I used to assume I had a black thumb, doomed to kill any plant left in my care. This wasn’t based on any hard evidence, other than a brief attempt to keep a potted rose bush alive in my early teens. I forgot to water the plant and it died in a matter of days.
I decided at the beginning of the year that I would give plant care another, more earnest try. A friend and I visited the plant district in Downtown LA where I carefully considered which plants were right for me. I ended up buying a polka dot plant and a small rubber tree.
Every morning, regardless of whether I needed to water the plants, I would compliment their growth and tell them how beautiful they were. My freckle faced plant began sprouting violet flowers in response.
There’s something powerful about discerning how to care for another living thing. Sure, you can find directions online, but you’ll also have to trust yourself and pay close attention to how the plants are responding to the unique conditions within your home. As I began to sense some of my plants’ more subtle preferences, it encouraged me to follow my intuition in other ways.
Many of us have naturally nurturing personalities and sometimes this impulse is projected on the wrong person, causing us to involve ourselves with those who seek to take advantage of our giving nature. By placing our focus on plants, we’re given a healthy outlet to indulge this tendency. We’re able to discern that our over-involvement in other people’s problems is rooted in a desire to care for something outside of ourselves. Putting that energy towards plants that truly do rely on us can help us create better boundaries in our relationships.
Another benefit of plant care is a stronger connection to the earth, which can also help build intuition. Being around plants improves our mood and helps us understand on a very practical level how much the earth supports us. We’re encouraged to be more mindful of how we are in exchange with the earth and whether our daily habits are sustainable or wasteful. You’ll be inspired to spend more time in green spaces where your intuition might be easier to access. Experiment with meditating around your plants or in nature to see what earthly wisdom comes through.
Here are a few suggestions for developing your intuition through plant care:
1. If you’re inexperienced in plant care, start with an easy indoor plant rather than choosing the most beautiful or exotic looking option. If you’re visiting a plant nursery, pay attention to the conditions where the plant is being kept. Is it in a bright greenhouse or outside where it gets full sunlight? Is it tucked away on a dark shelf? These are likely the conditions it will need to continue thriving.
2. Try to choose a plant that you have some personal connection to. Maybe you have fond memories of calla lilies that grew outside of your childhood home. Perhaps the scent of roses brings you calm or peace of mind.
3. If you’re looking to connect with your personal ancestry, plants can be a powerful tool in this practice. As a Black woman in America, I don’t have much knowledge of who my ancestors were or where they came from, but choosing plants that are native to certain regions of Africa makes me feel connected to my motherland. My polka dot plant originates from Madagascar and sometimes I like to gaze at it and imagine how it takes form on those planes. As the plant blooms under my care, I wonder if there is an ancient part of my subconscious that intuitively knows what it needs.
4. There’s a special satisfaction in eating food that you’ve grown from a seedling. Herb gardens are a fairly easy venture for new gardeners and certain fruits and vegetables grow easily given the right environment. When eating herbs or other foods you’ve raised yourself, be mindful of how your body is responding to this homegrown sustenance. You might find that you have more energy or certain senses sharpened.
5. Once you’ve chosen your plant(s), talk to them, praise them often, and ask them what they need. Practice listening to your plants and let this attentiveness inspire how you care for yourself. Give yourself praise for growing a little bit every day. Ask yourself what you need and allow yourself to become still as you wait for an answer. Affirm that you are not separate from nature, but one of its infinite expressions.
Feature Image by @___.d2.___