Plants as Magic!
One day, about five years ago, while resting and eating the previous night’s leftovers with my college roommate and lifelong friend Abby, we came across a video on how to take old candle jars and turn them into pots for plants. We boiled the leftover wax, removed it from the old candle jars, and set them aside. Then, we visited a local home improvement store.
Having a limited budget, we both picked two discount cacti on the verge of death, about 50 cents each, shared a bag of potting soil, and went home to continue our repurposing project. After potting the struggling cacti into the old candle jars, they thrived! The cacti grew with us over the years as we moved from house to house and grew into young professionals.
Today, my home has roughly two hundred plants of a wide variety of species, colors, shapes and sizes. My old cacti from the candle jar is affectionately named “Richard”. He has remained in my home for the past five years, living in ten different pots over the years. He never stops growing! Moreover, my tallest indoor plant, a Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia Reginae), is about seven feet tall. My smallest plant, a lithop (part of the Aizoaceae family native to Southern Africa), is the size of a quarter. For me, plants represent responsibility, fragility, dependency and hope. Plants demand their caregivers be responsible for them. Yes, a plant receives some of what it needs organically, like absorbing sunlight; but ultimately, if a plant is going to stay in an unnatural environment, we must adjust the environment to meet its needs. Plants can be fragile and easily harmed. Too much light, not enough humidity, overwatering, or pulling roughly at a stem are all ways plants can be harmed. I may have given you pause in considering gardening and raising indoor plants given the required responsibilities; but, you have yet to hear the best part. The best thing that plants do is to provide undeniable hope.
Do you recall the devastating nuclear disaster in Chernobyl? Against all odds, guess what was recently discovered in the area? Native plants. Martin Hajduch, a plant biologist for the Slovak Academy of Sciences, conducted a study on soybeans growing near Chernobyl. The soybeans were so resilient, they adapted to the soil conditions and grew despite all odds. Isn’t that incredible? Imagine if we had the strength of a tiny, seemingly insignificant, soybean. Plants are hope!
Other studies have shown the mental and physical health benefits of plants. In a review by Hall and Knuth (2019), emotional and mental health benefits of plants included decreased depression, reduced anxiety and stress, enhanced memory, and improved creativity and self-esteem, to name a few. Native American tribes use sweet grass to promote emotional strength and dispel negative energy. Sensory gardens, sometimes known as healing gardens, are beneficial to individuals living with or without special educational needs. These gardens offer a variety of plants which appeal to all of the senses and promote positive reactions to new sights, sounds, smells and touch.
It’s an odd thing to say I have a kinship with plants, but I DO! They are magical. Want some magic in your life? Grab any kind of seed from your local home improvement store and plant it with a little dirt in a tiny paper cup or empty egg carton. Give the seed a little light, a little water and a lot of patience. The day it sprouts, you will experience the magic! As your plant grows, share cuttings with your friends. You will be amazed at the magic plants create in your life.
There is a quote that comes to mind when I catch my priorities shifting and I am no longer caring for myself, my plants and the Earth. It comes from a fellow member of the Kentucky Wild Ones Chapter, a chapter of the national organization that studies and fights to preserve native plants for the health of our state.
“No matter what you encounter in the years to come, do not forget to look above at the sky and marvel at the clouds and the stars… Look about and note the individuality of every tree - the architecture of its branches, texture of its bark, venation of its leaves. All these things may be oblivious of us, but we do not need to be oblivious of them. This is what we belong to, and what grounds our sense of self.”
That, I believe, is magic! Plants remind us to pause and appreciate the details around us. So, what are you still doing here? Go plant a seed. Then, go share the magic of plants with the world!
Charles Hall, Melinda Knuth; An Update of the Literature Supporting the Well-Being Benefits of Plants: A Review of the Emotional and Mental Health Benefits of Plants. Journal of Environmental Horticulture 1 March 2019; 37 (1): 30–38.
Elsevier. (2012, April 19). The influence of sensory gardens on the behaviour of children with special educational needs. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. Retrieved January 18, 2023, from https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S187704281200835X?token=C22C57413BFBC5B6367119D246E1E6740D2E7C055871565963437AC8B4D5D05C68A8864E55807FF12D46E462346C4B9B&originRegion=us-east-1&originCreation=20221201165408
How Plants Survived Chernobyl. Science. (n.d.). Retrieved January 18, 2023, from https://www.science.org/content/article/how-plants-survived-chernobyl
Sweet Grass has a pretty sweet history of health and Wellness. Beekman 1802. (n.d.). Retrieved January 18, 2023, from https://beekman1802.com/blogs/almanac/sweet-grass-has-a-pretty-sweet-history-of-health-and-wellness