Does the thought of having to take care of a plant make you want to run for the hills? Does the office plant leer at you from its corner as if it knows that you have killed many of its cousins and wants revenge? Do you shy away from gardens and planters because you think you have the blackest thumb in the world? If you do, then you may have Botanophobia, or fear of plants.
“What if I kill it?” you say. But a fair response would be, “What if you don’t?” The fact of the matter is, plants only need four things to live: air, water, nutrients, and sunlight. So let’s demystify each one.
Air. Air is easy. If you live on planet Earth, there is air. Done. See? You’re 25% of the way to being able to grow plants and you haven’t even done anything yet!
Water. Most of us are lucky enough to have water readily available, so that’s easy, too. And a lot of the time, Mother Nature helps us out. Different plants like different amounts of water, so a good plant book or website can be a lot of help. If you have just one plant, it’s simply a matter of looking it up and giving it what it wants. If you have many, an easy approach could be to water them all moderately. Any plants that you have that are on the ends of the watering spectrum may look sad, but if that happens you can either move them somewhere else or let them go to the Great Compost Heap in the sky.
You are 50% there- that wasn’t so hard, was it? Your thumb might start to get a greenish tinge at this point…
Nutrients. This sounds hard, but doesn’t have to be. It’s true that it is a complicated subject, especially when you go into a garden center and are faced with a wall of 10-10-10, or 20-30-20, or bone meal, fish meal, or lime. And sometimes, it can be very helpful to know exactly which nutrients should go on a particular plant. But that’s why there are experts- they are there for you to ask for help if one of your plants looks sick. And even the experts get confused sometimes. But if you are just someone trying to break onto the gardening scene, spreading a thin layer of compost around your plants in the spring is all you need to do. Compost is nature’s fertilizer, after all.
Only one left…
Sunlight! This means that where you put your plant is important. Some plants like the sun beating down on them all the time, others prefer shade, and others something in between. This information is available everywhere you see plant descriptions. A great website for this, and other plant needs, is www.missouribotanicalgarden.org
See? Plants aren’t such a mystery now, are they? They just want to breathe, drink, eat, and bask in the sun. Not such a bad life goal, really.
So next time that office plant gives you a dirty look, just smile back. You now know all its secrets.