Unemployment rates are high and people are trapped inside their homes as a worldwide pandemic rages outside. It’s easy to feel down, thanks to dismal job prospects and lack of social interaction. Bringing people over for a kickback is out of the question — and wildly irresponsible. Not everyone has the space to take up a virtual dance class, and you can only binge so many seasons of America’s Next Top Model before it gets old.
What else can you do other than gaze listlessly out the window and yearn for the bygone days of the great outdoors and unbound freedom?
Yes, the answer is plants. Bear with me here. Several studies have already touted their benefits. Not only do they clean the air as NASA discovered, but they also improve concentration and productivity, reduce stress, and boost your mood.
If you’re feeling lonely at home (no pets, roommates, or a partner to keep you company), why not nurture a plant? It keeps you occupied and your personal space aesthetically pleasing.
“But I’ve never had a plant before!”, you exclaim. Not to worry. I, too, had no plant-rearing experience, yet here I am, a proud mom to a healthy pothos.
Here are a few easy-to-nurture starter plants for newbies.
1. Golden Pothos
The golden pothos is perhaps the easiest houseplant to rear. Thriving in homes with minimal sunlight, this indomitable plant can survive even if you forget to water it. Of course, give it a good soak once a week, lest its green-and-yellow spade-shaped leaves begin to wilt. With vines that grow as long as 10 feet, you can place this on top of your shelf or leaf it hanging (ha-ha) from the ceiling, inside a macrame planter.
2. Fiddle Leaf Fig
The fiddle leaf fig is not as easy going as the golden pothos, but it can survive less-than-ideal conditions. Its ideal temperature is warm and moist, between 60 to 80 degrees, away from air conditioning and heating vents. It prefers moist soil, but don’t let it sit in water. Because it thrives in direct, unfiltered sunlight, place it next to a window.
3. Rubber Plant
The rubber plant, a native to Southeast Asia, has large glossy and vibrant leaves. Like the fiddle leaf fig, it thrives in direct, unfiltered light, even withstanding the heat of the morning sun. It also thrives with frequent watering — it’s more thirsty than the golden pothos. If tended well, it will grow quickly, which means you’ll need to repot it each year.
Like the rubber plant, the philodendron is native to the tropical regions. Unlike the rubber plant, it prefers light shade, although it can adjust to direct sunlight. However, with too much sun, the philodendron will turn yellow. Keep its soil moist at all times without overwatering to avoid root rot. If you want larger leaves, regularly give it fertilizer.
5. ZZ Plant
The golden pothos is easy to care for, sure, but there’s another plant that will give it a run for its money: the ZZ plant. This Eastern African houseplant is low maintenance. Water it every couple of weeks, place it under indirect sunlight, and it will thrive. If you’re a new plant parent with dubious plant-rearing skills, this is your best option.
Dieffenbachia, or “dumb cane,” if well tended can grow as tall as 10 feet with leaves as long as 20 inches. But don’t worry. This plant won’t typically reach that size when raised indoors. Place it in an area where it receives bright light during the winter months and indirect sunlight during the rest of the year. Don’t let its soil dry out, but make sure it drains well to prevent root rot.
We’re in a weird time of isolation and uncertainty. As we spend most of our waking moments at home sans social interaction, it’s easy to feel down or lonely. Studies have shown plants to affect mood, and with more time in your hands for a new hobby, why not work on that green thumb?