Positive Plant Parenting

By Eve Wee-Ang 2021-04-07 12:14:56

When you first step foot into my house, you will be forgiven for thinking I have green fingers. That’s because in nearly every corner in our rented 400 sqm home sprouts a pot of plants. Trees as tall as the ceiling tower overhead, branches of leaves proudly splay, tendrils of leaves crawl on the walls, and baby plant pots dot the window ledges. Our home resembles an urban jungle, despite their plant parent- me, having no green fingers to boast of. If like me, you love to have greens in your home but are worried about murdering them, here are my tips. 


Nothing lasts forever, as with everything in life. 

I am not referring to the majestic Jomon Sugi, the oldest cedar tree in Yakushima, Japan that UNESCO estimates to be more than 2,000 years old. I am referring to the domesticated potted plants we bring into our homes. Unlike plants that are grown in the wilderness, the plants we buy from the nursery are not meant to withstand harsh conditions or negligence from over and under watering. By accepting their transient lifespan, we give ourselves grace and learn to appreciate their time with us. As my practical mother used to quip, if everything lasts forever, then shop owners will have no business! 



Decorating with plants always wins

As a tidying consultant, I am often asked for home décor tips after clients remove the clutter in their homes and are left with empty spaces. I admit my expertise is editing, not decorating, but I always suggest a pot of plants. Here’s why: 

1. Compared to air filters, plants are cheap and clean the air naturally. 

2. Our eyes are always on some sort of digital screen. An occasional glance at your plants provides a soothing respite. 

3. Plants compliment all décor by adding warmth and cosiness. It’s no wonder the Danes, who popularised “hygge” (Danish for cosiness), advise bringing nature indoors for an extra serving of hygge. 


Parent your plants intuitively

When I first started welcoming plants into my home, I killed them all. Determined to find the root cause, I began asking and taking notes from sellers. When to water, which ones are the sun tanners, when to sprinkle fertiliser? I listened and followed to a T but still, they repeatedly perished in my hands. Frustrated, one day I decided to throw away the manual. My intuition told me I was too busy listening to other’s opinions on how they parent their plants instead of pausing and observing my own plants - a life lesson. Here’s what my plants taught me. 

1. All plants love the sun. Outdoor plants are avid sun tanners while indoor plants perk up when sun shines on them through the windows. This was a revelation for me as I used to think indoor plants are perfectly happy in the dark. 

2. Plants don’t need to drink every day. In my determination to keep my plants alive, I used to water them daily till their roots rotted. In fact, the number one cause of plant murder is overwatering. Observe your plants. If the leaves are wilting or growth is stunted, it probably had too much to drink. 

3. Touch and talk to your plants. Hear me out. Before going for a long trip, I touch all my plants and tell them I will be away for a while but I will return. I started this tradition when I was worried my plants would die during my long absence. Since plants are living things, I reckon they might respond to me. The Royal Horticultural Society agree. One study recorded that talking to your plants helps them grow faster. Possibly something to do with the vibrations. So far, all my indoor plants survive my vacations. 



Start with the hardiest plants

Not all plants are made equal. Some plants are hardier than others, while some require tender loving care. If you are a new plant parent, start with the hardy plants first. The easiest way is to ask your seller for recommendations. Here are my favourites: 

Aloe Vera 

When my kids were little and they get a cut, I would go to my aloe vera plant, slit it open and apply the cool sap directly to their wound. Even now they see aloe vera as a magic salve. Useful and easy to grow, it’s perfect for families with young children. 

Money Plant (Pothos) 

Round and shaped like coins, hence the name, money plants are one of the easiest houseplants not to kill as they just keep on growing. These trailing plants are not only beautiful to look at but most impressively are champion air cleaners that take in the bad and release the good. 

Spider Plant 

Just the name renders curiosity in any child. Most amazingly, little baby spider plants known as spiderettes will outgrow from the mother plant as they branch out to form little families that live happily together under one roof. Completely safe and non-toxic, spider plants are commonly used in hospitals and by families with pets. 


Where to buy plants in Shanghai 


• Hongqiao Flower Market, 599 Jinhui Road 

• Lanling Flower and Bird Market, 1539 Lingshi Road

• Ikea, 1728 West Nanjing Road


• Shuangji Floriculture, 620 Pujian Road

• Longda Flower Market, 618 Huazhou Road 

• Ikea, 550 Linyu Road