By: Jamie K. Turner
Save the Plants!
Many people find gardening or plant-keeping to be a challenging, yet rewarding process. I am one of those people who likes to buy discounted and dying poinsettia, African violets, or orchids from the local grocery store. I have enjoyed bringing back to life the plants that were neglected and unwanted because they lost their blooms or didn't get watered in the store. I think about how sometimes we discount the resilience of plants that need a little love and care. They are hoping someone recognizes their value and works to help them grow and enjoy a long, happy, and healthy life. There is an innate ability to start from right where they are. I like African violets because you can grow a new plant from a leaf broken off at the stem. I like orchids because even though it might take six months to bloom, blooms can last 6-8 weeks. I like poinsettia because they can thrive in the sun all summer long but have a unique process of exposure to darkness to bloom again. Sometimes you do need to work with a plant, you do need to do some research, and sometimes you do need to ask for help from an expert. Yes, this picture is one of the orchids I've had for several years.
Plants, Save Me?
While you can buy pretty convincing faux plants or even pictures of plants, keeping live plants allows you to learn and provide care, attention, and love. Even industrial-organizational psychologists have found that having greenery in the workplace has positive effects on morale and employee productivity (1). One thing about collecting plants is that they can help filter the air in your home and provide an esthetic flair to your space. Plant-keeping became very popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have found it to be good for their mental health. Trees.com published an interesting article about plant-keeping during the pandemic (2). Caring for plants can be a way to find tranquility.
Plants are the source of many substances used to both heal and hurt. Understand, I’m not talking about growing or caring for certain plants to use them to alter consciousness. I am emphasizing the claim that the process of gardening or plant-keeping can be meditative and can help focus the mind and allow reflection. Planning and creating a healing garden can develop creativity and provide a long-lasting ambient environment to improve mood and satisfaction (4). It can become a place to visualize, be patient, and learn. You may find it interesting that there is garden therapy, also known as horticulture therapy, for addiction recovery (3&5). Many treatment centers around the United States offer this type of therapy.
Plant Health, Verb or Noun?
Growing vegetables can help improve a person’s diet by increasing access to healthy foods. There are innovative ways to grow plants in urban environments (6&7). Plus, knowing the origin of our food can help decrease the worry about exposure to pollutants. One can use these tools to put value back into their physical and mental health. Gardening is a physical activity that can improve mobility and increase physical strength if you remain aware and don’t overdo it.
Intelli-Plants, AKA Plant Smarts!
Growing a garden or keeping plants requires a series of daily or weekly maintenance tasks. The plants need to be tended or will wither or get sick. Plants can drown or scorch. Soil that doesn’t have the proper drainage can cause root rot. You must pay attention to the symptoms and learn what each type of plant needs. Life isn’t so different. You can garden or plant to reduce stress and focus the mind. Moreover, you may gain insight into yourself; some things need tending to in life. You must combat the weeds, treat sickness, quench thirst, get the right amount of nourishment, consider your soil and drainage, and get just the right amount of sunshine. Daily or weekly awareness of symptoms, emotions, and knowledge of personal care will help you thrive in your recovery process.
1. Science Daily (2014). Why plants in the office make us more productive. Science Daily.com. Retrieved 4/19/22 from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140901090735.htm
2. Trees.com (2022). As plant-keeping booms during pandemic, 88% of Americans say the hobby has improved their mental health. Trees.com. Retrieved 4/19/22 from https://www.trees.com/plants-improve-mental-health.
3. American Horticultural Therapy Association (2022).Horticultural Therapy. American Horticultural Therapy Association. Retrieved 4/19/22 from https://www.ahta.org/horticultural-therapy.
4. Hazen, T. (n.d.) Therapeutic Garden Characteristics. Quarterly Publication Of The American Horticultural Therapy Association, 41(2). Retrieved 4/19/22 from chrome-extension://oemmndcbldboiebfnladdacbdfmadadm/https://www.ahta.org/assets/docs/therapeuticgardencharacteristics_ahtareprintpermission.pdf
5. Messer Diehl, E. R. (2007). Definitions and Positions. American Horticultural Therapy Association. Retrieved 4/19/22 from chrome-extension://oemmndcbldboiebfnladdacbdfmadadm/https://ahta.memberclicks.net/assets/docs/final_ht_position_paper_updated_409.pdf
6. Meza, N. (2018). How to Grow Plants in the City With Urban Gardening. Greenway Biotech, Inc. Retrieved 4/19/22 from https://www.greenwaybiotech.com/blogs/gardening-articles/the-concrete-jungle-just-became-a-little-more-edible-with-urban-gardening
7. Espiritu, K. (2021). Urban Gardening Techniques; How to make the most of your growing space. Urban Gardening Supply Company.Retrieved 4/19/22 from here.