Three youths share how keeping plants helps them de-stress and feel connected to nature.
A quick scroll on my Instagram explore page the other day led me down the wonderful rabbit hole that is the online plant community.
One photo of a balcony filled with greenery and painted pots piqued my curiosity and I clicked on it for a closer look. Before I knew it, I had spent an hour perusing dozens of accounts dedicated to house plants.
Some accounts document the owner’s gardening journey while others share how-to videos showing the right way to repot plants.
Seeing the surge in Instagram accounts that show off indoor plants in Singapore, I spoke to three plant account owners to find out why youths keep and care for their indoor plants.
Mohammad Aizat, 32, started keeping house plants in 2017 when he got married and moved in with his wife.
“It all started with a pot of aloe vera which we placed at the corner of our balcony,” the preschool teacher recounted.
Since that first pot, Aizat has collected a total of about 300 plants, such as aroids, begonias and ferns, accumulating them through his different plant phases.
Having that many pots of plants means that it takes Aizat about 20 minutes to water it every day before he leaves for work.
The man behind @plantazia.sg on Instagram, Aizat, who enjoys all things nature, said his love for plants grew naturally.
“Plants are relaxing and allow me to create a sanctuary in my own home. Even though I’m living in an apartment just like most Singaporeans, plants make me feel like I’m connected to the outdoors and not so boxed-in,” Aizat explained.
“The feeling of connectedness with nature puts me in a place of Zen.”
Aizat’s plants also attract wildlife like sunbirds and butterflies to his balcony every other day, making for a pleasant surprise for him and his wife.
Sometimes, Aizat will watch as the sunbirds pick at his hanging plant basket to try and build their nest.
Ho Mei Yin’s plant journey started back in December 2019 when she randomly bought her first succulent as a Christmas gift for herself. She had gotten inspiration from a YouTuber who talked about her houseplants in a video and thought succulents would be easy to start with.
The 23-year-old shared that her first plant experience did not go as planned: “Like most non-plant people, I thought it couldn’t be that difficult to care for one. But two weeks later, I had a very dead succulent and my wounded pride.”
“I decided not to give up and bought an ivy plant, which is still alive today! My plant hobby kind of spiraled from there,” she added.
It was only more recently that Mei Yin really got into plants. As it coincided with the COVID-19 outbreak, she has been able to spend more time at home caring for them as her classes moved online.
Mei Yin, who recently graduated from the National University of Singapore in June, finds that taking care of her plants is a relaxing part of her routine and it is fascinating to watch them grow.
“One big lesson I’ve taken away from owning plants is to take joy from small things. Watching my plants grow is this really simple thing that gives me a lot of happiness and satisfaction,” explained the aspiring lawyer.
“Before owning plants, I always felt like no matter how much I accomplished in terms of my studies, I was never really satisfied. But owning plants has given me a way to slow down and feel joy and pride in something that is not linked to my productivity or accomplishments.”
During the COVID-19 period, Mei Yin bought more than 40 plants. She thinks this number will only continue to grow since her family visits plant nurseries every weekend.
Mei Yin enjoys documenting her plants on her Instagram account, @papaho.plants, which she initially started because her father kept asking her to share photos of his plants, but soon took over with her own plants.
Like many other plant parents, Jolene Tan, 26, discovered her love for plants serendipitously.
The order fulfillment executive was queuing for bubble tea when she stumbled upon a succulent shop last year, attracted by how the plants looked.
After buying her first three pots of succulents, Jolene was hooked and bought more as she wanted to recreate a beautiful succulent arrangement she had seen online.
As she had no idea how to care for them, the 26-year-old joined different Facebook groups and did her own reading to ensure the succulents would thrive.
Doing all that research and caring for her succulents cemented Jolene’s love for plants so much so that she has collected around 50 plants to date.
Jolene shared that keeping these indoor plants serves as a way for her to wind down: “Keeping plants is so therapeutic as I generally feel more calm when I am around them and it gives my mood a lift.
“It helps me to de-stress by taking away what’s on my mind for a while since I’ll be admiring them, checking, watering or simply stroking leaves,” she added.
Jolene’s plant collection grows every week, and consists mostly of haworthias, astrophytums and sansevierias.
Growing her collection has been no easy feat. Jolene shared that her mother disapproves of her keeping too many plants. As a result, she has had to sneak in her new purchases and secretly add them to her plant collection.
“Usually she doesn’t see me bringing in plants but the next day, she’ll see them at the window area which I call ‘Magical Gardens by the Window’. The only time I got caught sneaking in was during circuit breaker as the courier arrived at the door and I couldn’t hide the plant,” she said.
Jolene even has a special highlight on her plant account, @ggplantgirll, which shows her various adventures sneaking in her new plants.
To restrain herself from overcrowding her makeshift garden, Jolene has recently gone on a plant ban where she cannot buy plants for 30 days.
She hopes this ban will appease her mother: “I need to practise self-control for a while as my table is running out of space and pace out my purchases a bit before my mother finds a chance to nag.”
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