audrey ii in the original poster for little shop of horrors

Your Best Friends Are Plants Now, and Health Experts Say That’s a Good Thing

Having a pandemic house plant is good for you!
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It’s been a year since I’ve visited a friend for coffee, or headed out to brunch, or hosted a party. You’d think I’d be lonely, but I’m making new friends all the time! There’s Francis, who I met at the grocery store last November, and Lauren who came to stay in January. Audrey came into my life thanks to a trip to Home Depot, and I expect another companion as part of a monthly subscription within the next week. And then of course, there’s Phil, who loves the sun on my desk. Sorry, his full name is Phil O’Denrdon. Because all my friends are house plants.

House plants have seen an explosion in popularity in recent years that was only accelerated by the pandemic and people being able to do literally nothing else for months but watch their little green babies grow and thrive. Apps and plant influencers abound, and it’s a plus for a potential partner if they’re a plant parent: shows they’re nurturing! And experts say that having a plant is good for you in many ways!

“It fends off loneliness because you’re interacting with something that changes,” said Gwenn Fried, manager of horticultural therapy services at RUSK Rehabilitation at NYU Langone Health, told Insider. Interacting with plants also reduces stress according to some studies. Just the routine of watering a plant, caring for it, and watching it grow is soothing and fulfilling. Just having plants around can boost your mood, and they make your home more welcoming and beautiful.

There are other health benefits to having plants in your homes, as well. For one—and this is big when you’re cooped up—they clean up the air, keep rooms fresh, and reduce mold and other toxins. Plants can even increase your concentration, according to some studies. Plants are amazing, which is why I keep buying more.

I know that plant parenthood can be daunting, and so I’m here to tell you you can do this and give you some tips. For one, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. There are websites like Bloomscape that have quality plants that are delivered right to your home, potted and ready to go. But they are more expensive than just getting them from, say, the grocery store or garden store. However, I think the quality of the plants and their condition may be better, in my experience. Some plants I’ve acquired from big stores have needed some TLC to thrive, and the convenience of at-home delivery may be worth it. I’ve used all of the above and had good results with everything.

And yes, I do pay for a plant of the month club. There are many, but the one I’m using right now is called The Plant Club via Cratejoy, and so far it’s a delight! (And no, they did not pay me to write this!)

Before you get any plant, if you have pets, make sure it’s safe for them (many are not) or keep it somewhere where they can’t nibble on it. But if you’re ready, here are a few really easy starter plants:

  • Aloe Vera: Doesn’t require much water (it’s a desert plant!) and you can actually use the gel for burns or skin irritation. Just cut off a spike and scrape it out. Being a desert plant, aloe will do great in a sunny spot.
  • Pothos or Philodendron: These two look a lot alike but I’ve found the philodendron grows faster and more aggressively but they’re both beautiful, lush plants that don’t take much work at all and will thrive in all sorts of light levels. Also, you can propagate them and give plant babies to your friends!
  • Sansevieria aka Snake Plants: These tall, beautiful plants don’t only clean the air, they’re extremely hearty and will do fine in low light, so they’re a really good choice for a bedroom (that’s where mine is) and there are lots of beautiful varieties.
  • Spider plants: Like Snake plants, Spider plants can tolerate missed waterings and low light and still thrive. They prefer more light so stick them nearish to a window and you’re good to go.

And here’s my big tip: When you’re beginning plant parenthood, remember that the big mistake (one I’ve made many times) is usually not forgetting to water a plant, but over-watering. These plants, in many cases, evolved to survive dry spells, but if you drown them or, Demeter forbid, keep the soil so moist they develop root rot or fungal infections, that’s not good. An easy rule is just to wait to water until the soil feels dry. If it’s moist, you’re good for now.

And of course, talk to your plants! Enjoy their company! They make great, supportive friends and companions. Of course, if they start talking back or asking for more than water, maybe … call up a human friend, too.

(via: Insider, Image: Warner Brothers)

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Jessica Mason
Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.