After committing to live on my own in Los Angeles, it was clear it was time for me to set up the soul sista lounge. I’m the homiest traveler you’ll probably ever know, and that’s exactly why within a month of living in my studio, I had the space decked out with a palm tree, three pothos, an orchid, a few succulents, and a mini windowsill garden where I started growing plants and herbs – Chipotle’s cilantro ain’t got nothin’ on me.
In the process of growing and living with plants, I’ve observed them enough to pick up a few life lessons. I didn’t realize how disconnected I was from nature, until I started having to water baby plants every day with a mister, and carefully pluck brown leaves to make room for vibrant green ones to grow – #wisdomgains.
Here are some life lessons growing plants has taught me.
Seedlings need more water
It’s one thing to go to the store, buy some full grown plants, and enjoy their beauty; throwin’ shade at you Damon. It’s a whole other thing to buy the packet of seeds, and watch the process of potting your own little baby plant pets that can either grow, or wither depending on how you care for them. Plants are no easy subject, much like interacting with humans, every plant is different and requires varying levels of attention. While watering my little baby plant pets, and feeling like I was completely failing since days had passed and there were no signs of life, I decided to change my approach. Instead of watering them like the rest of my full grown plants, I started misting them carefully, and frequently; think the plant version of giving a baby a bottle. Within weeks, I started seeing tiny little sprouting plants; so much joy to think that I just might have a green thumb. As I started getting the science down, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity of new plants and new relationships. The younger the relationship, the more care is required. You have to build trust, develop history, and eventually, the relationship thrives, just like my little pet plants.
Bigger and more mature plants usually don’t need as much care
While not all older plants are the same, most people at nurseries will tell you the same thing for a medium to large sized plant – it needs moderate sun and water once a week. We have this idea that we need to soak plants with water on a daily basis, but surprisingly enough, the older ones are pretty self sufficient. After leaving my apartment for a month and leaving my grown pothos and palm tree alone with only a water globe, they not only survived, but thrived. This immediately reminded me of those friendships that you don’t need to nurture often, but will be there thriving regardless. Appreciate those “low level care” people in your life.
Windowsill plants need to be rotated
You can’t expect anything in your life to work out if there isn’t an even balance of attention. We tend to focus on one side of our lives, whether that’s social or work, but just as plants do, if we don’t address all sides of ourselves, our pieces start to crumble. The withering brown leaves on one side of my windowsill plants said it all – rotate those babies and give everything even attention.
Music helps them thrive
If I could have a device in my brain that played music 24/7 I would. It’s gotten me through some of the toughest parts of my life. And as a linguist, I have to say music is the only language I really can’t live without.
This is the exact reason why my plants have the joys of listening to anything from Jimi Hendrix, to jazz from the minute I walk into the apartment to the minute I leave the door. One of these times that I was home eating my cereal and sipping my coffee, I stared, noticing that the plants had grown significantly after a full night of me playing my favorite tunes (as opposed to their slow growth when I just watered them). I myself firmly believe music is a treasure, with the ability to transform moods and grow positive things. By the looks of it, my plants agree.
A spray is sometimes all they need
Just as successfully going through life, taking care of plants can seem overwhelming. For some reason, we’re programmed to believe that the more time spent working means more money, that more gifts and social outings means more friends. More water means bigger plants. The truth is, you only need to spray plants sometimes, and it leads me to believe that more is not better in all cases. In fact, too much water leads to rotting roots and drowning plants.
Everything has the ability to grow again, it just takes patience
The exact opposite of drowning plants are dry ones. I came back from a weekend trip mortified that the baby plants I had been growing the previous month were completely shriveled up. Despite thinking it was the bitter end, I realized that I had nothing to lose by treating them as I was before; hanging out with them during my morning coffee, spraying them a few times a day just because.
Within two days, the plants that looked like they were on their death beds started springing up. It was then that I realized the time and effort we put into living things always returns in some sort of way. Give something care and attention, it revives. Neglect it, it withers.
Every now and then, you need to flip the Soil
When you buy plants, or grow your own, you’ll realize sooner than later that re-potting them is probably a great idea. Giving your new pet plant fresh soil will help it grow to its full potential. But plants aren’t the only things that need soil flipping every now and then, we too need to refresh some things to fully thrive.
Recently I was talking to my friend about his failed romantic adventures. It’s not just him, it’s a common thing for us to find ourselves in circles of toxicity because of the people we have in our lives. I’m a firm believer that we have limited energy to spend on people and in return can either receive good things from that energy investment, or get screwed so we should cut our losses and move on.
Every so often I start noticing it’s time to flip my soil to plant new seeds. Maybe that means a change of location, a change in diet and exercise, a new class, a new language, but something’s gotta change to allow a trickle effect of other new things into your life.
Update your list of friends, go out with an open mind and put your willingness to invest energy in good people and things out there and it will come. Hell, try growing your own plants to see how your perspective changes.
It’s amazing how nature has all the answers, if we look closely, we might just start figuring it out.