Last fall I wrote a blog post about bringing my plants inside and setting them up to survive the dark, cold, dry months of winter. I debated whether it was worth the effort to buy lamps and humidifiers or if I should “let the leaves fall” as it were. I ultimately decided that with some minimal and strategic planning on my part I could keep my plants alive long enough to see spring. And I’m excited to share that it [mostly] worked. Here’s what I learned.
Grouping Plants Together Makes for Happy Plants (We need each other)
Some plants are very social beings. Placing humidity-loving plants together helps them maintain the air moisture levels they need. Humans need other humans to thrive too, some more than others. But what do you do when one of your plants is sick? Or you bring home a new plant and you don’t know where it’s been? You quarantine it of course! The health of the whole has to outweigh humidity happy hour. I imagine my quarantined plants waving heroically from the other side of the room, “We’ll be together soon friends!”
Seemingly Dead Things Will Often Come Back to Life (Remember the roots)
I thought I lost several plants this winter, deleted them from my plant app and put them in a corner to be ignored. And then, wouldn’t you know, they sent up fresh green sprouts while my back was turned. Just because something looks hopeless, abandoned and ready for the dumpster, doesn’t mean there isn’t magic happening where you can’t see. Sometimes a little rest is what we need to obstinately come back for more living.
Plant Lights are Good for People Too (We should be treating ourselves at least as well as we treat our friends)
I strongly dislike the darkness of winter. I’ve even thought about buying one of those grow lights for people. But I told myself I didn’t need to go to that extreme. I could survive, just like my ancestors, who only had candles and firelight to brighten the winter! Also, I’m cheap. And then I went out and bought an array of LED, Full Spectrum, timed lamps for a bunch of plants. I thought I was just being of service to my friends. Turns out having pockets of light shining on greenery all over my house is a complete mood changer for me! And since they are on timers, it’s care for myself that I never even have to think about. Sometimes you don’t know what you need until you do it for someone else.
Spring is a Process (Patience, strategy, stay vigilant)
In Ohio, for plant lovers, spring is a tricky season full of false starts and risky dealings. Yesterday it was 70 degrees and sunny, in two weeks the forecast says low in the 30s. A week ago (having a very short memory for all the times Spring has burned me) I put a few of my quarantined plants outside, thinking the sun and fresh air would do them well. I don’t think I need to tell you what happened when I forgot them for a few days. There’s nothing worse than meticulously trying to keep something alive for months, just to have it die in one night of negligence.
I know we’re all impatient to “get back to normal” [insert Princess Bride reference: You keep using those words, I do not think they mean what you think they mean] but we can’t let all of the sacrifices we’ve made this year mean nothing. We must be strategic and remain vigilant, for the sake of our children, for the sake of those high risk, for the sake of those with limited access - for the sake of all the people we’ve been trying to protect all this time. This is not the time to forget someone outside.