I’m a Brand-New Plant Parent — Here Are 7 Simple Lessons That Instantly Helped Me
Plants are a great way to liven up your house and they are also extremely beneficial for your mental health. According to Psychology Today, they may help reduce stress, decrease PTSD symptoms and increase productivity and creativity. So in a way it’s a symbiotic relationship — you and your plant can both take care of each other.
I grew up in a nature-loving household. When I was born, people sent so many flowers and plants that our living room was totally covered. But the first plant I ever owned by myself was a succulent that I put on my desk in my dorm. As a college student, I never really purchased a “big girl plant” that would require more than occasional watering. However, while I was walking around Chinatown during my senior year, I saw a gorgeous Pothos plant nestled in a smooth, ceramic pot that I just had to make mine.
Pothos plants are considered to be a great beginner house plant because they can thrive in a variety of different environments — bright indirect light to low light, nutrient-poor to rich soil. After learning about their easy-going nature, I was completely sold and carried my lovely Pothos, which I named Patrick, home. I proudly put him near a window and wrote his name on a post-it.
Here are seven things I learned along the way as a brand-new plant parent:
Talk to your plants and show them love.
This is a sentiment that my parents instilled in me at a young age. Plants are living, breathing creatures that deserve our respect and love. “I like to think plants have feelings!” Donna Letier, the CEO and co-founder of Gardenuity, previously told Apartment Therapy. We do have proof they respond to sound.”
According to a small 2009 study by the Royal Horticultural Society, talking to plants may help them grow at a faster rate. I started talking to my plants with an easy morning check-in of sorts: By telling them what my day is supposed to look like or what I am planning on making for breakfast, I eased into the ritual in a low-stakes manner that didn’t feel silly at all.
Know your limits and abilities.
This is something to practice beyond the plant-care world, but you should be aware of what you can provide for your plant. If you travel a lot, live in a very gloomy city, or have a very low-light apartment, you should account for these when you are picking the plant for your space.
If you are a beginner, start with a plant that is more forgiving and easier to take care of. (Apartment Therapy has a list of plants for beginners and also a whole plant encyclopedia that you can check out.) Now that I know how to take care of a pothos, I have my eye on a monstera deliciosa and want to work my way up to an olive tree.
Caring for your plants is a learning process.
Just like everything in life, you grow and learn from your experiences — and I learned that if I want to level up, I need to put in the work and actually learn how to take care of different plants. Right now, my plan is to successfully take care of a plant for a few months. If my pothos is still alive after three months, I have a greenlight to research information about another plant I am interested in.
As for where I’m gathering my information, that part’s simple. There are tons of resources online — including Apartment Therapy’s very own comprehensive guide — to help even a novice plant parent like me. What’s more, I’ve told myself that every yellowing leaf or withered vine is an opportunity to understand what went wrong and listen to what my plants need.
Save time and set reminders to check on your plants, especially in the beginning.
Whether that is adding a reminder on your phone or downloading an app, make sure you save time to interact with your plants. This will also work as a reminder for you to slow down, appreciate nature and ground yourself. Usually, the first thing I do after waking up is to pet my plant. I will look at its leaves, touch the soil to see if it’s extremely dry, and talk to it about my breakfast or plants. This morning ritual really grounds me and makes me feel ready for the day.
Don’t be afraid to feel the soil.
Speaking of grounding yourself, touching soil can act as a reminder to think happy thoughts and focus on your wellbeing. Whenever I touch the soil, I really feel energized — and honestly, if that ritual can make me feel this good, I will not question it.
Socialize with the plant community.
There is a huge group of plant owners around the world, and you can use your newfound love for plants and interest in developing your knowledge by joining online communities, using platforms like MeetUp to join activities about these topics, or simply talking to your green-thumb friends! An added bonus is that plants can be a great conversation starter for dates: Tinder data suggests that the top two things people want to talk about on dating apps are plants and pets.
Know when — and how — to say goodbye.
If you are like me, you get very attached to your plant and don’t want to cut off any leaves. However, it is actually very important to prune and shape your plants because it keeps away pests from settling onto them. Similarly, if your plant is dead — which is alright, and happens to the best of us — make sure you bid adieu properly. You can dispose of dead plants into a compost bin or leave them in a garden area to decompose so they can contribute to healthy soil.