Why Now Is the Perfect Time to Adopt a Plant
Looking for a new hobby? Go green and try your luck at indoor or outdoor gardening. Experts agree that "plant babies" can be a positive, uplifting, and healthy addition to your life. Here, explore the surprising benefits of investing in your green thumb, some tips for success, and recommended products for beginners. Ready, set, plant—and grow!
How Gardening Can Help
Plants of various sizes, shapes, and shades do more than serve as a backdrop for your Instagram photos; they also provide mental and physical perks for their owners. As you nurture and nourish your herbs, veggies, and leafy greens, you may notice a multitude of benefits.
Your spirits will be lifted
Many people suffer from anxiety, and creating an outdoor garden can help transfer those nervous feelings into productive projects, thus renewing your spirit, says Blythe Yost, the co-founder and head designer for Tilly. "Symbolically, spring is something people look forward to," she continues. "This year the trees, shrubs, and flowers will still leaf out, bloom, and flourish. Being outdoors and building and caring for a garden is a great project that maybe you never had interest in, but now you do."
You will have something to nurture
When we're busy it can feel like we've lost a sense of purpose, says L.Be Sholar, the founder of Farm-Based Foodie. However, when we adopt plants—or become a "bio-parent" by planting seeds—we fill our time with meaning, since these buds need us. "They rely on us for the right growing conditions in order to survive," Sholar says. "Try to adopt plants and become a plant parent because you'll have the time to learn, experiment, and give them the care they deserve."
You'll feel more connected to nature
We aren't always able to get outdoors as much as we'd like to. However, soaking up vitamin D and breathing fresh air is still important, even if it doesn't look like how we want it to. Rather than feeling distant from nature, plants give us an excuse to head outside," says Abbye Churchill, author of the garden design book The Gardens of Eden. Or bring the outdoors in. "Planting in any form—from window sill planters, to countertop herbs, to an outdoor space of any size—can help us feel reconnected to nature which can be incredibly life affirming," she says.
You can feed yourself
If you're interested in planting foods you can eat, Churchill says now is the time to try your luck with veggies, fruits, and herbs. "Not only can the process of planting and growing be restorative, it can also reduce trips to the grocery store and create your own fresh food source," she says. "Plus, early spring is actually the ideal time to plant in many parts of the world as we move into warmer weather."
Tips for Success
Pull out that old dusty planter you've never used, order some soil, and you'll be well on your way to a garden oasis. Or at the very least, a thriving succulent you adore.
Find the right plant match
Much like dating, Churchill says not all plants are created for all people. Depending on your typical lifestyle, who you share your home with, and how much energy you're willing to put into plant care, some sprouts may work for you, while others will crash and burn. Before going on a digital shopping spree, she says to consider pets, light sources, and the overall goal of your garden. Do you want herbs you can eat? Do you want your children to help? Having this information on hand when you shop around will help narrow your choices.
Consider the space and stock you have
Take stock of your living spaces and look for areas where a green beauty makes sense. While Churchill says you don't need to have a ton of space to get started, having a roadmap will make setting up shop easier. "A window sill, a fire escape, a bookshelf, a few feet of earth—start small and work with what you have," she recommends. Though it might be difficult to get everything you need to start a garden, Churchill says there are some creative hacks to try that don't require much effort. For example, plastic bottles can be cut in half and used as temporary planters with a few holes poked in the bottom for drainage.
Be mindful of light
When you're ready to make your plant purchase, take a second look at the sunlight required for the species. Most will have shady, partial shade, full sun, medium sun, and so on. This indicates how direct or indirect the sun should be shining on your plant baby. "Check the specific needs of your plant to know the best location to put your new plant, whether indoors or outside," Churchill says. "If you're growing indoors, plants don't necessarily have to be right next to a window, but make sure they get enough sun exposure throughout the day to suit their specific needs."
Step away from the watering can
Plant coach and apartment farmer Nick Cutsumpas says one of the most common mistakes rookie plant parents make is giving their plants a little too much love. In fact, when in doubt, he says it's better to give your babies space rather than go overboard with water and fertilizer. "Being a helicopter plant parent can sometimes be worse than a neglectful one, and most plants prefer being a bit thirsty," he explains. How can you tell? He suggests sticking your finger 2 to 3 inches down to access the moisture. Most plants will have dry soil at the top but saturated soil underneath. Until all of the water is gone when you poke a finger through, do not add more. Most of the time, this is every 10 to 14 days.
Repeat after Sholar: Soil is not just dirt. It's a living, breathing, and active part of the growing process. That's why high-quality soil is absolutely essential for good results, since it features billions of microorganisms that benefit plant health. "Good soil is a balanced ecosystem that works in tandem with your plant's roots. Just like your gut health affects your body's health, soil health affects your plant's health," she notes.
Try These Plants
These plants and products are great for first-time plant parents—or for anyone who wants to expand their gardening skills. You can buy from online retailers like the ones below, or consider reaching out to a local nursery. From herbs and veggies to pretty flowers, here are a few options to help you get started.