One morning I woke up to find a miniature pineapple resting in a bowl full of water on my kitchen counter, a “gift." I knew the bare minimum about growing plants, and I had never had a particular interest in learning more. Ironically, the lucky bamboo that I had purchased at the start of college, famous for promoting prosperity, had died, promptly.
So I did next what anyone would do in this situation: I Googled, “How do I grow a pineapple," and I meticulously followed each step. For over a year, I watched this plant grow slowly and steadily until it produced its own tiny, spunky, baby pineapple. As part of my morning routine, I would check on its growth. I would make sure it got proper light, water, and temperatures. I may have even a time or two called my boyfriend from work insisting that he needed to bring it outside at prime daylight because I had forgotten to do so before I left. I went a little crazy. Plants are simply pets that don’t break the bank.
Seeing this little pineapple spring to life awoke something in me. Turns out, gardening is therapeutic, a stress-reliever that triggers serotonin and dopamine (the good stuff) to release in your brain. Gardening reminds you daily that you, too, can grow upwards. You are not stuck underground. I was able to give the offspring of my pineapple plant to important people in my life so that they could, in turn, grow their own. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
In my experience, all plants bring something worthy to the table, and it's no surprise that millennials are being credited as the generation to bring back the "green thumb." Gardening allows for better nutrition, is cost-effective, and helps support a healthy environment and mindset. Here’s a list of 8 plants that I have successfully grown, guaranteed to bring some character into your home and some happiness into your life:
Pineapple: Okay, I’m biased. These guys are slow growers. They take over a year to produce fruit, but they bloom purple flowers, smell sweet, and require very little effort. They like full-on sun and only need to be watered once a week.
Snake Plant: Snake plants are very popular in offices, businesses, and even homes, mainly because they are air purifiers, and they have interesting patterns. They can grow to be 3 feet tall, and they are extremely easy to care for. They do well with indirect sunlight and minimum water.
Succulents, any and all. Succulents can basically survive a nuclear holocaust. They are mostly indestructible, and they add desert charm to any place. Be careful to only water them once the soil is dry from all previous watering.
Sunflowers: My favorite flower, for good reason. These suckers grow 7-8 feet tall and abundantly fast. They can brighten up any atmosphere and require minimum care. Water them frequently and leave them out there in the sun all day long.
Green Onions: To be honest, I got tired of paying 2 dollars at the grocery store every time I needed green onions, a staple for Cajun recipes. These visibly grow within a day or two, and can prosper in soil or even simply a cup of water. Start by cutting off the white roots on a pack of green onions, then place them in water and reap the rewards. In general, kitchen scraps can go a long way. Save them to grow lettuce, garlic, avocados and sweet potatoes.
Desert Rose: The desert rose is a special type of succulent that blooms stunning pink flowers when cared for correctly. They grow well as potted house plants and do best in warm temperatures with daily direct sunlight. Do not over-water them, instead, wait for the soil to be completely dry to the touch, then add water about once a week.
Pitcher Plant: Pitcher Plants have special leaves called “pitfall traps,” which have a fluid inside that attracts insects and causes them to slip inside of the leaf, to be consumed by the plant. In other words, pitcher plants will allow you to have a mosquito-free environment, and that, alone, sold me on them. Pitcher plants need soggy soil, so keep them constantly watered with either natural rain or distilled water. It is best to simply place them on a tray and keep that tray filled with water. They also need tons of sunlight, so leave them outside on spring days for best results.
Bonsai: These Japanese-inspired mini trees add the ultimate class and uniqueness to any home or office, however, they are not for the faint of heart. Bonsai plants come in all shapes and sizes (do your research before buying) and they require semi-sunlight, medium heat, frequent watering, fertilizing and TLC. If you want to test your ability to keep a plant alive and amaze all of your friends, Bonsai plants are the way to go.
Spring has sprung. Get growing!