A Guide to Social Distancing with Plants – Part 1: Care
The global coronavirus pandemic has turned nearly all elements of daily life upside down. As we adjust to more time at home, we realize that even though we are isolated and struggling in our individual ways, we are not alone. Situations such as these have a strange way of grounding us back into what is important in each of our lives – they allow us to take a step back, slow down and heal together while we are apart.
At Pistils we have a new found gratitude for our houseplants that surround us every day. They provide us with a constant gradual life force, clean air, and an overwhelming sense of calm. We thought it might be useful to share some of the things we are doing to give our houseplants extra care so they can continue taking extra care of us. Think of it as a guide to social distancing with your houseplants.
Social Distancing With Plants – Part 1: Care
Get to Know Them
To start, we can get to know our houseplants better. Learning about where they are from and what their natural environment is like can help us better understand how to better care for each unique houseplant. Settle in to a comfy chair with a good plant book (or even just your laptop) and learn about who they are and where they come from.
Some of our favorites include:
- Houseplants: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Growing, and Caring for Indoor Plants is a staple to any houseplant enthusiast’s bookshelf. In full color this book dives deep into care and tips for over 150 houseplants. It is a comprehensive and well-organized gem.
- Latin for Gardeners explains what is hidden within a name. You can understand a lot about plants from knowing what their Latin names are and what they mean. Uncover hidden meanings through the Latin language while gaining an appreciation of plant taxonomy.
- Indoor Green: Living with Plants is a stunning photographic tour of plant filled spaces around the world. It is a page turner soaked with ideas and inspiration for crafting your own inner jungle.
Host Regular Check-Ins
Host regular check-ins with your green family members, where you see how each houseplant is doing and what it needs to stay happy and healthy. It can be helpful to keep a log of who got what care and when. You might even spend time giving all your houseplants a fitting new name. Here is a list of things to check for regularly and keep notes on.
- Water: Perhaps more important than a strict watering schedule is regularly checking the soil moisture levels. Seasons change and plants dry out at different rates during the year. You can check to see if your plant is thirsty by assessing the soil moisture. You can do this by getting your hands dirty and digging a few fingers into the soil or use a pencil or chopstick. For our more scientific plant parents you might want to invest in a soil moisture meter to more accurately assess water needs.
- Soil, Root Health: When was the last time you refreshed your plants soil? How quickly does water run through the pot? Is the soil compacted and crowded with roots? These questions are things to check in on to establish when it is time to repot or simply refresh your houseplants soil.
- Light: Is your plant actively growing where it is placed? If not maybe consider moving your friend to a brighter spot, even if just for a few days a week.
- Fertilizer: Springtime is the perfect time to start feeding our plants their essential vitamins found in houseplant fertilizers.
Jesse, caring for plants in his loft
Keep Them Looking Their Best
Just like us our houseplants need the periodical spa day. Here are some ways to keep your plants looking and feeling their best:
- Preening: With a nice pair of sharp sheers trim off brown tips and older browning leaves.
- Dust and Shine Leaves: Dusting leaves can help plants photosynthesize better. To do this support the bottom of the leaf with one hand and with the other gently wipe dust off with a clean damp sponge or cloth. You can shine them if you prefer by diluting neem oil and water and applying this mixture to leaf surfaces.
- Rotate: Plants grow towards the sunlight they are receiving most so regularly turning them will result in a more even growth and make the plant look more uniform in shape.
- Support: Some plants might need a little support to correct their posture, you can stake unruly and vining plants with a sphagnum moss pole, bamboo, or other things you have around the house.
Brittany, social distancing with her Monstera deliciosa
Enjoy Your Plants
There is quite a bit of scientific evidence that simply enjoying your houseplants has the potential to improve your health. Simply put, our houseplants act as a grounding reminder of the present moment. They bring us back to the reality of time passing through natural cycles of growth.
There is staggering evidence that having plants around helps you to stay calm and focused, alleviate stress, have a greater sense of purpose, and an appreciation for life. Plants clean our air, add humidity, and refresh oxygen helping us to breathe a little easier. Perhaps most importantly they are beings of hope that gently guide us throughout our lives.
Owen, social distancing with his Selenicereus grandiflora
What better time to show the green members of our family we appreciate them than now when many of us are confined to the spaces we share with them? Let’s learn from our houseplants and take a moment to slow down and grow; let’s shower them in gratitude for the positive and stress-free spaces they create for us every day.
Words by Brittany Oxford