Living with plants doesn’t come without its challenges. Lack of humidity can crisp up leaves around their edges; forgetting to water can make a plant droopy; and let’s not forget the dreaded spider mite infestation! Have any of us mere mortals ever won a battle with those pesky arthropods?
But before we get to the pleasures and pitfalls of living with plants, we have to first remember that they’re in our home—and therefore our care. After all, if we were more present to their being with us, then humidity woes, wilty leaves, and nasty bugs may all be non-issues in the first place.
It’s surprisingly easy to neglect our houseplants. We get busy; we travel; we forget. And plants don’t meow, bark, or cry their way to gain our attention. Instead, they sit quietly in the corner we put them in, waiting...patiently waiting. But there are many tactics that have helped me thrive alongside the over 600 houseplants in my apartment (yep, I said 600). I'm planning to share a whole host of them in my upcoming masterclass, but here are six of my absolute favorites. Mind you: Some are unconventional, but that’s part of what makes living with plants so fun!
1. Put your plants in fun, cheeky planters.
There are plenty of planters on the market now that aren’t your run-of-the-mill plastic or terra-cotta numbers. I have planters with boobs and butts, chicken planters, pots in the shape of giraffes and hedgehogs, and a number of other planters with faces. Strategically placing the perfect plant in the perfect planter may very well be a way to keep perfectly on top of caretaking!
2. Give them space.
Sometimes when we buy a plant, it’s to hide a certain area of our house that’s an eyesore (thank you, Sansevieria for blocking the pipes under my sink!). However, sometimes that means that the plant is out of the way of our everyday gaze. Instead, give your greenery its own space—perhaps elevated on a platform—near a bright, sunny spot or even in a central location that you pass by often. When plants are more in the line of our sight, we're more likely to pay attention to them.
3. Name your plants.
OK, OK. I know naming plants is not for everyone. And quite frankly, I have WAY too many plants to individually name, but if you haven’t been bitten by the plant hoarder bug quite yet and still have a modest collection, then I would suggest anthropomorphizing them a little. "Fred the fig, Sammy the Snake Plant, Paula the Peperomia." Get creative. Check out the coolest baby names. Steal your favorite celebrity’s name: Nicholas Sage, anyone? Keanu Leaves? Oh man, we could be here all day! But you get the point: No one goes to bed at night forgetting to water your plant when you’re thinking of Nick Sage.
4. Create "living art."
When my roommate left the apartment we shared, she took a lot of our art with her, which left me with barren walls. Something was needed to warm up the space, so my dad and I got to work. The first thing we built was a Mason jar garden, which is a central decoration for my dining area. Instead of a painting or a photo, I chose to go with living art: something that grows, changes, and eventually needs to be repotted and replanted over time. When you make something a central component of your living space—elevating it to art status—then you have a tendency to pay more attention to its needs. Plus it just looks super cool!
5. Get a plant with a story.
Let’s talk about the begonia that was owned by Einstein or the plectranthus cutting that was in Obama’s Oval Office that I got at the Plant Swap. Or how about my mother’s schefflera that’s over 40 years old? Many of our plants carry a special story, and with that comes what feels like greater responsibility to keep that plant happy. I’ve found that plants with a real story behind them become a bit more doted on because there is a history that you know, share, and pass on.
6. Put your plants on your schedule.
I just spent the other night with my girlfriends talking about life and business, and one thing that kept coming up for many of us was time management! I don’t know how life got so busy, but the reality is, much of it can be resolved with better time management. Some of the group shared their personal techniques—everything from clever apps to blocking out social media. The point of this is to say: Make time for your plants. Seriously. Put them on your calendar. Carve out a portion of the day just for them. I take care of my plants for 30 minutes as soon as I wake up. And Sunday is a day totally devoted to plant care. If you put it on your schedule consistently, then you’ll get into a routine, and that will help you become a better plant parent.