Grow Your Own!
In the movie 28 Days, Gerhardt (played by Alan Tudyk) asks when he is allowed to have a (ahem) adult relationship again. His counselor informs him that if he can keep a house plant a live for a year then he can upgrade to a pet. If he can keep the pet alive for a year, he can start dating. Needless to say the last scene of the movie is (SPOILER) Gerhardt, with a bulldog, in a nursery, and a dead plant.
If you feel like your fingers are as green as Gerhardt’s, and that an actual real-live garden would be at mortal risk if we let you out the house secateurs’ in hand, then we suggest a houseplant. Or even a planter box on the patio, you know something small!
So your first step is to start with something a little easy-going plant-wise. When you are looking for the perfect flora companion think about the space you have picked out for your new friend. How much light is there? Is it a well ventilated place? Does the area get a draft from the door?
Andrew Bicknell, author of ‘Dr Greenfingers Guide to Healthy Houseplants’ says “Skills in caring for plants increase with experience. When you buy your first houseplants you are paying not only for the plant, but for the apprenticeship as well”.
When you find yourself in the nursery looking for that ideal houseplant, don’t be tempted to get the plant that is smothered in flowers that are in full bloom. Just because it’s flowering now, doesn’t mean it will flower for you again, or that it’s the best plant for your home. Rather take your time, read up a little about each plant and see what will suit you in your space.
You need to look at the measurements of your potential new potted mates. Though in the nursery it may came in a handy Tupperware size, it could have the potential to take up the same amount of room (and need the same amount of water) as your friendly neighborhood elephant. As in houses, mates and jobs, potential is key here! Some of the plants will have this handy info on their label but if not grab a passing nursery lackey and pump them for information. Or… you know… Google is your friend!
Now that you have the perfect size plant, in the variety you love, you need to check that it’s not full of pests or has some other dreaded disease. It could be that your failure in the past had nothing to do with you. Some plants live a pampered life, seeing the world through rose tinted glasses in their sheltered greenhouse, and then die the second they are exposed to the real world. A little like a Kardashian. So though you can’t be 100% certain that your plant won’t be diseased, at least make sure you go to a reputable nursery who know their stuff and not just a supermarket or similar where plants are just a side-line.
There are some ferns, for example Maidenhair or Adiantum, which have leaves that dry up and die when you take them home. Don’t give up hope! This doesn’t mean your plant is dead. It will grow new leaves. This has to do with light exposure. In the nursery it was kept indoors in a low light sec-tion and in your house there might a lot more light, or visa-versa. The leaves would be large in a low-light area, to try and absorb as much light as possible. In an area that has a lot of light, the plant sheds its leaves and regrows small ones, perfect for its environment.
Our final suggestion is really to just let the plant live its life. You might feel like you have a new baby in the house that needs to be watered day in and day out, but the truth is getting a house plant is more like getting a teenager. It needs its independence and space to grow. You can water it a little once a week and maybe even take it outside when it is raining for a bath, or give it some plant food every odd month but there is no need to hover. It’s quite happy to just grow and provide you with greenery, in its meditational space on your bookshelf.