Plant Therapy in the Pandemic
If you are struggling to find things to do in the pandemic, then maybe consider getting a leafy green friend for your home. After nurturing your plant and waiting for it to grow, there is nothing better than seeing a new leaf emerge on your houseplant and feeling like a proud plant parent. Watering, pruning and taking care of your plants is therapeutic and almost like meditation. Plants have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve your productivity, concentration and just generally make you happier. Plus, plants are great for indoor and outdoor decorating; they can really make a space come alive. I have always loved plants, but this year is when my plant family really started to grow (pun intended). I know that some people don’t get house plants because they think they are going to kill them and that they do not have a green thumb. Well, there is no such thing. Nobody gets their first house plant knowing every single thing about them and their care and you shouldn’t expect yourself to either. I have killed many plants, but that’s how you learn and it’s just part of the plant experience. Fortunately, there are some plants that are great for beginners and are very simple to care for:
The ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas Zamiifolia) is great for people who tend to neglect their plants or are very busy. This plant has very waxy leaves that can retain a lot of moisture, so you don’t need to water it very much and it can handle darker spaces. Succulents and cacti are also great because they don’t need a lot of water, but they will need more light so if you have very bright windows, they’re perfect. There are some very interesting and unique looking succulents and cacti out there with all sorts of amazing shapes and colors. They tend to be on the small side so that’s good for smaller spaces. Other easy to care for plants are: Snake plants (Dreacena Trifasciata), most types of pothos (Epipremnum Aureum), Chinese Evergreen (Agleonema), and a lot of others.
When you are plant shopping and you decide you want a plant, it can be hard to stop from buying it immediately. But first, you should see if the plant is healthy before you buy it and if it would work well with your space and your lifestyle. The best way to tell if the plant you want to buy is healthy or not is the leaves, because you can’t exactly look at a plant’s roots in a plant shop. If the leaves have holes or brown spots, then it might have pests; if the leaves are yellow, discolored, droopy or brown and crispy, then it is not healthy. Also make sure to ask the plant store staff about what type of care your plant needs. Ask about how much light and water the plant will need and anything else you might need to know. If you get home and still aren’t comfortable with taking care of the plant, then you can find everything you need on the internet. There are all sorts of articles, videos and, more relating to plant care. I recently started buying plants at the Garden Barn (2021 Bozeman’s Choice Business for Green Products/Services). They have many different rare species and cultivars to choose from. I talked to Allison, with the Garden Barn, and asked her a few questions.
Kat Forester: What is your advice for people getting started with plants?
Allison: Don’t rush it, start small and get a few easy-to-care-for plants at a time.
KF: How do you tell if a plant is right for your space/lifestyle?
Allison: Either do some research or ask someone at the store. They should be able to tell you if you have the right light in your house; that’s going to be the one big thing that you can’t change, but you can change your watering schedule.
KF: What are some of the benefits to having house plants in your home?
Allison: I think that the biggest benefits are towards your mental health because you have something to do and take care of. It doesn’t have to be a lot of plants but one that your nurturing is really good (especially in the pandemic).
KF: What are some of your personal favorite house plants?
Allison: I would say right now one of my favorite types of houseplants are hoyas. They’re super easy; they’re also really interesting and you can get lots of cool varieties. I also really like carnivorous plants; they’re very rewarding to grow.
KF: Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
Allison: I want people to know that they can always ask store employees and don’t expect yourself to know everything about plants when you’re just getting started. I’m always so happy to talk about plants. Or do research online and sometimes you just have to experiment with it.
If you can’t go to a plant nursery, you might have what you need for a leafy green friend right in your pantry. Recently, I got a bag of about twenty mix types of dried beans at the grocery store (any dried beans will work). I put a few in a wet paper towel to germinate and proceeded to test all sorts of variables on bean germination to see what worked the best. I tested with light, water, dirt etc… and I found that beans germinate the best with a little bit of water in a dark space. After that, I continued to test all sorts of other things. I now have a bean pod growing on one of my plants.
All these experiments are very easy to test and are really fun for kids and adults. You might even have dried beans in your house. I definitely recommend you try this. As you can see, plants are a really fun hobby and a great thing to do in the pandemic. When you start small, it is simple and very enjoyable.
All photos were taken at the Garden Barn.