The Downtime Guide To: Becoming A Plant Parent

The Downtime Guide To: Becoming A Plant Parent

Brianna Holt

I spent the first three months of quarantine back home in Texas with my mom. It was an easy decision to make, given that my lease in my shared apartment in Brooklyn was ending and I was unsure of whether I would be laid off from my job, or if I would just quit altogether. While quarantined in Dallas, I realized staying in my childhood bedroom was not going to be the end-all-be-all, and that finding a new place in Brooklyn was top on my list of #PandemicGoals. And so I did. I scooped up a large studio in Bed Stuy (Bushwick, I miss you) and signed on, sight unseen. I spent my last few weeks in Texas scrolling through Pinterest for “brownstone decor ideas” and came across the best accent piece for the Victorian-style apartment waiting for me back in New York—plants.

As someone who has never been interested in occupying my space with plants, due to always traveling and coming from a place of ignorance with the craft, my green thumb was activated overnight, after seeing dozens of beautiful brownstone apartments filled with succulents, ivy, and orchids. Secretly, I always envied my friends who would post videos of themselves repotting their ficus and shopping for planters at independently-owned nurseries in Brooklyn. It was a life I could not imagine for myself but desperately wished to emulate. Plant moms and dads just seemed so cool and I was still stuck with my fake cactus from TJ Maxx and an occasional bouquet of roses.

With that being said, I am now a proud owner of six house plants and two outdoor plants. Truthfully, they’ve been through some tough times but currently are all living their best lives. Thanks to friends who I trust with my house key when I’m out of town, advice from the staff at my local nursery, and tips from online plant blogs, I’m proud to say I am a successful plant mama and skilled enough to advise future plant parents on how to make the transition without losing money while perfecting the craft.

Where should you cop your crop?

If you’re looking to save money and work with a small budget for your first plant family, I would highly recommend starting with The Home Depot or Lowe’s. Hardware stores, especially large ones, usually have low prices on indoor and outdoor plants because their inventory is focused on the entire home. If you want a wider selection and are willing to drop a bit more cash, a plant store or nursery could be a great option. These independently-owned shops typically have repotting support and the staff are well-versed in all types of care. If you’re in Brooklyn like me, I would highly suggest Natty Garden, Bohaus, or Seasons.

Start small—in quantity, size, and care

I get it, shopping for plants is exciting and the moment you enter a nursery, you’ll want to splurge on anything and everything that attracts your eye. But simply, do not. If it’s your first time buying plants, it’s always better to start with only one or two, to allow yourself enough time to give them the best care possible. Additionally, smaller plants are usually easier to take care of—they often require less water and can be easily stored in bright places, like windows. Lastly, pick a plant that requires the least amount of care. This means occasional watering, reacts to climates well, and doesn’t grow quickly. It’s your first time, there’s no need to go all out in the beginning. Some of my favorite low maintenance houseplants are aloe vera, jade plants, peace lilies, and snake plants.

Evaluate your climate/living space

Before sealing the deal on any plant, it’s best to evaluate your living space. Does your room get a lot of sunlight? Is there a ton of window space? How about your city’s climate? Is it cold or warm? All of these things matter when deciding on your houseplant. You wouldn’t try to grow succulents in a dark climate—but an aralia would actually thrive.

Only buy planters that allow for drainage

Ah, the fun part—planters. First and foremost, only buy pots that allow for drainage. If there aren’t holes in the bottom of your planter, then it’s best to pass. Clay bowls and reused mason jars might be aesthetically pleasing in your space, but their lack of drainage can cause water to collect at the base of the pot, which can lead to bacteria, fungus and root rot. Stick to pots with holes and place it on a plate to avoid excess water ruining your new coffee table or freshly-painted window sill.

Tip: Buying plant pots can be pricey. Check out the home goods section at TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, or Target before going to a speciality shop.

Make a watering schedule

Just do it. The same way you save coffee dates with friends and TV show premieres to your calendar, your plant’s watering schedule deserves the same. This will make it more than simple to remember when to water your new plant baby. Plant species can differ tremendously, and while some need to be watered daily or every other day, others might only need a refill twice a month.

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