How Becoming a Plant Parent Taught Me Humility
What doesn’t kill your garden makes you stronger
My little brother moved out of my one-bedroom New York City apartment during the summer of 2020. Though it was rough when he first moved in, I grew accustomed to having him around for those four months. I worked a lot, so he did most of the grocery shopping. He always enjoyed making his special baked chicken dipped in a barbecue/habanero pepper flake sauce with sweet plantains.
When he left, the rooms felt empty. The air felt light. I found myself understanding the meaning of “empty nest syndrome.” To combat the loneliness, I picked up a hobby I found trending on social media: I became a plant parent.
I didn’t research plant care or what I needed to consider, given my living space—I just jumped into the life of a plant dad. And in the most Churchill style, instead of starting small, I purchased six plants: a monstera, two birds of paradise, a fittonia, a frost peperomia, and an American rubber plant.
I was excited about unboxing them and the green beauty they’d add to my space — as well as the Instagram flexin’ I had already envisioned, illuminated by my sunlit south-facing windows. In my naivete, I thought all I had to do was water the plants daily to keep them looking fresh.
Boy, was I wrong.
Two weeks after literally showering my houseplants with love every day, the shoots of my monstera began to fall off. At first, I thought the online plant shop had sold me diseased greenery. But I came to learn that overwatering is the number one killer of plants among beginners. It caused my monstera to suffer from terrible root rot. I lost half of the plant; its remains looked ready for a plant cruelty commercial starring Sarah McLachlan.
But I didn’t give up on my foray into horticulture; it was only reasonable that I got more plants. I added six more to my collection: a peperomia “Ginny,” a heart leaf philodendron, a red prayer plant, an elephant’s foot, a bird’s nest snake plant, and a samurai dwarf.
Whenever I interact with my plants for watering or misting, I don’t perform those activities mindlessly…I’ve come to learn…