Buying plants are a catch-22. They are beautiful and can be used to hide wiring in your home discreetly. They have tons of health benefits, like giving off oxygen, which is hella important while being cooped up in your apartment. They also create a lot of gnats if you over water them. But most importantly, plants saved my life.
Quarantine has been brutal. One thing that I have been struggling with throughout this time of solitude is feeling peace. I wake up and immediately feel a sense of dread. I can’t wear makeup as I used to, which was one of my favorite ways to express myself. I wasn’t working much, which made it hard to “treat myself” without feeling guilty for not saving my coins for the unknown.
I was desperate for relief. Things I enjoyed become a task and tasks were no longer a concern for me. I spent hours on my phone ( according to my iPhone, I spent 8 hours and 40 minutes every day), looking at nothing particular but actively muting topics that read Tr*mp, protest, shooting, police, and riots.
Before quarantine started, I had bought my first plant. I had observed its stretched-out limbs at Pete’s Market one day while looking for a particular bread. I didn’t find the bread, but this palm, I thought to myself, I could keep this alive, right? I constructively placed it in my 2005 Mazda hatchback carefully drove over some of Chicago’s most infamous potholes.
After carrying the 4-foot palm up three flights of stairs, I felt accomplished, like it was a brand new start for me. I was turning 26 in a month or so; my Pattern app was assuring me of new expansions in my career, and home was ahead, and for once, the state of the country wasn’t weighing on my being. It felt cathartic.
Unfortunately, as Coranovirus migrated its way into our lives, it became harder to feel like ourselves. Some people have embraced their newfound glory in living room workspaces and dining table work meetings. For others, the idea of being caged in our homes made us feel less like birds and more like prisoners of the state. For someone like me, who battles with mental health, it was hard for my working hands to lay idle on a cellphone screen.
Two months into Covid-19, my palm started to replicate my depressive mannerisms. Faded color in base, legs, and arms. Not eating much but occasionally enjoyed a little water. Brown dots appeared on both of our beings. Mine turned out to be freckles, but for my palm, she was not as lucky. This encouraged me to skip the trial-and-error and move to a more reliable source, Google.
With a couple of clicks here and there, it pointed me in the direction of spider mites. Spider mites create these webs between the plants’ leaves and bases. The spiders then begin to suck the nutrients out of the plant, leaving it dormant and eventually to die.
Spider mites are highly contagious because just a little wind or a brush of another plant could allow the spiders to travel to other plants. I threw my phone across the room once I noticed that not only did the palm have mites, but so did three different plants that sat nearby.
It was time to take action. I did more research trying to find the most natural way to get rid of spider mites. I found some remedies and decided to repot the infected plants, just in case. I had never repotted a plant before, so this took me on another search.
After some youtube videos and two glasses of red wine, I was ready. I spent an hour making space for them in new pots, checking roots that had started escaping their old homes, ready to latch onto newness.
After a week or so, both my palm and I started to look healthier. The color in our skin was poppin’ off in my sunlight drenched apartment. We both made a promise to try and eat better because let’s face it; we needed each other.
Learning to take care of something else produced a newfound purpose in my life. Taking care of plants and humans is more than just hydration. It requires repotting, the right amount of sunlight, close observation, conversation, exercise, food, a good wipe down, and love.
Little by little, week after week, month after month, I noticed my plants started to mirror me. When I began achieving goals and manifesting the life I wanted to live, my plants would begin to grow new limbs or flowers. When I took care of myself, my plants perked up and joined me in the jubilation of life. Instead of feeling dread when I wake up, I’m excited to observe new signs of life (mine and theirs).
Now I am a plant mama to thirty plants (yes boo, thirty). Plants that need extra love and some that prefer when I don’t notice their existence. I have some plants that will stay one foot for the next three years, while others could be the size of a small tree by then! I am growing into myself, creating roots in my new home, and my plants follow suit.
Plants saved my life and probably could save yours too if you let them.
One Last Thing
Looking to start your plant journey or maybe want to add to your already growing collection? Check out A’vents by August. Founded in 2009 by Alicia August-Wright, the A’vent by August Studio is known for their creative floral styling and event design. Every Wednesday they host #WellnessWednesday, showcasing plants, floral arrangement, home goods, teas, and overall wellness! Stop by their location and say hi!
About Victoria Sockwell:
Victoria Sockwell is a multi-hyphenated creative, writer, and bibliophile based in Chicago's South Side. Born and raised in the Midwest, she's always down to vibe, drink water, and talk shit about the weather.