The Lovely Effects of Growing Plants

My wife and I have been collecting plants since August last year. It all started with a small dracaena compacta plant followed by purchasing a tall yucca, a small cactus and an echeveria succulent. All of them were either on sale or we got them thru a voucher. We were completely stoked because it was our first time to live together – not in my parent’s house nor in a shared apartment. To put in another way, the excitement of living together as a married couple skyrocketed to a zenith power because we finally have privacy and independence to do what we want in our own place. It’s such a treat to see my wife’s eyes light up when she shares her plans on how she would decorate our home. She’s obviously happy expressing her creativity thru little crafts and whatnots especially when it comes to styling a room using her favourite plants or choosing the colour and design of the pots. Today, we have 50 plants in our small one bedroom flat and as our plants continued to grow over that last year, we are starting to believe that our brown thumbs are becoming green. Of course, some of our plants died (that’s inevitable for a newbie plant lover like us) but most of them thrived until now and it feels awesomely rewarding. Suffice to say, we are not plant experts but we are trying to educate ourselves as much as we can because these plants have been providing beautiful, healthy and transformative effect in our lives especially in our marriage. Frankly, my wife and I have been in too much stress for several reasons. One is our longing to have our own baby, then we have the covid-19 pandemic, the stress at work, the financial crisis of our own families, health issues and other stuff. Our indoor plants, on the other hand, helped us cope with our situation. It’s our non pharmacologic way of dealing with anxieties and the daily stress. Furthermore, my wife and I started to have more lovely time together since we shifted our mindset on taking care of plants, propagating them and telling ourselves that we are worthy and capable of nourishing precious living things. 

Taking care of plants is a good thing. And they say that if we focus on the good, the good will be better.

According to Dr. Katie Cooper, a psychologist and founder of Bloombox Club, “We unconsciously benefit from being around nature, but once we start paying attention to plant life, and nurturing specific plants over an extended period, these benefits accumulate. Some of these effects come from evolved responses, while others are due to changes in thought patterns.” I think Dr. Cooper is right. There is a significant therapeutic relationship between humans and plants. I have been noticing a lot of my family and friends sharing a lot of photos of their plants on social media. Maybe all of us want to commune with nature because of the extensive measures we do to halt the spread of the covid-19 pandemic. Spending time in the garden or having at least indoor plants give us a sense of serenity or, perhaps, peace of mind, which in turn eradicates our worries and fears of being infected or affected by the present global concern. Truly, I am happy to see that they are becoming plant lovers. The heightened awareness of the benefits and effects of plants whether it is for purifying the air in our own respective homes, lowering our cortisol or stress levels or improving our concentration and mental health has become rampant across the world.  Since this blog is about searching for meaning, inner peace, happiness and mental clarity, I tried to message a selected number of family and friends who are also starting to enjoy growing plants. I asked them the following questions: 

(1) Why do you love to collect plants?

(2) What do you think is the effect of plants to our mental health? 

(3) What is your favourite plant? Why? 

Like Dr. Cooper, I want to discover the lovely effect of plants to humans. I want to validate her advocacy with the people I actually know. To start with, I asked my mother to answer the questions because I grew up watching her and my father taking care of plants in our small garden in the Philippines.

Cynthia Rellora 

I love to collect plants because I am a lover of beauty. Every plant has its own characteristics that makes them different from each other. I have always admired plants whatever it looks like, whether its oddly shaped, has crazy patterns or has weird colours. Plants give me a sense of fulfilment especially when they flower. It makes me immensely happy.

On the other hand, plants have  great impact in our mental health. The time and attention you give in taking care of plants divert a person’s focus in a positive note and drifts us away from negativity and mental breakdown. 

I have no particular favourite plant but I love flowering plants. It helps me appreciate God’s creation. It also gives me a positive outlook every time I see flowers because they simply lighten my day. 

