Parenting My Plants

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I’m one of the many, many people who jumped on the houseplant bandwagon during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t get on board sooner. My husband and I own a lawn and landscaping company, but we now have a clear division of plant labor. He handles the outside plants; I take care of the indoor ones.

Fast-forward two years, and I now have a collection of more than 30 varieties of houseplants, and my kitchen windowsill is filled with cuttings of those plants rooting in various containers of water.

My son is quoted as saying “We don’t have any pets, but we have plants!”

Our plant room *ahem* play room.

In the same way people joke about pets being good practice for having children (see my 2019 post “Six Parenting Truths We Learned From Our Dog”), plants can teach us a lot about how to properly care for babies, too. 

  1. Watch Those Roots. In the same way too many sweets will rot your kids’ teeth, too much water and improper drainage can cause “root rot” and kill the plant. I learned this lesson the hard way. For my plants; not my kids. Their teeth are great, thanks.
  2. Get Your Hands Dirty. How many times have we asked our toddlers “are you poopy?” and they are adamant in their response – “NO!” A likely story. With plants, the best way to tell if they need water is to stick your finger right into the soil. For babies, maybe just give them a sniff…although I’ve been known to risk a finger in a diaper only to immediately regret my decision and wash my hands into oblivion. Yuck.
  3. Haircuts Can Help. I finally convinced my son to get a haircut after battling to brush tangles out of his long, blonde locks for more than a year. Trimming and pruning your trailing houseplants can encourage new growth, and you can root the cuttings in water to make a whole new plant! Don’t keep the hair. That’s just weird.
  4. Don’t Repot Too Soon. A lot of plant newbies assume their houseplants need a bigger pot to grow into, but that’s often not the case. When a plant is repotted, it has to focus all its energy on the roots to establish itself in the new environment, so it actually doesn’t put effort into growing new leaves or branches for a while. It’s kind of like rear- and forward-facing car seats. You might think your child is uncomfortable with their legs bent in a rear-facing seat, but that’s often not the case. The determining factors should be your child’s weight/height and the car seat specifications. 
  5. Only Fertilize in Growing Season. When a plant is dormant, let it be dormant. Whatever you do, never wake a sleeping baby. 

I hope you enjoyed this planting and parenting parallel. Do you have houseplants? What are their names?

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