The year of plants: how I finally managed to keep them alive

A Bright Christmas #2.

Before you get too excited, this is not going to be a detailed care guide of all kinds of houseplants. Instead I thought I’d share a pretty simple insight on how 2020 became the year in which our tiny apartment went from 0 plants, to about 15 at the moment.

So, we actually did have a plant at the beginning of the year: a bottle with moss and a couple of seedlings in a totally closed ecosystem. Maintenance: 0! (I can recommend, even if just for the fascination that it is possible to keep itself alive for years…). Oh, and come to think of it, we also had a basically dead orchid (we hadn’t watered it for >1y, and it was already almost dead when we inherited it before that). So yeah, nothing that really counts as taking care of plants.

But then, almost overnight, the decision was made to work from home, for, well, forever it seems like, and I got a crazy urge to start taking care of plants. It feels a bit embarrassing, but part of it was growing food from scraps, so I could skip going to the store, and had a feeling of control and survival. And the interesting things is, it worked! Instead of always managing to kill (all?) the plants (even the ones friends asked to water while they were on holiday in previous years) I now managed not only to keep them alive, but even to grow a bunch of things from kitchen scraps, like a freaking ginger plant. Result: “Nice bamboo you got there Ayla!” – “Bamboo? Ah, the ginger! Thank you :)”, was not uncommon during video meetings. Yes, you called it, the picture on top of this blog IS ginger!

Did you know there is even research on the positive effects of plants in your working environment? I mean, I know you could guess, I would be shocked if there wasn’t actually, but I never bothered to check. Well, a 2014 study from the Netherlands and the U.K., for example, found that “enhanced outcomes were observed when offices were enriched by plants”, and notes “the value of introducing plants into a workspace for the benefit of employees as well as for the financial health of the organization.” (and that is the original stress there on the “as well”). You can read the full article here, I’m afraid to say I didn’t do so, and was satisfied with just this bit of superficial info and being able to tell myself “It’s not just me, it’s a thing, I’m allowed to feel good about this!”

So… it turns out the secret to my newfound success with plants was just… Love and attention! Not because they got magical vibes, but because I actually spent time around them, and as a result I cared enough to notice when they needed something before it was too late, and to get to know their individual needs. To be honest: I still only try “easy care” plants, but we have for example invested in decent lights for them now in these winter times, and they are very happy with that.

As the cherry on top, and thanks to my husband’s particular care, the orchid that was staring death in the face at the beginning of the year is now, for the first time in the 2y that we have owned her, about to flower!


Picture: Wikipedia creative commons picture of ginger plants

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