Plant Care is Self Care

Cultivating Self Love and Empathy Through House Plants

Small figurine of a woman in a white gown reaching out towards the sky with blue birds on her arms. She's standing next to a potted succulent in front of a round window.

Would you believe me if I told you that people with a green thumb are happier than people who constantly kill plants?

It’s true! Catherine Morehouse over at The Daily Free Now wrote a great article on the 5 benefits of houseplants if you want to read more about plants and happiness.

How would you feel if I told you I could teach you to have a green thumb?

You can grow a green thumb.

And you can do it by combining plant care with self care!

I’m gonna be honest with you, I’ve killed more plants than I can count. I’ve made all the mistakes, and I didn’t learn from them for a really long time. And it wasn’t just my plants that I was neglecting; I wasn’t taking proper care of myself, either!

Have you ever been in a funk? Where even getting yourself to take a shower is a huge task and you just wanna sleep all day?

I spent years like that. I was gross and sad and didn’t care. Maybe you’ve never felt that way, but you’ve probably known someone who did, right?

GIF, the camera slowly pans up the frame showing a dirty room

This post won’t teach you how to get out of a funk. I’m not a mental health professional and don’t want to risk accidentally causing more harm than good.

This post will teach you how to:

Create a self care routine

Learn plant body language

Combine plant care routines with a self care routine.

See the warning signs of a funk before you fall into one.

Light gray background with succulent in a light gray pot in foreground

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Self Care is Self Love, and it helps to have a routine.

All of nature runs on cycles, and humans are no different. Set aside some time for yourself periodically to just focus on you, boo. Think about what you need to do daily, weekly, and monthly to feel your best, then set aside some time to actually do it.

Chances are you already have a basic daily routine going. Maybe something along these lines:

Daily Self Care

💚Brush teeth and floss
(at least 2x a day!)

(morning or night, it doesn't matter)

💚Drink water
(coffee doesn't count!!)

This basic daily routine is actually more than enough to care for plants daily, too! But to take really good care of your plants you should have a weekly routine.

Let’s use my routine as an example. For me, self care is all about pampering myself, pretending I’m at a spa.

Basic Self Care Sunday

💚Face mask, hair mask, teeth whitening
(they all take around 15 minutes, so I do 'em at the same time)

(it depends on how I feel that day!)

💚Cut, shape, and file nails
(nice nails make me feel more put together throughout the week)

💚Big glass of wine and a bubble bath
(with a good book, of course!)

I didn’t include any daily habits in there, but do all your dailies, too! If spa days aren’t what you need to do to feel relaxed, by all means do whatever it is that you need to do. Remember, this is just an example to help you out with making your own ritual.

Luxurious bathroom with tub surrounded by white stones and a palm plant. Towels hang on a ladder-style wooden rack.
Photo from Unsplash

Well, not quite. It takes a little bit of research. Just a bit, not a whole lot! Caring for ourselves is easy, we know what we need. Caring for cats and dogs is a little harder, but they’ll tell us what they need. Plants are like cats and dogs, they might not be able to speak, but they’ll do their best to tell you what they need anyways!


Learn to read plant body language.

It’ll be kind of different for each plant, but there are some really general things to look out for with most house plants.

Basic Plant Body Language

🌱Do the leaves look soggy, yellow, or black and blotchy?
This can be a sign that you're over watering!

🌱Are the leaves curling, dry, and crunchy?
Your plant is probably thirsty!

🌱Is your plant stretching towards the window and unusually tall?
It's reaching for sunlight!

🌱Are the leaves brown and dry?
Plants can get sunburn too!

These are just general rules, so don’t forget to research the specific plants you have! Some plants “sweat” when they’re over watered, while others won’t. They’re all unique!

It’s good to check on your plants every day just to say hi! If your plants are near a window, and chances are they are, then you’ll want to be sure to open and close the blinds every day to make sure they’re getting enough sunlight.

Close up of wet split leaf philodendron leaves.
Photo from Unsplash

I do this around the same time that I brush my teeth. Once in the morning, once at night. Easy peasy! You’re probably already opening and closing your curtains daily, and this is about all you need to do for plants on a daily basis.

Weekly plant check ups:

This is when you should really spend some time with your plant babies!

If you’re doing your daily plant check ups there shouldn’t be any surprises when the weekly check ups roll around. Here’s a pretty general list of what you should be doing every week:

Weekly Plant Care

🌱Feed your plants!
(follow the directions on the plant food! It's generally 1x weekly)

🌱Rotate your plants!
(make sure all sides of your plant are getting enough sunlight)

🌱Prune any dead leaves!
(as you learn to read plant language there will be fewer and fewer)

🌱Check their soil!
(stick your finger a couple inches in the dirt before watering)

Plants aren’t clocks, so they probably won’t need the exact same treatment every week. That’s why it’s important to check on them! It’s tempting to water a plant every Sunday without fail, but honestly, that’s just lazy(and a little bit selfish).

Can following a routine really be lazy(and selfish)?

Yes! If you water your plants every Sunday without actually checking to see if that’s what the plant needs then you aren’t really caring for that plant, are you? If you’re not learning the language that plant “speaks” then you can’t possibly be caring for it’s well-being, can you?

