When quarantine first started, I needed something that would keep me busy and also help me get out of bed. As much as I wanted that “something” to be a cute cat, it wasn’t the right time for one. But thankfully, my mom had another good option. My mom has always had a few houseplants around the house, but as quarantine started, so did her obsession with getting more plants. Before March 2020, she had 4 plants, and now she has 52 grown plants and 13 that she is trying to propagate. So, if those turn out well, she’ll have 65 plants… can I get a “obsessed plant mom” in the chat? She managed to get my dad, who by all means was not a “plant dad” before quarantine, to become a plant fanatic too. First, he would just buy plants for mom when he saw them, and now he buys them for himself. He only has 6, because he needs more hardy plants that won’t die as easy. He now has a huge terrarium project he plans on building, in which he wants to add a waterfall and potentially some frogs (which would make it a vivarium).
When I started with plants, I had gotten 4, and had those for a couple months. Then I noticed anytime I was having a good day, or a bad day, I would find myself at Lowes buying one or more plants and then repotting them with my mom. My roommate even got me a few for Christmas. Eventually, I had to build a stand because I now have 25 plants and 9 propagating ones, so potentially 34 plants. What I’m trying to say is, I now have no space in my college apartment room and I’m totally fine with that.
I’ve had many trials and errors with all sorts of plants over the last almost year, but I’ve found four that have been absolutely amazing, are easy to care for, and are fun to stare at.
One of my first “bigger” plants is a ZZ Plant. AKA a Zanzibar Gem (Louisville friends know what I’m getting at) or Zamioculcas zamiifolia. They grow slowly, which is nice for when you’re starting out in a smaller room but plan on moving to a bigger location in a year or two. They don’t need to be watered as frequently (a couple times a month should do the trick). They store water in thick rhizomes, the base of the plant that you put in the soil, so you’d be okay forgetting a watering or two. They also prefer medium-low light, so they don’t need to be directly by a window! The catch is, they can be irritating on the skin if handled too much and dangerous to pets. So, wash your hands after you mess with them and keep them out of reach of your cute fur babies and you’ll do just fine!
Baby Rubber Plant
My Baby Rubber Plant (Peperomia obtusifolia) was my first plant ever, and it is thankfully still with me today! These are also really easy to care for. They can grow a few inches tall every year in the right conditions, but you can prune them (trim) to keep them at a height you like! They prefer bright indirect light (like sunlight coming through a sheer curtain). As far as watering, once the first couple of inches feels dry, you can water it. They store water in their leaves, so as long as the soil is moist, they’ll be fine! They are also pet-safe plants! Granted, you don’t want your pets in them anyways, but it will be safe if they do!
I’ve had my Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum) for a few months now. I got it at Lowe’s when I saw it was extremely over-watered and all of the stems and leaves were bent and lying flat, most likely because something had been sitting on it for a while. I wanted to save it, and it’s now standing up-right on its own and even has a whole new stem growing! They do well in medium to low light or also indirect sunlight (sheer curtains). They like humidity, so if you don’t have a humidifier, misting the leaves every now and then works too! Like the Baby Rubber Plant, let the top couple-few inches dry out before watering again! These are poisonous to pets, so keep it out of reach, maybe a taller shelf.
I got my Money Tree (Pachira aquatica) a couple weeks ago at Sam’s Club and am absolutely loving it. These are very low-maintenance and are also pet-friendly! These can grow very big, up to 8-feet actually, but do start out like a small little desk tree. But be prepared to repot these into larger pots every year, every other year, or simply as needed. Right now, mine is relatively small, but I can’t wait for it to be my big child. These plants love humidity. If you don’t have a humidifier, I would make a humidity tray. You basically grab a little plastic plate bigger than the size of your pot and fill it with rocks or pebbles (I use aquarium pebbles) and fill that with water, then set the pot on top of it. That’s what I have now, until I set up my humidifier, and it looks pretty cute. It brings out the nature aspect of having houseplants, which I love. They also like bright indirect sunlight (sheer curtain). As far as watering, they like to have the first few inches dry before they get their next water.
If my amazing (that was definitely sarcastic) guide to these plants got you interested in getting some, definitely do some research on the type of soil they like and any other needs they might have. I promise you, you won’t regret it!