A common thread I have picked up on during this 2020 pandemic, is how much of a negative impact isolation can really be on a person. We are not meant to be alone, we are connective beings. Long periods of isolation can lead to depression, anxiety, and overall unhappiness. Hearing what everyone has been going through reminds me, honesty, of the past couple years of my life. With my husbands job also came relocation. Moving to a new country, away from all my family and friends, sleep deprived from a cluster feeding newborn, a confused and uprooted toddler, sharing one vehicle for almost a year kept the children and I cooped up inside, 9 months of snowfall, gaining almost double my original body weight from comfort eating and having two babies back to back, and full transparency, a rocky time in my marriage, I was drowning. I was isolated. It was a recipe for depression and anxiety. Looking back at that time, I feel beyond grateful to be so far mentally from that state. But I also wondered how could I help someone else who may be struggling with a life situation.
During that darker time in my life, I had to do some serious soul searching. Not only for myself, but for my two young daughters and the man I fell in love with. I started to really look into what brings joy into my life. Where could I channel my focus that would nurture my heart and excite my soul. When I thought back to happier times, stress free times, brighter days, what was I surrounded by? Plants were in the top section of that list. I fell in love with how they reminded me of human personalities. A tangible reminder of what love, nurturing, and care can do to a living thing. And here, I happily became a self proclaimed “crazy plant lady” with currently over 20 living beautiful plants in our home. By humanizing my beauties, I was able to not only see a distinct personality in each plant, but learn how truly resilient they can be regardless of their environment.
Take Snake Plants for example . Pretty low maintenance, they really don’t need much. Forget to water your plant? No problem, they are drought resistant. These plants are strong, powerful, and highly adaptable. Bright light is preferable, but can also survive in dim light. An introvert at heart, the less attention people give it, the better. But anyone who knows snake plants well, knows how creative and strong they really are.
The Monstera, native to the rainforest, grows like its name, a beautiful monster! Easygoing houseplants with grand iconic leaves. These plants can grow up to 60 feet along trees and nearby plants, if given the right support. Belonging to the “climbing vines” family, meaning they will always work their way upwards under the right conditions. Their leaves are said to have developed large holes to adapt to the environment they come from, allowing the heavy and constant rainfall to filter through the leaves without breaking and damaging them in the process. True over-comers and adaptable survivors.
Now we have the chillest houseplant you will meet, the ZZ plant. Very low maintenance, strong willed, uplifting, this drought resistance plant is a silent hero. With eye catching glossy green oval leaves, it can brighten any room. Slow and steady in growth, a quiet and sturdy one that requires little light, little water, and zero fuss. This forgiving plant can take a good amount of neglect without much adverse effects. Comes home initially upright and tight, but with age, spreads out and relaxes its branches. ZZ plants will propagate quicker when grown together. ZZ seems shy and quiet, but once at home, opens up and becomes your chillest, vibe loving friend who is loyal, steady, and true.
On to the Fiddle Leaf Fig (FLF), the Diva Queen of plants and main character to this story. Any plant lover will tell you how amazingly gorgeous they are, but honey, if you breath on you FLF wrong a leaf will drop. These plants are finicky AF! They don’t like their soil too wet, soil too dry, too much sun, not enough sun, and they hate country music! Ok, kidding about the last part but you get the picture, they require a lot of love and attention. Don’t get me started on the high maintenance of constant misting and wiping down of the large violin shaped leaves. Yet, FLF are one of the most sought after indoor plants/trees for their architectural statement , lush green foliage, and amazing ability to outgrow your house in height. Your high maintenance friend who requires a bit of work but will have your back for life and brightens up any room they walk into.
Back to how resilient plants can be regardless of their environment, I had a beautiful bushel of three FLF’s in one giant planter. Pruning will determine if you have a “tree-like” or “Bushel” FLF. My bushel was quickly outgrowing its pot and the roots were climbing up out of its planter. As roots take over the space of the container, little room is left for the soil and may lead to root death. Allowing your plant to grow “root bound” and not re-potting to a larger container will stunt the plants growth and can lead to the plants overall demise. (Starting to understand the correlation between plants and humans?) This shit can get deep.
So as a new “plant mom” I had the best intentions for my beautiful FLF. I thought, well I will just re-pot them into 3 separate containers and boom now I have three new “tree” plants instead of one. I gently and carefully re-potted all three. A week later, despite my efforts and care, all three of my FLF’s had turned brown, became dry AF, and died. I was devastated. So I cut down the stems and discard the dead plants. To this day im not quite sure if it was due to roots being overexposed to the elements while re-potting, or simply because they were meant to grow together in a bushel and couldn’t bear to be separated. I took the original pot and left it outside in our backyard until I knew what to do with it, and which new plant I would fill it with.
One month later, my husband and I noticed new leaves poking out of the container in the backyard. I initially thought it was a weed. I had not watered this plant in months. Paid zero attention to it. Left it out in the cold days and nights, thinking it was nothing but a pot of soil. Now full transparency, I did say I was a self proclaimed plant lady, so I do belong to a wonderfully delightful plant group from Canada. I snapped a photo of this “weed” and from my husbands encouragement, did a double check to verify it was truly a weed before discarding the soil and starting fresh with a new plant. Guess what the overall response was given back to me. A BABY FIDDLE LEAF FIG!! Have you heard about the rose that grew out of concrete? Well this was the Fiddle Leaf Fig mistaken for a weed. I was shook!
Going even deeper, how fitting the way this story again reminds me of the relationship between nature and humans. How truly resilient we are. It does not matter where you came from, how you were raised, or what your past looked like. Maybe your family just didn’t have a green thumb, maybe they didn’t have a “plant group” or “what to expect when expecting” book to guide them. Some of us were thrown away. Some of us were mistaken for weeds. When I was living in Canada, I felt like a Bright Red Rose plucked from her giant rose garden and left alone in a dark and empty basement. I had lost my roots and rich soil, wilting away petal by petal, unaware when I would see sunlight again. Are you a Rose who grew out of the concrete? Are you a Fiddle Leaf Fig who was mistaken for a weed? Have you ever been tossed aside for something fresh and new? Did your toxic relationship forget to water you for weeks on end? Did some life choices lead you to a dark dim room with no light in sight? None of that can define you. You can always push up and out of your dry dark soil into the new morning sunshine. Transforming into the person you know you are inside. Some of the most important, successful individuals come from the darkest of beginnings. Every single day when God wakes you up, you are given a fresh start, a new beginning to your new life. How will you plant your feet into the ground and take root? How will your branches reach across the sky and grab hold of what is truly meant for you? Water yourself, get out of the shade of your past into the bright warm sun, stretch your roots and branches and starting growing your own garden. Nourish your seedlings and begin to reap what you want to sow.