A beginner’s guide to owning plants

So. It’s finally gotten to you. The overwhelming and crushing monotony of quarantine, and to try to free yourself from the stranglehold of this kraken of absolute boredom, you’ve decided to pick up a new hobby. Understandable, really, and it just so happens that some minor gardening could be just what you’re looking for!

Plants bring back some vibrancy and freshness to the constant state of lockdown we’re in right now, a sort of symbol that life will grow anywhere even in the darkest of times. Plus having something to care for and nurture brings back some of that sweet, sweet serotonin we’re all in desperate need of right now. But rarely is picking up a new hobby or skill so simple as “just do the thing,” so in order to try and ease your way into the green life and make your foray into the world of plant care easy to navigate, here’s a guide tailored just for beginners!

Step 1: Find a Good Resource

Before you head over to your local Walmart or Home Depot to buy some of those pretty gardenias your mom always liked, first find out what you should be thinking about when choosing a plant. Plants might be stationary and not really talk all that much, but they’re still a living thing. They still need love and attention to truly grow. According to Mike Quinn from the Gardener’s Path in his article Growing Plants 101: The Complete Guide to Getting Started: “Just like people and animals and bugs, they start out as babies and grow into adults. They reproduce. They can get diseases. They grow old and die.” 

This is all to say that if you don’t think about your new flora buddy as another living creature, then your chances of keeping it alive aren’t going to look too good. 

Like people, plants come in vast variety, and each one has its own unique set of needs. 

“Think about the people you know,” Quinn said. “Some prefer a cool walk in the woods, others love going to a hot beach. Plants have their preferences too, and it is up to you to find out about your new friend and make things right.” 

It’s all about having the proper mindset towards your green leafy friend, being able to put yourself in their roots and seeing what you would need in their stead in order to truly bloom. 

Quinn’s guide also covers the basic topics of watering, lighting, properly planting your chosen greeny beanie pal and recognizing issues such as disease or harmful bugs. However, the most important takeaway from the guide is how to think like a plant and view it as another living being rather than simply an accent for your sunroom.

Step 2: Choose Your Leafy Pal

Now that you have the proper frame of mind and are ready to be attentive to your plant’s needs, it’s time to choose one that suits your style. There’s a whole host of plants and flowers out there that look absolutely striking and beautiful, but it’s generally a good idea to keep in mind that the prettier the flower, the more attention it’s going to need. It’s better to start simple and work your way up once you get the hang of things, but simple doesn’t mean plain. There are loads of plants out there that are both easy to take care of and easy on the eyes. 

Andrew Courtney, creator of the gardening website Smart Garden Guide, offered a variety of options for good beginner plants.

“Low-maintenance houseplants that are easy to grow and require minimal care are good choices for beginners,” he stated. “The best houseplants for beginners include Peperomia, Spider Plant, ZZ plant, and Phalaenopsis Orchids.” 

Low-maintenance plants are a solid choice for those just starting out. It can be tricky trying to integrate an entirely new schedule for your plants into your daily routine, but hardy plants that can handle a mistake or two keep a missed watering from being disastrous. Besides, one of Courtney’s recommended plants is succulents, and look how cute they are! 

Some happy succulents in cute little pots. (StyleCaster)

Step 3: Commitment

Now that you have your verdant friend picked out and have all the things they’re going to need, all that’s left to do is make a schedule and stick to it! Be attentive to your budding buddy and keep their needs in mind. They might not be as demanding as a pet, but they still need some love and attention. Besides, your buddy is going to be helping you out too! Quarantine has everyone lacking in the motivation department, but having something as small as getting up to go water your plants can help to give you a small boost, a little bit of encouragement to get your productivity back in gear.  

Other than that, all that’s left is to enjoy yourself, relax and welcome your plant pal home!