Instagram: @cynth0104

Angel Villafuerte 

I love collecting plants because it calms my mind. They encourage me to slow down and notice the little things in life. The personal benefits I gain from taking care of them is the time to meditate and realise things from a deeper perspective. Similar to humans, I noticed that my plant collection react differently depending on their environment. I think plants represent each one of us as a person. We all have different kinds of personalities. I guess growing plants made me appreciate and understand the beauty of being human. We should seek to understand one another and always consider that we all have different kinds of needs to be able to grow.  I think plants play a big role in our mental health because it enables us to slow things down. It’s as if we have our own peace and quiet time whenever we take care of our plants.It’s like an escape to the overwhelming world we have. As of now, I love seeing a lot of my Calathea and Pothos. I’m so fascinated with the pattern of their leaves.

Instagram: @angelmayv

Lalie Meliza Rosales Palma

Collecting plants has been addictive because apart from using it as decorative pieces, it also gives me a sense of peace. Being socially distanced due to the current pandemic was mentally and emotionally exhausting. Since then, I started buying plants and it kept me busy at home. Then, I started enjoying it because during the difficult times it sort of gave me a glimpse of hope in life as I watch them grow. Initially, I purchased Pothos, which constantly grew until now. What I mostly love about it is that it is low maintenance and has an air purifying quality.

instagram: @laliemelizapalma

Cheddy Barcenas 

I started with a single plant gifted by a friend and just by looking at it gave me so much joy and it makes me feel relaxed. Indoor plants doesn’t just look aesthetically pleasing but it also influences my mood and makes the environment calmer. It gave me something to take care of other than myself and keeping it alive is a challenge which I enjoy the most. I also noticed how much it affects the humidity in the house especially that I’m living in a very hot and dry country and having indoor plants help regulate the air quality a lot. Since then, I’ve acquired at least 15 additional plants in all different shapes and sizes. I can totally say that it’s therapeutic and way cheaper than a therapist.  Being a plant lover gives me a sense of satisfaction knowing that I have a living thing inside my house that I need to nurture, talk to, give water, food and give the right climate to survive to. Indeed, growing plants have lots of health benefits as it improves air quality, absorbs radiation and reduces humidity level. Being in the nursing profession, I’m at risk of being exposed to bugs and plants protect me by boosting my immune system. It has airborne chemicals that helps fight off the cold, flu, and sore throat by cleaning air toxins. And when I’m feeling low, it’s amazing how I get motivated to get up to channel my stress away by nurturing my plants. Just having them in the house improves our mental health. It makes me think of the outdoors or the countryside. Plants have an aura of peace around them. Rather than constantly feeling like I’m rushing around or being busy, I can always get the calming nature of the plants whenever I go home after work. We know that plants release oxygen into the air and take up the carbon dioxide. Thus, it makes our brain feel less fatigued, which in turn, prepares our body to get more sleep and release the right types of hormones to feel relaxed and mentally sound. There’s lots of research backing up the benefits of plants to patients with depression and anxiety and one of those is the scent that plants give off. When you get a good smell, you instantly feel relaxed, happy and positive. All my plants present different vibes to me, but my favourite would be my Calathea Makoyana. I’ve always wanted to have one and I knew it would brighten not just my room, but my mood as well. It is a type of plant that prefers indirect lighting, which makes it perfect for bedroom usage. They are generally easy to care for and they look great, offering bright green, wide leaves to liven up indoor spaces. It’s a low light plant that tend to grow fairly slowly and will not grow and spread out over their pots which becomes a problem– so it’s perfect if you’re a beginner when it comes to plants.

