I’m a plant parent and you should be too!

By Anna Strathman

Everyone who knows me by now, knows I love plants. I’m the go-to person if my friends and family have a plant question.

Need to know why your succulent isn’t doing well? I can take a look at it for you. Need to know what a good plant for having clean air in a college dorm room is? Easy, it’s a peace lily.

In my humble opinion, plants are one of the greatest creatures on earth. There’s such a diverse range of them and each individual plant has its own character. I find plants to be very delightful, and it shocked me that people don’t appreciate them more, or bring them into the home as part of the family.

Here are a few key reasons (some of which are scientific) why plants are amazing little specimens and why people should be appreciating them more than they are:

People tend to forget that plants are living things. I see this most in stores like Target, Whole Foods and Home Depot where their indoor plant selections are not being cared for like they should be. I think the reason for this forgetfulness is that plants don’t act like humans expect living things to. We expect most living things to make some kind of noise or draw attention to themselves, and plants don’t do that.

However, plants do have other attributes of life though, like moving, needing food and breathing. You can see plants move very slowly, when they are adjusting themselves to be closer to the sunlight. They need that sunlight to breakdown the waters and chemicals they absorb to make their own food. It’s an internal process that most autotrophs have that humans can’t see with the naked eye.

Seeing plants breath is also very hard. You can see it though when they are under water. When you put an old plant stem under water, the plant will start to grow and form new stems under the water. When you look at these new stems you can see little bubbles start to surround the plant and come up to the surface. When I saw this, it took me a minute to realize, “Oh! It’s breathing.”

With the knowledge that plants are living things that work as hard as you do to survive, watching them grow and thrive can be very satisfying. Watching a plant grow its first flower in your care, or helping a plant you rescued come back from the brink of death can be very rewarding and fill you with a sense of pride. This care gives you a sense of accomplishment. It’s like watching your kids as they grow up over the years, and having a “hey! I helped with that!” moment as they go off to college.

If you can take care of a plant, they can help you just as much as you help them. This may sound silly, but it’s actually true. Through photosynthesis plants breath in carbon dioxide (something that’s bad for humans) and breath out oxygen. Fresh oxygen can help us think better and keep our brains working.

Plants can also absorb other toxic chemicals in the air that we may breathe in, since they break down those harmful chemicals and use them to make food. Pretty cool, right? My mother is also of the opinion that caring for plants is therapeutic, but that might be her rationalizing my large collection.

I think the main reason that people say they don’t want to keep plants is because most people don’t want the responsibility of taking care of a plant. It seems like a lot of work, especially when you have to remember to take care of yourself too and having a small green thing on your window leeching away your time may not be the first thing on your list.

However, plants are only really hard to care of when there’s a lot of them and you only need one plant, not 56. They mostly take care of themselves, just give them water once a week and light and they take over from there.

I hope that you come to appreciate plants a bit more, and if you do start taking a liking to plants and are worried that you’ll start hoarding plants in your home, don’t be.

Out of everyone in my family I’m the only Crazy Plant Lady. So, there’s only a 0.04% chance that you will turn out like me. Did I do that math just for this essay? Yes, yes I did.

Anna Strathman is a junior at Como Park Senior High School and wrote this essay for her CIS Writing Studio class.

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