Living with plants: the ups and downs | Blogh

Living with plants: the ups and downs

click to enlarge Jordan Snowden and her plants - MICHAEL TUITE
Michael Tuite
Jordan Snowden and her plants

Crazy plant people are the new crazy cat lovers. There is an entire community on Instagram dedicated to showing off houseplants and swapping care tips and tricks. Earlier this year, Amazon rebranded and reorganized its Patio, Lawn & Garden section, which is now called Amazon Plant Store. Forget Paint Nite — Plant Nites, during which attendees make terrariums or gardens in a bar, are popping up all over. The plant industry is in full bloom. 

Plants make spaces look fuller and more alive. Owning houseplants, or just being around plants, is said to be good for a person’s overall mindfulness, health, and productivity. There are numerous reports on the multiple benefits of being a plant owner, many equating owning a leafy friend to pet ownership. Millennials are waiting longer to have kids, and don’t want the responsibility of a pet, so plants are being used to fulfill the need to nurture.  

While I’m not denying the positive benefits of having a houseplant (natural humidifiers, improve air quality and make a room look pretty), owning a plant is, in the most basic sense, like being a parent. And the constant-care requirement is accompanied by other worries, leaving me in a perpetual state of anxiety.

Worry No. 1: Am I killing these plants?

In less than a month, I accumulated five house plants, a windowsill herb garden, three pepper plants, two tomato plants, four succulents, lavender, sunflowers, and a cactus. Despite my lack of experience and a greenthumb, I went from no plants to having an extended plant family. 

My problem was all the plants requiring a different watering schedule, which I couldn't remember. Did I water the pepper plant yesterday or two days ago? And some, like the succulents and cactus, are finicky when it comes to the right amount of water. Too much or too little, and they die. Whether I was killing them was not immediately apparent. Plants are a slow burn type of creature, leaving me to wonder daily whether mine are thriving or dying?

Worry No. 2: Why are the leaves turning brown?

This is an extension of Worry No. 1. Parts of plants turn brown, dry up, and look ugly unless properly maintained. But how much brown is too much? Where’s the line between life and death? How often do I prune, and if I don’t prune fast enough, will the brown leaves contaminate the rest?

Worry No. 3: Bugs

Warm, wet soil is an insect’s nirvana. By bringing these plants into my house, was I creating an open invitation for bugs to come in and make a home? Yes.

Worry No. 4: The Big Picture

My indoor garden increased my anxiety. It also has me questioning what type of parent I’ll be someday.

Caring for plants is nothing compared to owning a pet or raising a child. If and when I have kids, I hope to be over this fear of not knowing what is totally right. (Though, no first-time parents entirely know what they are doing.) Maybe I’m working through a process by bringing these plants into my life. Or maybe I will always be anxious about bringing any living thing into my life. Only time will tell. 

Until then, I’ll continue fussing over my leafy green babies.

Follow staff writer Jordan Snowden on Twitter @snowden_jordan.

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