I’ve made the joke that my houseplant & garden hobby is “cheaper than therapy!”
Therapy, depending on your health insurance, can be quite pricey. I specifically used ‘pricey’ in lieu of ‘costly,’ because I found that NOT engaging in some form of therapy to maintain positive mental health was far more costly, in more ways than one. Shelling out money to talk with a professional has been worth every penny.
But, I digress...while a hobby certainly can provide therapeutic benefits, and actively engaging in hobbies is often suggested by therapists to help with one’s mental health, hobbies, plant-keeping, gardening and horticulture can drain your wallet, too.
Plant people raise your hands….If you’ve ever looked at the price of a Thai Constellation, you’d know that a cutting (!) can go for more than $100 in the US.
For the record, I do engage in talk therapy, and I cannot tell you how much it has helped me. But, gardening and plant keeping has opened windows for me that I wasn’t expecting. I gain so much from this hobby. It’s a challenge- learning about something new, trying to be successful, having the opportunity to learn from failures, and there are more rewards than I could probably count. For the sake of making this a business though, I’ll share some with you: I’m teaching my children about growing some of their own food, and how to appreciate and cultivate a love for nature, horticulture and being outside, it helps keep me busy and engaged during some dreary Midwestern weather during the winter and early spring, it makes me feel closer to my late mother & grandmother, it promotes sustainability and conservation, reducing our waste and negative impact on the environment, it’s aesthetically pleasing, and I can move some plants around to change the look of the space they’re occupying, it’s easy to connect with likeminded people via social media groups, I can take continuing education classes on certain subjects, or do my own research- for free on the internet or at my local library or nature center. There are so many more- you’ll enjoy finding your own.
Something I wasn’t prepared for is how addicting this hobby can be. For me, it’s not terribly surprising, as I am a recovering alcoholic. But I wasn’t expecting to see that behavior come back in relation to plants. I went from almost zero houseplants- just one Phalaenopsis I was desperately trying to keep alive, and my outdoor garden & plants to about 50 houseplants over the course of a few months. I couldn’t go a few days without sneaking into a garden center and coming home with at least one plant. I was sneaking them in through the garage because I didn’t want my husband to raise his eyebrows. (Turns out, he wouldn’t have and didn’t care, it was all me) We’d moved into a new house with a lot more space than our previous home, and we’d just put down my 17 year old dog. He had been in his final months in a room off the back of our house leading to the yard. When he was gone, I wanted to transform that space into something that made us all happy and not sad when we walked in there. I started with a few plants, and then an aquarium, and I don’t like to use the phrase “out of control,” one might say it walked that line.
I have a plant ICU in our bathroom (it’s a higher humidity area for my begonias and fussier plants)
I’ve chatted with countless people who also find their plants and this hobby to be therapeutic. Many have said it helps with their mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, and I would agree. Some use their plants’ health as a barometer for their own mental health, i.e., if their plants are happy and thriving, most likely they are also in a good state of mind and physical health, and conversely if the plants ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Unless, of course, you have crotons. In that case, ain't nobody happy. Like Ever. You live in a constant state of apology and fear.
You don’t have to take my word for it-read about this study on the benefits of indoor plants and relationships between people and technology
Or this is another good one about the presence of antidepressant microbes in soil!
I have found that taking care of my plants & garden helps immensely when I need to get out of my own headspace, and I love when I see new growth and blooms- it can truly mirror our own selves. There’s a lot of parallels to be drawn in the lives of plants and their caretakers.