Questions I Ask My Houseplants

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Having advanced well past middle school science class, I would say that my knowledge of caring for nature and plants started out rather basic. Recently, however, I’ve begun talking to my plants and asking them questions. I have discovered that my questions provide insightful answers that will carry me further than just becoming “plant lady.”

A mom enjoys learning to care for houseplants to become a "plant lady."

My house may not yet be as dreamy as the 2.1 million images found when searching the hashtag #plantlover, but each plant holds a special memory from my past.

A few plants came to me four years ago by way of a funeral arrangement after the passing of my first born son. Others have deeper roots dating back to my childhood having once lived on the kitchen table of my great grandfather. A couple plants I married into, as they were gifts from my mother-in-law. One fiddle leaf fig symbolizes the start of our lives when we moved into our new home back in December. And a collection of succulents reminds me of the weekend when we turned our guest bedroom into a fully functioning office as COVID-19 altered my work environment. 

Perhaps it’s the extra time I have acquired while working from home, the new pace of life, or the longing to sit in the company of others again, but I have found myself spending more time with my plants.

As I stared into their green chlorophyll and observed the patterns of their veins, it was as if I was searching for their innermost soul. With a quiet whisper, in hopes of not disturbing their “zen-full” presence, I asked, “What do you need from me? Do you need more water? More sunlight? Am I providing you with enough care?” Silence.

I patiently waited, anticipating for an answer to come to me on how I could better care for this living beauty. Alas, no answer was spoken. As I turned to leave my bathroom, where some of plants have taken permanent residence, I saw my reflection in the mirror and found the answers I was seeking. 

For me to become any of the roles I set to achieve in life, I first must become the best version of myself. The same questions I asked my plants are the same questions I must ask myself. Am I getting enough water throughout the day, or am I parched? Have I soaked in the sun’s goodness, while being adequately lathered in sunscreen, during my daily walk or while playing in the backyard with my son? What is one way that I have shown myself care today, whether allowing myself to rest during nap time instead of rushing through household chores or giving myself permission to enjoy the moderately sized bowl of ice cream at night? I asked myself these questions as I stared into my own eyes, reaching into my own innermost soul. 

Just as my plants are fully alive and living, so I am. So are you. Their needs, and ours, will ebb and flow with the seasons of life, as should be expected. Let our response set a course of actions carried out with tender love, care, and grace. While I cannot assuredly speak to what the future will hold, I do know that my house will continue to be filled with plants, solidifying their significance with the memories they represent. I do know that I will continue to spend time asking the questions that lead to a fulfilling and thriving life. And I do know, with full confidence, that I will never stop rooting for us all as we continue to grow as this living beauty.

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Joining Janie on the pursuit of life’s adventures while laughing along the way are Janie’s husband, Jared who is a flight school director and pilot, their angel baby, Jackson (2016) who passed away shortly after birth, and newest crew member, Jensen (2018). With an undergraduate degree in communication from UTA and a master’s in health communication from the University of Illinois, writing has been a creative outlet for Janie. Working full-time in healthcare, being involved at her local church, and volunteering with the Junior League of Fort Worth, Janie is passionate about serving people and holds a special place in her heart for women and children. When they are not headed to their next adventure, you can find Janie and her family creating their own adventure as proud Fort Worth residents.

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