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Looking Back on my First Year with Houseplants

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I cautiously clicked “checkout” on my first house plant purchase. From five small plants carefully shipped to my door, an entirely fulfilling hobby has blossomed. To be honest, it hasn’t been without it’s trials and tribulations--and mortalities--but overall this newfound passion of mine has brought me a great deal of joy. And while I’m not one to make New Year's resolutions (one too many failed attempts), I am definitely in the mood to reflect on how grateful I am, how much I’ve learned, and what I hope is next in my plant journey.


Grateful for the Greenery


First of all, we can all agree that this has been a tough couple of years. Whether you’re on the frontlines (thank-you!!) or isolated at home, nobody signed up for the stress and the uncertainty that has been thrust upon us by the pandemic. Living as I do in Canada, the winters have seemed colder and longer than normal these past two years, given that we can’t pass the time with friends or celebrate milestones with a night on the town.


Bringing a bit of the outdoors inside has saved a bit of my soul. The pandemic has been a lonely time for so many people. Surrounding myself with living things has given me something to nurture and something to learn from. Not only is my home cozier and greener--it has literally boosted my mood to have plants around. I know it has been mentioned on the blog before, but it’s worth repeating: studies have shown that plants can help you stay positive. And though I’ve had some bumps (and gnats) along the way, the amount that I’ve learned and the ways in which I’ve begun to trust my intuition are truly something to be thankful for. 


Something New


Learning something new isn’t always easy, especially when you’re a fully formed adult. Case in point: a few years back, I enrolled in a Spanish class at a local university. I spent every Wednesday night for an entire semester conjugating verbs and stumbling through awkward small talk in Spanish with my classmates. And can you guess how much Spanish I can speak? Zilch. Other than a sentence or two that I memorized, I have retained nothing. To be honest, it was humbling. I learned that it is much harder than I thought to acquire a new skill as an adult than it was when we were kids. 


Taking on something entirely new, like a collection of houseplants, had me doubting myself. But here is what I’ve learned this year: small setbacks do not equal failure. In the grand scheme of things, a yellow leaf or an infestation of gnats or--yes--a dead plant does not have to translate to you throwing your hands up in despair. My shortcomings as a plant parent didn’t mean that I wasn’t worthy of owning plants; it just meant there was more to learn. Each time I’ve had a stumble, I’ve gained some knowledge and moved on. Even when I’ve had to rid myself of some struggling plants, I’ve learned from it.


Making adjustments and saying goodbye


Yes, I’ve killed some plants this year. A polka dot plant and a jade plant. And possibly a pothos…the verdict is still out if he’ll make it. When a plant is really struggling and I’ve done all I can (and it’s no longer bringing me joy), I’ve learned to let go. In the process, I’ve actually really come to love the trials and tribulations of helping my plants; of figuring out why a plant is struggling, and making adjustments to heal it. Sometimes I make really stupid mistakes--it turns out I shouldn’t have poured bleach on the pothos when it was covered in fungus gnats. But other times (and this is the really rewarding part) my intuition is bang on. My adansonii does need more light. My cat palm really is that thirsty. My orchids really do hate being near the heating vent. 


I have turned to the internet so many times to try to find the answers to my houseplant struggles, but nothing has helped as much as guesswork, trial and error, and a little bit of luck. Such is life: we really can’t just ask someone (or the internet) for all the answers. We really do have to just try our best…over and over again. Or, as my favourite analogy goes: we have to throw all of the spaghetti at the wall and hope that something sticks. 


All in all, it’s been a wildly successful new hobby, and a truly fulfilling year with my plants. I’ve gained so much from these little living things. So while I definitely miss my friends and long for the days I can see my family on a whim, I’m lucky and I’m grateful that in the meantime, I’ve learned to keep some plants alive. Because while I give them time and fertilizer and stylish pots, they give me so much more in return.