instagram: @cheddybear

Snap Bomabase Bas

My grandmother and my mom are plant lovers. I grew up in a garden full of plants and flowers. Growing up, I have always adored plants. I would even help my mom choose which plant to put indoors every week. No wonder, I know a lot of plants and flowers. This is one of the reasons why I love flower arrangements. They remind me of my grandmother who is already in heaven.   Plants give me serenity. They are my stress reliever. They remind me that life is still wonderful amidst the chaotic things that are happening in the world. They give me happiness which I can’t even explain. I always want to see my plants each time I wake up in the morning.  My favourite plants are Hydrangeas (Milflores) and Butterfly Orchids (though I don’t have them in my unit). They look classy and impeccably beautiful. I used to pick them in my grandmother’s garden. Each time I see a hydrangea or a butterfly orchid, it always reminds me of her. This coming December, I’m looking forward to buy these plants for my mom as a birthday gift but, of course, I’ll obviously buy one for myself. 

instagram: @itsme_snapb

Gail Cecilio – Rellora

My husband knew that I miss Icee, my beautiful dog back home. Since we can’t have any pets in the flat, he decided to buy me plants. it’s good that my husband thought of bringing plants in our house.  Since we had our very first plant, I loved it. I was delighted. It brought life in our space. We don’t feel lonely nor distressed. In fact, plants made our boho and industrial decor cohesive, which made our home ambience very cool and chill. It’s very zen and calming. It’s always a good time for my husband to read and watch movies and for me to do my crafts and organising stuff. Sometimes, we put on a soothing music, light a scented candle and have a cup of coffee and if the mood is right, both of us would talk and cuddle for hours whilst being surrounded by our plants.  Every time we buy a new plant, my husband and I would binge watch youtube videos on how to take care of that  specific plant. We both enjoy learning how to cultivate and propagate these plants in different ways may it be in a soil, water or gravel. But since we live in a tiny apartment, we are focusing on planting in containers and collecting indoor plants. My favourite plant is Monstera Deliciosa. It’s green heart- shaped leaves with cuts in between as it grows appeal to me. We killed the first one we had because of over watering. We learned from that mistake and today, we have a big and green swiss cheese plant! In fact, we have propagated another one and she looks like a queen. We are planning to share her to a worthy plant lover in the future. 

instagram: @happys0ul

MORE friends who are starting to love growing plants!

instagram: @onlyleahcandothat

instagram: @jc.escapades

instagram: @foreverpancakes @pancakeartss

How Lovely is the Silence of Growing Things

After reading and hearing all the answers of my friends and family, I noticed that they collect and grow plants for aesthetic purposes, for eradicating indoor and outdoor air pollution and for its serene and mind boosting qualities, which contributes in developing a healthy body as well as a harmonious, productive, tranquil and creative psyche – What a lovely effect to humans! In my case, I like to see plants grow because they are very silent. They are receptive to whatever good and bad they get daily from people or their surroundings without a single word or noise. Instead, they show you if they are happy or sad or if they are thirsty or drowning. 

Their Silence illuminates their shapes, sizes, textures, smell and colours. And it up to us to interpret the stories of each petals, the dancing leaves, intricate patterns, vibrant pigments and the aroma they release in the atmosphere. 

Additionally, their needs are very simple – earth, water, light and air. This teaches me simplicity and to be contented of what I have and be thankful for the blessings I receive daily from God. I realised that I am lucky because I have a roof over my head, a bed where I can rest on, food and water on my table and family to lean on. I have the basic things that makes life worthy and happy. Plants pretty much receives the same. Reflecting further on the effect of plants, I realised that we are indeed the apex of God’s creation. We are His crowning glory. He created plants to help us live peaceful and happy on earth. Therefore, it is our responsibility to take care of them because we benefit from them holistically not just because they look pretty. Lastly, I am in awe of the their Resilience. You think they are weak but we’ve been surrounded by them for thousands of years. They thrive and find a way to survive. As an example, a praying plant moves its leaves during day and night to receive the right amount of light and a growing plant moves its direction towards the sun. Despite any situation, they continue to propagate and serve their purpose – to nourish us and create beauty and balance in the world. 

“The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruits in which is their seed, each according to its own kind. And God saw that it was good.” – Genesis 1:12 “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” – Genesis 1:26