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BY PAUL THOM
As a NYC public school teacher, I’ve had to completely redesign how I keep my students engaged. Much of my time is spent making lessons, videos, and fun little activities to keep kids excited about chemistry. But when I’m not lesson planning or grading, I’m being dad to 50-plus plants in my small Hell’s Kitchen apartment. Thankfully, my large, east-facing windows provide a good natural source of light to help the family grow and thrive.
So, in addition to watching the tear-jerker last season of Schitt’s Creek and endless Harry Potter marathons, I’m finding solace in giving my plants a little extra care these past few weeks. Plants are so much more than décor – they can also make people happy and help keep us grounded. Research has shown that they boost mood, productivity, concentration and creativity, and can reduce stress, fatigue, sore throats, and colds. On top of that, they can filter your indoor air by absorbing toxins and producing oxygen.
You might suddenly be tempted to start googling “buy plants NYC” but, before you do anything, I suggest you first understand the kind of light your place gets, and the level of care you’re willing to give. Then, once you’re committed to adding greenery to your space, you’ll find some shops in NYC that still offer curbside delivery. Also, a lot of people have Etsy shops that sell plants at reasonable prices.
And now is the perfect time to invest. The weather is getting warmer and we’re entering the growing season, so I’ve been doing a lot of repotting. One quick way to check if a plant is ready to repot is to examine the bottom of the pots. If the roots are creeping out, that’s a good indication it’s time for a larger pot. If it’s not in a pot with a drainage hole, then I’d definitely recommend repotting into one.
Each day, I’ll check for pests (on the top and underside of leaves) and make sure the soil is not super dry. I don’t have a set watering day (much as I would like to) because each plant has different needs and different levels of exposure to the sun. I also like to spritz my plants with water, as some enjoy more humidity than others. But while a spritz is refreshing, it’s not a long-term fix. If you see some of your plants getting crispy edges, it could mean the humidity level in your home is too low. I suggest getting a humidifier, especially for plants that really like a high level of humidity like Calatheas.
I’ve also been pruning and propagating. Some plants just grow faster and crazier than others, so to keep them in check – a quick snip is all it takes. Plop them in water, pray, and wait. Once they have established roots, they’re ready to be potted.
This may all seem like a five-minute endeavor, but when you have as many plants as I do, all with different needs, you’ll find that it’s a little more time-consuming than expected. However, caring for plants is both therapeutic and rewarding – especially when you see them grow and thrive. I hope you test your green thumb and find it as rewarding as I do.
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