Lent is, traditionally, a time of self reflection for 40 days, starting on Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter. Many people elect to give up a vice or something they enjoy during that time as a sign of sacrifice, to test their self-discipline, and to extend themselves in service to others.
As a practicing Catholic, this tradition does exist in my family. However, this year I am NOT planning to give up one thing that brings me joy—buying houseplants.
With some extra time on my hands in 2020, I took up indoor gardening. I’ve always been an outdoor gardener but shied away from tropicals because I did not understand them. As I took the time to study each plant’s needs, I found that caring for indoor plants isn’t more challenging than my outdoor ones. Fast forward to 2021, and I'm now a proud owner of more than 30 household plants. So, why am I choosing not to put the breaks on spending money on plants during the Lenten season? Here are my five reasons:
They Are Nature's Therapy
Nobody likes stress. Usually, I seek the comfort of my outdoor garden to see me through stressful times. Getting my hands in the dirt has always soothed me and keeps my mind focused. As cooler weather settled in, I had limited time in the garden. Thus, I turned to houseplants. I found that focusing a few minutes per day on taking care of my plant babies had the same soothing effects as my garden chores.
I Am Selective
I am naturally a thrifty person. Houseplants can get expensive, and, of course, there are some rare specimens I would love to have. However, I keep a budget and only pick plants that genuinely bring me joy. I also love to propagate the plants that I have and use them for trading with other planty people for varieties I do not have.
It Pushes Me to Keep a Routine
Plants, like people, thrive on a routine. Both my husband and I work from home, and our kids are schooled at home. So, the days can easily blend if I don’t make an effort to set a routine. My houseplants make it easy! I start my day with a cup of coffee and walk to each of my plants, giving them a visual inspection for any signs of stress. Then, I mist the plants that love humidity. On warmer days, I will even put some of them outdoors to get fresh air. I water them on Saturday if needed. It’s a chore that takes me a couple of hours each weekend.
Before having indoor plants, I never really stuck to a strict schedule. However, now that I have one, I find that it gives me a better sense of control, and it forces me to focus on organization and stay on top of things. Unlike with outdoor plants, if you forget to water it or prune it, it will survive under most natural conditions. With indoor plants, their lives are in your hands.
I Have Learned Valuable Lessons
Caring for my menagerie of plants has taught me to pay attention to the details and slow down. The best lessons are learned through mistakes and observations. Even though I may miss a mealybug infestation, or even under the best of care, I may lose a plant, I learned from my mistakes. These lessons quickly adapted to my everyday life, and I am more observant and not so down-trodden when I make a mistake. I apply what I learn and move on—there’s no reason to wallow on what could have been.
It Makes Me Happy
It takes three things to make a plant happy—sunshine, water, and fresh air. Ironically, the same things can make me happy. Whenever I have a struggling plant, I take it outdoors (if the weather permits) and give it a little spa day. I do that same for myself whenever I feel the pressure of a work deadline or my kids drive me crazy. Lent is a time for self-examination and reflection. It’s a time to slow down and think about the path you are on and what those choices will lead you. I won’t be giving up buying plants for Lent this year. However, I will take to heart the happiness they bring and share some of that joy with others. For this year, perhaps I shall give up my recently gained 15 pounds. Taking care of all those plants doesn’t exactly make those extra pounds disappear!