When you care about something you listen to it and you act accordingly. This goes for people, plants, and animals alike.

It’s like this. Imagine feeding your dog every day at the same times. One day your dog stops eating food and starts eating grass, but you don’t do anything about it. You just keep adding food to the bowl, even though it’s already full of food from yesterday. The dog starts losing weight even though you’ve been putting food in the bowl daily. Would you keep letting that happen?


At least, I sure hope not! You’d probably research why dogs eat grass and go see a vet. Plants are complex living organisms and need to be treated with that same care and attention!

Caring for plants teaches us to read silent and sometimes subtle body language and is a wonderful exercise in empathy.

Children rebel, pets run away, and you lose friends when you’re selfish. Plants can’t leave you(unless they have a super cool robot pot), so you’re basically the main thing that keeps them alive. You give them the water, food, sunlight, and temperature controlled environment that they need to survive. Sure, they do well on their own in the wild, but you make the choice to take them in.

That used to be me killing my plants. Not listening as they did all they could to tell me what was wrong. I was selfish. But I learned to combine my self-centered behaviors with plant-centered behaviors.

Learning to take care of plants has made me more sensitive to the needs of people around me.

People aren’t nearly as straightforward as plants when it comes to letting you know something is up. After I learned to notice when a plant needs something, it became easier to see when people needed things, too! Even if they said they were fine, I started to really see if and when their body language said otherwise.

See, I’ve never been great at subtlety, so picking up on body language was always hard for me. I thought people would just tell me when something was wrong and put all the responsibility on them. When you don’t listen to someone’s body language it can send the message that you don’t care enough to notice, or that you only care for yourself. That might not be true, but it can come off that way.

Properly caring for plants forces you to pay attention to the silent needs of others,

and you can learn to care for plants by using your self care routine!

When I fall into a funk it’s harder for me to pay attention to the needs of others. Since I’ve been keeping house plants its been really easy to catch a funk before it starts! Unhealthy plants are a sign that I’ve been neglectful to my plants, to myself, and usually to other people too. Since I don’t want to kill my babies, they force me to keep up with routines(even if I just want to sleep all day).

Feeling good about yourself means you have more energy to give to others.

Sticking to routines can keep you from neglecting others and yourself. So now that we’ve got our routines put together it’s time to combine them. I like to combine similar activities, like this:

 Self Care Plant Care Sundays

💚Face mask, hair mask, teeth whitening
(they all take around 15 minutes, so I do 'em at the same time)

🌱Feed your plants!
(follow the directions on the plant food! It's generally 1x weekly)

(it depends on how I feel that day!)

🌱Rotate your plants!
(make sure all sides of your plant are getting enough sunlight)

💚Cut, shape, and file nails
(nice nails make me feel more put together throughout the week)

🌱Prune any dead leaves!
(as you learn to read plant language there will be fewer and fewer)

💚Big glass of wine and a bubble bath
(with a good book, of course!)

🌱Check their soil!
(stick your finger a couple inches in the dirt before watering)

See how I have face/hair masks paired with feeding plants? That’s because masks give your skin and hair an extra boost of nutrients, and plant food adds nutrients to the soil. Pruning leaves and cutting nails are together because they’re both about removal.

Now, when I see that my plants are unwell I’m able to catch myself before falling into a nasty funk!


Plant Care is Self Care

I truly believe that cultivating plants helps people to cultivate empathy. Sometimes, even though we do everything right, plants will die on us anyways. Whats that all about?

Some people believe that plants protect us from negativity. See, everything that exists is energy. The way I see it, there’s 4 kinds of energy:

  • creative
  • maintaining
  • destructive
  • unchanging(the energy “underneath” all the others)

Have you ever met someone and immediately had a bad gut feeling about them and ignored it, only to find out later that your gut was right and the person was actually a bad person? Or maybe you’ve gotten a really bad feeling in a place and decided to leave, only to find out later that something bad happened there?

“Trust your gut.” We’ve all heard it said. Our gut can sense energy and warns us when the energy is destructive. Animals do it too!

We feel that energy coming from people, and there’s a belief that some people can willingly send their energy out to help or harm others. Praying, meditating, or casting a spell are examples of ways people send out their “good vibes.”

You’d better believe malicious people send out “bad vibes” too! Gossiping, talking trash, general ill-willing towards a person can inadvertently send a lot of negativity to them. So when your plants die without any discernible cause, it might be because they were protecting you from the world’s bad energy!

Nature enriches our lives in so many different ways, it’s only fair that we return the favor.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again until I die,

Nature gives us everything we need to live healthy lives because we are a part of Nature.

It’s easy to forget that we came from Nature. Don’t be ungrateful! Plants help us cultivate empathy for others and are a great way to show gratitude for Nature. After all, Nature takes care of us, so we should take care of Nature too!


Did you find this helpful? Tell me in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

Published by Sam

Hey there, I'm Sam! I'm a freelance writer. Stick around for some writing tips, cheesy poetry, and free wallpapers! ✨

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