My Indoor Plants and How They Help Me be More Mindful
In early 2018, I finally bought my first houseplants.
I’d always loved the idea of having a beautiful, fresh and calming indoor plant collection, but my notorious black thumb always held me back. I had an herb garden once, which I completely neglected. I had a lovely terrarium which I overwatered (it grew mouldy and everything died). It seemed that I either under-loved or over-loved my plants to their sad deaths.
How would it feel to be responsible for a lush and vibrant indoor plant only to watch it slowly wither away and eventually die?
I didn’t particularly want to find out.
However, my Pinterest indoor plant board could only sustain me for so long – it was time for the real deal. I mustered up some courage and bought myself a Peace Lily and a Philodendron Selloum. I made a spreadsheet of their sunlight, water and fertilizing needs. I gave them names to make myself take responsibility for them (Lil and Phil). I chose some lovely pots to put them in.
Slowly but surely, I watched new leaves grow and unfold. My indoor plants began to thrive.
And so, my enthusiasm for indoor plants really kicked up a notch!
My partner’s mum dug up some of a variegated Aspidistra from her garden and gave it to me. Also known as Cast Iron plants, they’re supposedly quite difficult to kill. Unfortunately, it got a little too much sunlight and the leaves began turning brown (oops). I separated some of the healthy, new growth into another pot and called it Elsa. She’s now doing much better!
On an outing with my friend Alyse, I bought Finley the “bambino” Fiddle Leaf Fig, which I separated into two plants (so now I also have Finley Junior). I tried to propagate a branch which came off during the separation and it did grow roots, but it died not long after I planted it in soil.
I also have two Snake Plants (Sal and Stan) and a Peperomia Polybotrya called Pia, which was a gift on the night of my book launch from my friend, Steph.
Before we left Melbourne, I traded my huge Philodendron and Morty the Monstera Deliciosa for a Devil’s Ivy (yet to be named) and Callie, a Calathea Ornata. These small plants are much more appropriate for our smaller space – and they’re so cute!
Now that you’re better acquainted with my plants, I thought I’d share a few reasons why my plants help me be more mindful…
How my indoor plants help me practise mindfulness
1: It’s important (and exciting!) to observe indoor plants
Most days, I wander around and look at all my indoor plants. I check their leaves for dust and sometimes, I find new growth (which is always really exciting!). This simple activity of observation is a wonderful mindfulness practice and it helps me focus my attention on the world around me.
2: I’ve become more accepting of imperfections
Not all of my plants are perfect. I accidentally gave Lil (the Peace Lily) too much fertilizer and the green leaves got burnt around the edges. Finley dropped about half his leaves when we moved home. Elsa the Aspidistra got burned by the sun.
As a bit of a perfectionist, I’ve had to become more used to making mistakes and embracing imperfections. I think this has helped me become less judgemental, which has had a positive impact on my mindfulness practices.
3: My indoor plants help me feel connected with nature
Spending time around nature is a simple and meaningful mindfulness practice for me. Having grown up on a farm with a huge garden and surrounded by mountains, I feel more at home when there is nature around me.
Various research has also shown that plants and gardens can help people feel less stressed and more calm. This can create more opportunities for mindfulness practices (and the techniques might feel easier to use, too!).
4: Watering plants can be a mindful task
I often check the soil to decide when it’s time to water my plants. I love taking them outside to get some fresh air and light, then I use my watering can to distribute the water. I wait a minute or two, then make sure all the water has drained out. There’s something peaceful and calming about tending to my plants in this way.
Most days I also mist many of my plants with water, too.
5: Indoor plants have given me opportunities to safely feel challenging emotions
Growing indoor plants can be intimidating and frustrating. When a plant isn’t doing well, it can be sad. I’ve noticed myself feeling impatient – wanting plants to grow faster, or better, or bigger.
Sometimes, I feel guilty because I gave a plant too much water or too much light.
Feeling these emotions in small amounts has helped me practise being non-judgemental of them and gradually building up resilience.
6: I’m paying more attention to the seasons and environment
My indoor plants are living, growing, changing things. Having a little bit of nature inside my home helps me feel connected to the environment and the seasons. When it’s warm and sunny, I take my plants outside to enjoy some light and air. When it’s cold, I move them to warmer parts of the house and provide them with less water. I pay attention to the seasons and weather, knowing it can change the needs of my plants.
7: My indoor plants have encouraged me to be more creative
Creative activities can be really helpful in facilitating mindfulness. When we become immersed in creative activities, our focus is on the present moment and we forget about thinking of the past or future.
Re-potting a plant, building a terrarium, creating my own plant care guides, photographing my plants and using my plants to decorate my home are all creative activities I’ve been immersed in, thanks to keeping indoor plants. Next on my list is making my own macramé plant hanger!
8: I feel more grateful for the air and breathing it in
I have several plants which are especially good for air quality (according to NASA!).
Knowing that my plants are working to help purify the air, I like to sit and appreciate it. Just by tuning into my breath for a few moments, I tend to feel calmer and more grounded. It’s a simple way I practise mindfulness in my everyday life and it feels even more meaningful with my indoor plants around!
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about my indoor plants and how they help me practise mindfulness. I’d love to hear in the comments below – do you have any indoor plants?