This is an essay on why having a houseplant is enjoyable and beneficial to one's health.
September 21, 2018
Imagine a luscious, serene garden. A small path guides you past green leaves and outreaching branches, some of which are heavy with glistening and colorful fruit. You reach out and pluck a firm, pink apple and after surveying the surface for bruises and finding none, you take a bite. A large chunk breaks off into you mouth with a satisfying crunch and cool, sweet-tart juices leak from the crisp flesh. As you savor your treat, you take a deep breath, and the air smells fresh, like the promise of rain. Hanging ivy gently caresses your shoulders as you push past it to explore the garden further. It's no surprise that this calming, botanical scene has the power to make most people smile. The sight, smell or even thought of plants brings people satisfaction and I believe that owning and caring for plants helps to increase peoples' mood and self-worth.
Since you started reading this essay, you may already be thinking of a fond memory including plants--playing with fall leaves, perhaps, or the trials of caring for your houseplant. When I proposed my essay idea about plants to my class, pleasant chatter quickly spread like an ivy throughout the room as my classmates began telling their own plant stories. I didn't even need to prompt them to do so; the simple mention of plants was enough to spark their happy memories. I recounted the recent memory of getting new plants to go in my dorm room. I was so excited when they arrived in the mail. I peeled back the industrial cardboard to reveal the soft green leaves, unfurling as I lifted the plants from their encasement. They were wilted just slightly as if jet-lagged, but still managed to glisten as the light streaming through my blinds hit their delicate fronds. Others talked about their favorite tree from their childhood home or the houseplants they weren't able to bring with them to college. If just the thought of plants can conjure such fondness, then imagine what can happen if one is surrounded by plants regularly. Seeing bright green leaves every morning when I wake up always brings a grin to my face. There is a certain presence that all living things emanate, even plants, that makes me feel like I have some company, a few leafy companions to greet me when I come home. I'm not the only person with an affinity for plants. Why else would so many homes and yards be covered in foliage, or famous paintings feature trees and flowers? I can't think of a single yard I've been in that didn't have some form of plants, whether it be grass, trees, or a vegetable garden. However, I can think of countless paintings that feature plants such as The Birth of Venus, and almost any piece by Frida Kahlo or Claude Monet. People seem to have an attraction to the intricate petals of flowers and the gentle, organic nature of leaves. The simple answer as to why we love plants is that humans innately find plants, and nature at large, to be calming and aesthetically pleasing. When I used to go camping as a child I would always want to pick a spot with the most foliage. The thicker the canopy the better, and the greenest, most diverse underbrush was preferred. This makes sense because plentiful healthy plants indicate good places for animals, including ourselves, to live. An abundance of foliage suggests that there is sufficient water, fruits, vegetables, and prey animals. How can people not seek out plants when it's been ingrained in our nature to need them for food, water, and shelter?
The other aspect that goes along with owning a plant is taking care of a dependent entity. Feeling like a plant needs you is a great way to increase self-worth. In this way, plants are almost like a child. Both plants and children cannot fend for themselves and therefore require a caretaker. Gratification comes to that caretaker when they see their plant or child growing and prospering. When one's child does well it makes their parents incredibly happy, the same way it makes someone happy to see their plant doing well. This is because the caretaker knows that the child or plant is doing well because of their efforts in raising them. People naturally like to see that their hard work is not in vain and that their end goal came to fruition.
It can be argued that the hard work of taking care of a plant isn't worth it or that the extra stress is unneeded, but I find that it is this responsibility to be productive that makes having a plant so beneficial. It may not always feel like it, but most people need and want responsibilities. Responsibilities make people feel needed as well as productive by giving them small daily or weekly goals to achieve. Without goals, people can easily settle into complacency, or worse, lose sight of what it is they want in life. One should probably have bigger goals in life then just watering a plant, but this a good place to start and easily accomplished goals can help people feel successful and motivated to do more. My goal is always to water my plants everyday which helps me feel successful just knowing that, if nothing else, I at least helped a plant stay alive today. It brings me great joy to gently mist my little plants and know that they are alive and beautiful because of me.
The natural beauty and alluring qualities of plants, as well as the value of taking care of them, makes owning a plant beneficial to peoples' emotional health. Owning a plant promotes productivity by providing responsibility and fosters contentment by serving as a beacon of natural beauty in a man-made environment.