By Nikita Thadani
Something you may not know about me is that I’m what my friends would call a “crazy plant lady.” My interest in plants began in high school when I got my first cactus as a birthday present from a friend, and although that cactus eventually died, my collection of ‘plant babies’ continued to grow. While I started my collection small with just a couple of plants, I now have 16 plants that I love! These include a variety of different kinds of plants, including an air plant, a terrarium, cacti, succulents, a peace lily, an orchid, and more. It’s fun to challenge myself with a new plant and see what different methods work best for certain kinds of plants, and I love learning what the best way is to nurture and grow them. Many other ‘plant parents’ I know have also found niches of specific plants they favor and become a collector of sorts for those kinds of plants.
There are plenty of great reasons you should get a plant, which I’m going to outline here. Some of these are my own personal reasons, but I also drew a lot of these reasons from the amazing horticulture class I took in college with Stephanie Huckestein and Kunru Wang at Virginia Tech in 2019.
- Plants are a great hobby
If you’re like me, and you never had any pets growing up, plants are the next best thing! Plus, they’re very cost effective and take up a lot less room than pets do. Caring for plants gives me a strong sense of well-being and accomplishment by providing me with something to nurture, care for, and grow. There is nothing more satisfying than growing a new plant or watching a small plant grow bigger under your care and knowing your hard work has paid off.
- Plants are aesthetically pleasing and bring the outdoors in.
Did you know that many Americans spend 90% of their time indoors? Unfortunately, this is the reality of many careers these days, and especially given our current pandemic moment. That being said, plants are a great way to bring the outdoors in, and not only that, plants are beautiful to look at. For me personally, a house full of plants looks more like a home. I have plants of all different shapes, sizes, and colors, and I love the way they make my home feel bright and alive.
- Plants create healthier, cleaner air within the home and can increase humidity.
If you’re not convinced by the previous two reasons to get plants, which are a bit subjective, then maybe you can get behind some objective, scientific truth behind the benefit of plants! As you probably are aware, plants release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. This makes plants great for us humans since we need that oxygen to live, and they need the carbon dioxide that we breathe out. Moreover, most plants release 97% of the moisture they absorb through a process called transpiration. This can increase humidity in the home, which helps with respiratory problems and reduces the likelihood of getting a cold, sore throat, and dry skin. In fact, a study in Norway showed that people who had workplaces with plants reported fewer health problems, headaches, fatigue, and some respiratory ailments as compared to those in workplaces without plants.1
If you’re looking for the best plants for filtering toxins in the air, you should look to get a peace lily (super easy to care for!), fern, aglaonema (commonly known as Chinese evergreen), dieffenbachia (commonly known as dumb canes), spider plant (also super easy to care for!), philodendron, rubber tree, pothos (commonly known as Devil’s Ivy), or a ficus.
- You can propagate your plants to make many more – and they make great gifts!
Believe it or not, many plants are actually super easy to grow on your own! While it’s challenging to grow plants from the seed, it’s one of the most satisfying ways to grow a plant as well. That being said, it’s typically very easy to propagate your plants – propagation is when you take a cutting from your current plant, put it in new soil, and grow a whole new plant out of it. You can do a quick google search on how to propagate most kinds of plants – typically from leaf or stem cuttings – and grow several more of the plants you already have. A homegrown plant is one of my favorite gifts to give and to receive!
- You can grow tons of functional plants such as fresh herbs for your cooking or aloe for your skin.
Some of the favorite plants I’ve grown are my functional plants, like basil, aloe, and agave! Although I have never harvested my aloe or agave plants, it’s cool knowing that they have a dual purpose and can be used in my daily life if I wanted. My basil plant was another favorite – it was amazingly aromatic, grew quickly, and I loved using fresh, homegrown basil in my cooking.
For me, these reasons I laid out were more than enough to get me to start my diverse plant collection.. and if these reasons don’t convince you to get a plant, hopefully the pictures I included of my beautiful plants will!