For the past year and a half or so, I have taken up houseplant collecting as a hobby. I already owned a few plants and occasionally grew cooking herbs in my kitchen window sill. I grew up watching my grandmother tend to her plants, caring for them with a sense of duty and patience I have now come to appreciate. But it wasn’t until my grandmother died, and I received over a half dozen plants at the funeral, that I began to take it a bit seriously. I had no idea how much this hobby would be therapy for and ministry to me.
Here are some of the lessons I have learned:
- Stop expecting constant (visible) growth. The idea that I, I mean the plants, aren’t visibly producing blooms or leaves doesn’t mean there is a problem. Some plants have dormant periods, kind of like a hibernating bear. They use less water and drop leaves to reduce their energy consumption. They rest! I learned that doing all this moving about, mentally and physically, isn’t always wise. Being addicted or overly expectant of tangible payoff will cause you to overthink. Overthinking leads to overdoing.
- Stop trying so hard. Over watering, over manipulation and over feeding will kill or cause fungus. I lost my rattlesnake plant and almost lost my Amazonian elephant ear this way. I drenched them both, because they “love moisture”. What was I even trying to prove by deviating? What was all that extra “effort” for? They were perfectly content receiving that from the steam in the bathroom, but I didn’t leave well enough alone. I learned that I had to reevaluate what it means to tie my value to being needed and helpful.
- Leave spaces you’ve outgrown in order to continue thriving. My Aloe Vera taught me this. Like most plants, growing slows when the roots are cramped into a pot that is too small. A space that was once familiar and spacious, became suffocating. Moving it to new planters was not easy. There was dirt all over the floor and I had to be careful not to damage the intricate root system. But it was worth it.
- Don’t be afraid or ashamed to let go. I have lost a few plants along this journey. Each loss is hard for me emotionally. I sometimes feel that the plants are connection to my grandmother, especially the ones from the funeral. I did not want to lose any of them, because I felt like I letting her down. I have an Arrowhead on life support in a corner right now. I tried everything i could to keep it alive, but after 7 months, your girl will submit it to the dirt pile in my backyard soon enough. I finally let the withered Dumb Cane go a few weeks ago, after nursing it for weeks.
- Advocate for what you need. Peaces lilies are beautiful, yet hardy. They don’t require much attention, needing just a little water and hardly any light to live. They are hard to kill and easy to forget, much like most of who are considered “the strong one”. Self-reliant as it is, the peace lily have no problem letting you know when they need water. Their stems wilt and look so sad when the plant is thirsty. Once you water them, though, they make a dramatic transformation. They are renewed. The benefits of the vunerable far outweigh the martydom of silence. LaToyia, say when you need help.
The spilled dirt, the sweaty brow from re-potting greenery in my hot garage, the rejoicing in new blooms and shoots, mourning the loss of the dead…all have been satisfying and therapeutic. I am so grateful.
Here are some of my babies. RIP to the ones that didn’t survive.
4 thoughts on “The Blooms Teach”
You’ve done it again! I do declare, your writing allows me to feel every word of it. Keep going Latoyia. You’re on to something. Love, Momma
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks Momma. *hugs*
I enjoyed reading this article. Very touching and truthful. Truth is hard to find these days i think. Good stuff, keep writing!
Thank you for your positive feedback