A Beginner's Guide to Houseplants

Photographs by  KET Photography

Photographs by KET Photography

Special thanks to Ashley Daly and Ashley Palmer of Retro Den Tulsa.

I’m at a place in my life where I crave calm and beauty. I’m a mom and a business owner, and all boosts are welcome in my life. Since crazy amounts of caffeine make me anxious, I turn to house plants. An energizing home gives me the leg up in life that I need. It can sound trite to say that having a lovely home and having plants is important, but even scientific studies support that environment plays a large role in how people face their days.

Nature can lower heart rates and anxiety levels, as well as, interesting fact, boost your memory. I make a lot of decisions and interact with a lot of people, not to mention, as a parent, I basically rule over my sweet child’s life, so it’d be in everyone’s best interest if the scene is set for me to be calm, cool, and collected. And gosh, if I can have a better memory, that’d be nice too. Maybe stop losing my keys? I’m willing to test how far the power of indoor plants can go.

From a design perspective, house plants are an opportunity to add warmth and energy. Home design is often about balance. When you have so many inanimate things, i.e. sofas, books, etc., adding literal life to a space ups the sense of harmony and completeness.

However, here is the best reason for having house plants. Life can feel so fast that caring for my plants is a forced opportunity to slow down. It’s a ritual, a momentary indulgence, a chance to give my time and heart over to beauty and life. Nurturing for the sake of nurturing. Like having a pet or a child, but you don’t get sent to jail if you neglect them. Perhaps this purity of intention and ritual is at the root of all the scientific goodness of plants.

In hopes that you’ll explore the wonderful benefits of having plant roommates, below are a few guidelines for achieving a green thumb.

Graphic by  Laurel and Marie

Graphic by Laurel and Marie

Hardy plants.

You want plants that aren’t finicky. Plants you can make mistakes with, but they’ll offer you forgiveness, rather than up and die the first time you overwater them.

Plants with only a few main rules.

If giving a plant sun, watering weekly, and singing it a song once a day are the three basic care guidelines, then that’s way less to remember and be accountable for than ten rules. Right? Start simple.

When you go to the nursery.

Take these top two rules and go find the most dirt-under-their-nails, sun-kissed hippy you can find at the local nursery and ask for their help identifying a good option for you. Some of my suggestions? Philodendron, Snake Plant, and Peace Lily.

One plant at a time.

I’ve found you can slowly get in tune with plants as you spend time with them. They may not have voices, but they do communicate with you. Wilting often means needing water. Yellowing typically means overwatering. If you take the time to learn one plant really well, caring for it will become a habit. You’ll glance at your peace lily and just know what its needs are. What a glorious day that will be for you both.

Educate yourself.

Y’all, the internet is your friend. A little light googling yields a wealth of tips, things to watch for, and basic care guidelines from experts around the world. It takes five minutes to read about your new plant. All plants need care, and you’d be surprise how successful you can be if you take a moment to learn. It’s also super helpful if you have any follow up questions. Just this week I have looked up “brown tips on snake plants,” “how to water a staghorn fern,” and “propagating spider plant.” With the internet by my side, I am feeling pretty sassy about my plant knowledge.

When all else fails, philodendron clippings rooted in water. These are viney, leafy plants that most everyone’s grandma has owned at some point, and keeping them in a jar of water is the absolute easiest plant you could possibly own. Just stay ahead of evaporation and keep the water levels above the roots.