Ladies and gentlemen, Introducing, the town’s newest plant mama.
I have contemplated getting a house plant for quite some time. Since the pandemic to be specific. There is something about being confined within concrete walls over long stretches of time that made me crave diversity of life within my space. Seeing as fauna was too much of a responsibility, let alone my landlord’s no-pet policy- I opted for flora. It was one of those things I often vowed to eventually do, but procrastination and a self-diagnosed fear of committing always got the better of me. Up until by virtue of forces one could only attribute to the universe, I was inadvertently shoved into plant parenthood. Someone thought it wise to gift me a house plant today.
All I have to do now is find out how to keep this thing alive. It shouldn’t be that hard, right?
Note to self: This is NOT a drill.
I named her Manifest. I also decided she’s a she.
It has just occurred to me that I do not know the first thing about plant care besides watering. Plants, after all, require more than mere water to survive, don’t they? I went ahead and did what any man, or woman, not living under a rock would do- I googled it. First thing first, to find out what species my plant baby is.
Google lens to the rescue!
The results are in. She’s a Chinese Evergreen. Apparently, she’s low maintenance. This loosely translates to if she dies, no other explanation would suffice except that I’m pretty much bad at this.
Again, no pressure.
A quick search on the internet for plant care tips turned into a rabbit hole of information overload. Don’t do this, do that. Don’t do that, do this.
You know what, I’ll wing it.
So far, so good.
My entire personality suddenly revolves around being a plant mom. I updated the bio on all my socials to read ‘Plant mommy’. I hit the follow button on all accounts affiliated to the plant parenting community. I often take pictures of Manifest and post them all over my socials. “Good morning, from Manifest and I” one caption read.
I now think of myself as something of a plant influencer.
I am also contemplating opening Manifest her own Instagram account.
Ladies and gentlemen welcome to what we call the honeymoon stage. This blissful phase comes at the start of plant parenthood, just as it does in any other relationship. Plant parents are more nurturing, and enthusiastic towards their plants during these rosy days. You are likely more attentive to the slightest changes in the plant. This is the time to bring to fruition that houseplant aesthetic you have been hoarding on your Pinterest saved list. You walk into the room, and your house plant is the first thing you notice. You live, breathe and eat plant content. You are delightfully euphoric and utterly consumed by your plant baby. You make a point to proudly mention your plant’s sprouting leaf to anyone who cares to listen with pictures to boot. Given the chance, you could deliver an entire Ted Talk on plant parenthood.
“So, this is how it feels to have a plant?” you think. “You mere mortals,” you believe as you contemplate all those yet to join the exclusive plant community.
“I pity them,” you conclude.
The rubber has hit the road.
My honeymooning days with Manifest are long gone. The allure of plant parenting has worn off. I now realize there is more to this than the aesthetic of it. The past few weeks have been nothing short of a rollercoaster. The tips of a few leaves began to turn crispy brown. This was hardly surprising given my one-week out-of-town excursion. My attempt at an unmonitored DIY drip watering system by piercing a hole in the cap of a water-filled bottle and planting it into the soil head first failed spectacularly. The water hadn’t budged an inch when I returned home. That’s one week without hydration. Despairingly, it was irreversible. No matter how much water I tried to pump into the soil, the leaves wouldn’t come back to life. Things then went from the frying pot into the fire.
Turns out over-watering is just as bad as underwatering.
Water is life. What they forgot to mention is that water is death too. A scalpel in the hands of a surgeon saves lives, whilst, for those of a murderer, it takes them. There’s a little something called root rot that I find myself presently dealing with. It comes about upon overwatering. The effect it has is that the roots cannot pick up any nutrients.
Well… That’s no good.
Plant update: She’s alive! I’m no deadbeat after all.
Upon a whole lot of googling and attentive rehabilitation, Manifest is back on her feet, or as I’d put it, back on her roots. Some days are good, others not quite. I am steadily getting into the rhythm of owning a plant. Every day is a day to learn and unlearn plant care techniques. From knowing my way around water soluble fertilizers, repotting, pest control, all the way to simple hacks that make my experience all the more easy.
We’ve come a long way Manifest and I. Being a plant mom has in no way been easy, but it sure has been fulfilling. I look forward to those few minutes I take off my day to water her. Those brief moments of slowness in the thick hustle and bustle of the rat race are gratifying. A much-needed pause. A small breather to take it all in and process. Manifest has brought vibrance to my space and vitality to my soul.
What are you waiting for? Go get yourself a plant baby!