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BEGINNERS GUIDE TO HOUSEPLANTS

  1. Why keeping houseplants may be a great reliever for HCW

  2. House Plant Basics

  3. How to Pick the Right Plant for Your Space

  4. Choosing your Plant

  5. My Favorite Beginner Friendly Plants

  6. Where to Get Plants

  7. Concepts that Will Ensure House Plant Success

  8. Take-Home Points

  9. More Resources + Recommended plant products




As a healthcare professional, I do have a penchant for keeping things alive. For the most part, I do great with people and pets, but when it came to plants I was a 007 with a license to kill.



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How does a person with multiple advanced clinical degrees in keeping people alive, consistently kill plants?


It was a head-scratcher for sure.


But because I do love nature and wanted to bring some of that into my home, I set out to understand plants.

It has since become a pretty cool, stress-relieving hobby that brings me daily joy.


The first thing I did was get this book, and it completely changed my understanding of plants.


What I came to realize, is that the number 1 thing you can do to take great care of plants is not to stick to a rigid watering schedule as the internet may suggest. Instead, it is to simply observe them with the goal of understanding their needs.

Like an intubated patient in an ICU, we can become observers of our plant patients for changes in status as well as provide nutritional and environmental support for optimal health.


Plants are the same.


Just like pets or pediatric patients, plants do not talk, at least not in the traditional sense. But what I found what that a good history and physical exam tells me everything I need to know to give great care.


House Plant Basics



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You already know that plants need sun, soil, and water to survive. You have probably already heard of the wonderful health benefits of having houseplants such as better air quality, lower stress, more beauty & even improving depression anxiety & high blood pressure.



What matters most when you choose your plants is that like choosing a pet to bring home, you just have to choose a plant that matches your level of dedication, experience & the conditions of your home.


So if you’re a new pet owner, it’s probably not a great idea for you to get an ocelot as your first pet, right?


Similarly, opting to start with very needy plants like most carnivorous plants, i.e a venus fly trap that needs distilled water, a humidity chamber & for you to feed it flies, is a recipe for failure.


So let me teach you how to pick the right plant for you.


How to Pick the Right Plant for you


First, figure out what kind of plants can easily thrive in your home environment.

No, I’m not going to suggest you go get a science kit and measure the light, humidity in your home.


There are apps for that!


I use the Planta app. I have no affiliation with them except I am a devoted user because it really helped me understand plants.


This app will help you measure the light conditions in your home & your level of commitment & will make plant suggestions based on what will thrive in your space.


You can use the app’s light meter to measure light quality in whichever room you want the plant to go in, but I suggest doing it in different places by windows because sometimes the place you want the plant in at your house may not necessarily be the place that will be best for the plant.


Other cool features of the Planta app I enjoy is that it also


✔Identifies plants pretty accurately with your phone camera

✔Reminds you when to water & fertilize

✔Has this thing called Dr. Planta that will help you troubleshoot problems & learn to diagnose certain conditions and diseases. If that doesn’t work you can reach out to them via email and they will literally walk you through anything.


Choosing your Plant


Once you measure the light in your home with the app- it will spit out suggestions for you.


If you’re a beginner, I would start with super low-maintenance plants that fit your level of dedication, experience, and condition as suggested by the app.


If you have pets or kids that may eat the plants it’s very important you choose non-toxic plants or make certain to keep them out of reach. The app will also tell you if the plants are toxic or non-toxic on some, but you can always do a google search too to be certain.


Make sure you love the look and feel of the plant & that it sparks joy in you before deciding to bring it home.


Plants I Recommend for Beginners


Everyone will who recommends plants for beginners will mention snake plants, succulents, and cacti, but I want to give you some out-of-the-box options that I think are even better for beginners than those listed above.


The reason I think the following suggestions are better for beginners than hardy snakes, succulents, and cacti- is because they are more interactive plants that will engage you a lot more, & help you understand how to care for them better. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are more high maintenance.


But I believe it will be more fun for you to see a plant respond to you in a relatively short amount of time with easy, proper care. It's super rewarding!


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Snakes, cacti, and succulents are nice, but they tend to be more stoic plants, at least for me took a bit longer to get to know well and they are more long-game type plants instead of the more instant gratification type plants I’m about to give you.


Watching houseplants move, grow & change over time is such s great stress reliever and joy sparker! Honestly, they're like little friendly aliens that live with you!


Below is my list of easy, unique & beginner-friendly plants.



Peace Lillies



I’m a huge fan of peace Lillies as starter plants not only because they have gorgeous dark, green leaves that make any decor pop, but also, they talk! Kind of. They talk in the way they let you know when they need water because they will droop.


They’re kinda drama queens because they will literally faint when they're thirsty. Ideally, you won't want to wait until they wilt or leave them wilted for too long because this distresses the plant, but it's ok to let it speak to you as you get to know it.


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It’s a great plant to get to start to really become attuned to perceiving and understanding the needs of plants.



Pothos



These trailing plants are fan favorites because they’re really beautiful and they are well-behaved. I can always count on my pothos to be thriving no matter what the other plants are going through.


The best part about them is their gorgeous color variations. They come in a vast variety of solid & mixed colors & are pretty inexpensive. In fact, in Florida, they grow so easily in the wild that they are referred to as Devil's Ivy ( though they are not in the ivy family), because of their persistence to grow in almost every environment.


I have seen these grow in a windowless room at a hospital- which shocked the crap out of me. I definitely would not recommend any plant, no matter how low light it is advertised as, be without light.



ZZ Plants


ZZ stands for Zamioculcas Zamiifolia, this plants scientific name. These hardy plants are very resilient and beautiful. They only require watering about once a month or so, & they’re just grateful little plants that will be happy with you with minimal attention. They come in green and dark brown/black. I'm particular to the dark one, also known as the Raven ZZ with darker leaves because it looks expensive and rare (it's not), & I love the moody vibe it gives my space.


Ferns