In Honor of Earth Day: The Perks of Being a Plant-Lover
Updated: Apr 22, 2020
Gardening sprouted in my life like a seed, developing slowly, and then growing in a rush. I had caught the Millennial plant bug and before I knew it the naked windowsills and empty corners of my apartment were adorned with plants of all shapes, sizes, and textures. Even the ceiling offered itself up as a canvas for my budding beauties, a perch from which I suspended rattan planters of cascading green philodendron. I bought plants first and made space for them after, discovering obscure nooks and crannies to stick terra-cotta pots. Once the house was full, I let them spill out into the yard, which soon overflowed with greenery as well.
Gardening has evolved into a trendy hobby with wide appeal. A new generation of plant-lovers has facilitated a rise in plant sales in nurseries and online. Millennials accounted for 25 percent of total lawn and gardening spending in the U.S. in 2018; I am certainly one of them. Aside from providing premium Instagram fodder (“plantfluencer” accounts like urbanjungleblog, with 970,000 followers, and houseplantclub, with 750,000 followers, have attracted a massive fanbase) and elevating the aesthetic of virtually any room, plants also feed the soul. Tilling damp soil with your fingertips or replanting the roots of a flourishing monstera can be therapeutic, an opportunity for healthy introspection, and a closer bond with the earth. They are zen companions that can help reduce anxiety and stress and increase our self-esteem and mood, as research indicates.
Over the last two years, I’ve amassed a healthy flora family, and foster a unique connection with each member. Like siblings, they all have their own occasionally fickle personalities, but are patient and forgiving, for the most part.
In the beginning, I was drawn to low-risk plant species. Hardy varieties like succulents are undemanding, capable of withstanding drought and strong sun. I found that plunking down a small ceramic pot with a mini-sansevieria on my desk increased creativity, enhanced productivity, and added a pop of color to my view. For the more ambitious horticulturist, the enigmatic fiddle-leaf fig, also known as a Ficus Lyrata, can be a wonderful accent, if you can keep it happy. The fiddle-leaf is finicky about over- and under-watering, too much shade or too much sun, dryness and drafts. But once you find its sweet spot, you’ll have yourself a lush new favorite.
For savvy plant owners who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, propagating existing plants is a challenge well worth the reward. Propagation requires an intimate understanding of a plant’s habitat, which must be simulated if it has any chance at germinating and thriving. But successful propagation will allow you to cultivate a diverse collection on a low budget.
Whether you like puttering in your outdoor oasis or prefer to festoon your corners and ledges with little green trophies, gardening and plant collecting can have real mental and physical benefits. With a bit of love and care, your plants will always love you back.