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What hope do we have?

What hope do we have?

I took a stroll through Allan Gardens in the morning, prior to the gardeners making their daily rounds to see how many visible plant imperfections I could find.

I’m doing this so you have a starting point to make a much needed change amidst this houseplant trend. Traditional houseplant care is heavily focused on looking at visible plant imperfections and suggesting some change in your care routine. This perspective gives the impression that any and all signs of decay are “bad things”, which are preventable and correctable. On a higher level, it also creates the illusion that your actions have a larger role than the environment in determining the plant’s fate/success. Notice how we casually say “I killed the plant” or “she has a greenthumb”, which are human-centered statements as opposed to “it died” or “the conditions are ideal for growth.”

So what’s wrong with that?

It sets unrealistic expectations that lead to unsatisfied, self-blaming plant parents. This is the reason for the decline in houseplants towards the 1990s - because houseplants were just seen as decor that required maintenance. Once the tasks of caring for plants became a chore and the heartaches of losing plants too frequent, people simply gave up.

There is hope!

Showing you these photos can stir up some possible thoughts. If plants growing in a conservatory can look like this even with professional gardeners at work then either:

  1. These gardeners aren’t doing their job right (human-centered approach), or…

  2. This is a normal and natural part of long-term plant life (holistic approach)

Older maidenhair fern fronds die off because of low soil moisture or nutrient reallocation. The gardeners will cut this off and you would never know.

Older maidenhair fern fronds die off because of low soil moisture or nutrient reallocation. The gardeners will cut this off and you would never know.

If you find “imperfections” on the oldest leaves, how about changing your perspective to: here’s a leaf that has paid its dues. I get that the loss of a Ficus lyrata leaf can be especially heartbreaking because they are so big but hoping that every leaf could stay on the plant and look perfect forever with “proper care” is unrealistic and unhealthy.

If you find “imperfections” on the oldest leaves, how about changing your perspective to: here’s a leaf that has paid its dues. I get that the loss of a Ficus lyrata leaf can be especially heartbreaking because they are so big but hoping that every leaf could stay on the plant and look perfect forever with “proper care” is unrealistic and unhealthy.

This image is proof that low humidity does NOT directly cause brown tips - literally every leaf on this Calathea zebrina had them. The plant was hard at work, transpiring the water that was given to it. The minerals/impurities will eventually wear out the leaf tips - that’s just how it goes. This planter will soon be replaced by another plant - such is the cycle of gardening.

This image is proof that low humidity does NOT directly cause brown tips - literally every leaf on this Calathea zebrina had them. The plant was hard at work, transpiring the water that was given to it. The minerals/impurities will eventually wear out the leaf tips - that’s just how it goes. This planter will soon be replaced by another plant - such is the cycle of gardening.

Focusing on the imperfect leaf tips? You’ll miss the fact that this Monstera has FRUITS!!!

Focusing on the imperfect leaf tips? You’ll miss the fact that this Monstera has FRUITS!!!

Normal and natural: the oldest leaves must become yellow to reallocate their nutrients to newer leaves. [Left] Older leaves bear the marks (brown leaf tips) of hard work (transpiration). [Right] Newest leaves are perfect and pristine - they will inevitably become brown.

Normal and natural: the oldest leaves must become yellow to reallocate their nutrients to newer leaves. [Left] Older leaves bear the marks (brown leaf tips) of hard work (transpiration). [Right] Newest leaves are perfect and pristine - they will inevitably become brown.

My goal for writing “The New Plant Parent” is to free you from the guilt and unrealistic expectations caused by the old ways of houseplant care. By taking a more holistic approach and focusing on the most important factors/actions for plant life, you can have a more rewarding plant parenthood experience!

Maidenhair Fern Care - Not That Delicate

Maidenhair Fern Care - Not That Delicate

Why 'overwatering' is the worst concept in house plant care

Why 'overwatering' is the worst concept in house plant care