I legit had zero skills in keeping a plant alive so maybe once a week, I look at the plants I have now and think, “daaang Katharine, look at you go with your plant abilities!” If you’re reading this, I imagine you might have also considered growing plants before but were either too scared or just never could keep a plant alive for longer than two weeks. Well, today could be the day you find a new reason to give it a try! Even though I never saw myself as a plant person, I literally got so lonely at home and wanted more friends that I thought, lemme get some plant-friends to take care of in the meantime until I make some new human-friends. I know, it sounds funny. It is funny! I was working from home and had just moved into a new part of town so there were a lot of changes and not a lot of socializing. Don’t judge me. ;)
“Daaang Katharine, look at you go with your plant abilities!”
I share this because you really never know what motivates you to try something new. Feeling lonely motivated me to let go of my giant ego and ask for help. Now, before I share with you some real advice, I’d like to highly recommend that you give all your plants celebrity or character names. It’s silly but makes being a plant-parent really fun. For example, I can say things like “C’mon Mark Ruffalo, why are you always thirsty?” I don’t have any feelings one way or another toward the real Mark Ruffalo, but my plant is a crispy wave fern which means the leaves looked like ruffles on a skirt, so hence...Ruff-alo. Or to my little cactus plant, “Hey Katniss Everdeen, you look like you’re getting too much sun.” Get it? If you slur the word “cactus”, you get “Katniss”.
Alright, alright. Here are some real tips. As a note, the mentioned resources or DC spots may or may not be accessible to you. However, I wanted to give some concrete resources so that it offers you a place to start.
Step 1 Research: Who knew there were so many YouTube videos about plant care-taking!? They’re pretty relaxing too. Check out this one to start. I was blown away with the idea of drenching the plant and letting all the water fall out before putting it in the pot. I’d never seen that before but that’s how I now water my plants. I give my plants a shower, basically, in the sink and then put them back. Don’t forget to look up blogs too! There are lots of great ones out there. In hindsight, here are a few general questions I think might be helpful to guide your research:
Which house plants do I need to water the most? The least?
Which house plants can survive with little sunlight? Which ones need a lot?
Succulents are pretty but how do you actually take care of them?
Step 2 Field Trip: Go explore! I walked to the Logan Hardware store on 14th Street and found this kind man, who I can’t remember his name right now, to answer all 50 questions of mine. I asked which plant I should get as my first “plant baby” and he responded by asking me questions about my personality. He helped me realize that since plants are living things, plants have a personality too so it’s all about finding the right match. My first plant baby would be determined based on what my home and my lifestlye can give to my plant. He showed me which ones could survive with indirect sunlight, which ones were resilient, and what soil or fertilizer to get. It was a TON of fun because while everything he was telling me was new, it wasn’t so challenging that I felt like I needed to go home to process and come back later.
Step 3 Welcome Home: Give your plant a name, find it a spot, and take a picture! Isn’t that what we do with our dogs and cats? It’s a special moment. Take a moment to give yourself a moment to be proud of yourself. Now if you’re like me and you suddenly get a flash of fear that you will forget to water it, set a reminder every 2 weeks on your calendar to “check on Katniss Everdeen”. It took away any anxiety knowing my calendar would remember for me and remind me even if work or life got busy.
Side Note: If your plant does die or you have to get rid of it, give yourself a little bit of grace. Ice skaters always fall the first time they learn to skate, so if your plant dies, go do another field trip and ask for help. Or, if you feel like this isn’t for you, at least you gave it a shot. Not everyone can say, “hey, lemme try that!”
Last Side Note: There are a lot of cute plant shops in DC, but I have found that for a beginner or for someone like me who needs to be cost efficient, the Logan Hardware stores are by far the most affordable place to purchase plants. Especially if there’s a chance they may die, don’t spend it on a $30 plant just because the store looks cute. #InLoganWeTrust