Tara, 29, a resident of Greater Kailash, recently added three houseplants to her collection of fourteen houseplants that she nurtures and takes care of – not only as a lifestyle choice but also to stay closer to nature for her stress-relieving therapy. “I love their presence. They make me feel lively and fresh. They also add a pop of green, making the place vibrant and cozy”, she says. Her friends call her a ‘plant mom’ because she treats the plants like her babies. “That’s because I talk to the plants about my day and worries. It is a therapeutic process for me. Also, a study by the Royal Horticultural Society shows that talking to plants helps them grow as sound spurs their growth. While it’s not applicable for all plants, it has definitely worked on my money plant”, she says, pointing at the 5-feet tall money plant climber in her living room, which was only a foot tall when she had bought it a few months ago.
Tara has various potted plants around her house: betel leaf, lily, cobra fern, nerve, raphis palm, flamingo, and the most common one besides money plant – snake plant. She has named each one of these plants. She calls her money plant Plutus, a reference to the Greek God of wealth, Plutus.
Inspired to be ‘plant parents’
Tara’s first plants were the ones given by her mother – a rose sapling and a cactus. “The plants remind me of my mom. When she was sad, she used to go sit in the little garden in our courtyard. When she was happy, she would get another plant. That’s why I take pride in being called a plant mom. I want my mother’s soul to shine in me”, Tara says.
The 25-year-old Roshni’s love for plants and gardening comes from her mother. “My mom used to enjoy gardening. It kept her busy, and the hobby was rewarding. But for today’s generation, in a fast-paced life, gardening is not a popular hobby choice. We don’t have time for a relaxed lunch, let alone adopting a pet. But I absolutely love plants, so I got a few potted plants for my room. They are very easy to maintain”, she says.
Lockdown was a challenging phase, with everyone restricted to the four walls of their house for the most part. The flux of bottled emotions in the presence of family members was a burden to many. Some were experiencing the double whammy of getting anxious about becoming depressed. Sameer, 32, too was stuck in a similar situation when he broke up with his then-girlfriend right before the pandemic.“I had become aloof. I felt caged. I wanted to adopt a pet to keep me company but didn’t have the money to take care of it. My sister got really worried about me and sent me a jade plant pot. Looking after it and maintaining it was easy. I felt like my time was being utilized productively, which helped me immensely”, he says.
Houseplants do not demand a lot of attention and time. The right amount of sunlight and water suffices to maintain and nurture them. Tara makes sure she waters the plants before she leaves for the office every day, and on returning home, she prioritizes ‘chatting’ with the plants. Roshni has dedicated a window in her room to the plants to get enough sunlight and rain. Sameer too follows suit. He even tutors friends and family on social media on how to become a plant parent and contribute to a sustainable environment.
“I learned everything I had to about houseplants from the internet. There are so many Instagram reels about the kinds of plants you can get, how to maintain them, and their benefits and uses. I am just sharing the knowledge”, he says.
Sameer is extremely grateful to his sister for sending the jade plant. “Had it not been for her and the houseplants she sent me, I would have gone down into a deep hole of depression. Times were tough, but caring for these little beings was therapeutic. It made me feel needed and validated. When I looked at the different shades of green plants in my house, I used to feel fresh. Gradually, I noticed that I cannot force myself to think negatively or recall my past when I’m around these plants. They indeed are my babies”, he states.
Most plant parents avoid getting flower plants as they require a lot of maintenance. Moreover, houseplants, like the ones Tara has, are known for their healing characteristics. Studies show that they boost serotonin and dopamine levels – the brain chemicals associated with positivity and happiness.
Payal Wadia, a counsellor, has decorated her office with plants for the same reason. She says, “This office is where my clients come and talk about the things that disturb or hurt them. It is an extremely sensitive environment here, but the plants in my office help the patients relax and feel at home. In psychology, the colour green is said to have stress-relieving, healing and positivity-inducing properties. Moreover, I spray the plants with organic and homemade lemon and sandalwood oil. While lemon is a natural mood lifter, sandalwood helps with anxiety. Many in the field of counselling have started implementing plant therapy. Clients can do it at home too for some DIY relaxation.” Wadia also sometimes asks her clients to adopt a low-maintenance plant to help them with their counselling and therapy.
Afreen bought a few potted plants to add some aesthetic vibe to her bedroom. She had already put up the yellow fairy lights to make her room feel warm and cozy. “The warm yellow of the lights mixes well with the cool green of the plants. It gives a homely, safe, serene vibe”, she says.
The website that Afreen purchased these plants from gave information on how to maintain these plants, what kind of temperature and environment works for them, and so on. “It was quite easy to understand the information for each plant. They are very low maintenance, plus they are cheap. I bought the cheapest snake plant for Rs 70 – with the pot!”, she says. For the plants that didn’t come with pots, she used plastic containers and jars from take-out meal packages, painted them with vibrant colours, poured in some soil and planted the seeds or saplings.
“Now, I’m excited to bring more plants into my home and life. I used to smoke cigarettes on my balcony, but have stopped smoking in my house completely because I do not want to hurt the plants whatsoever. There’s already too much pollution in this city. The plants have changed my lifestyle and have left a positive impact on my mental well-being”, she says concludingly.
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