I think about motherhood alot more than I’d like to admit. Just the thought of the amount of responsibility that comes with taking care of another person (even myself) can be overwhelming at times. Somewhere between being stressed and making impulse purchases in the name of “self-care,” over the last couple of years I have become somewhat of a plant mom. It was my first test at being responsible for something living. Because if I can raise a plant, I can raise a kid right? (That’s not how it works, I know, but it’s a start!)
My first plant was a beautiful moon cactus (named Pinky & the Brain) from a green market. Pinky was a beautiful addition to my altar…until she died. I know what you’re thinking how can you kill a cactus? But, this happens when you dive head first into plant life! After killing two more plants, I finally got it together.
If you’re into plants or want to start adding more green into your life, here’s a guide on the best plant shops to checkout and plant tips from Tasha of BrightinDirect!P
For Leafy Plants:
Rooted($): Located in Williamsburg and with numerous plant based workshops including macramé, Rooted is a great place to start your plant journey. Though I highly recommend going in-store for your first visit (the employees are really nice and don’t mind the hundreds of questions you might have), Rooted’s website breaks down the plant of your dreams by size, pet friendly-ness, level of difficulty, and level of light.
The Sill ($$): With two locations in the city (one on the UWS and one in LES), The Sill was the first plant shop I ever visited. After explaining my issues with my moon cactus, the manager at the time explained that moon cactus’ don’t typically have a long lifespan which calmed my spirit and actually made me want to buy another plant. If you’re into planters or pots being as beautiful and aesthetically pleasing as the actual plant, The Sill is your go-to though it might cost you a few more bucks. If you’re ready to kick your plant life into overdrive, the shop also offers monthly subscriptions starting at $35.
Sprout ($-$$): With beautiful (and affordable) ceramic planters, floral arrangements, and greenery wall to wall, walking into Sprout is like walking into plant heaven. Located in Williamsburg (and Chicago), Sprout offers workshops on terrariums and is even having a ladybug release party on the 22nd! Plant-wise, the shop offers a huge variety and will even repot them on the spot for around $6.
Green Fingers Market ($$$): This tiny Japanese based thrift store meets plant nursery is located directly on Rivington. Green Fingers offers a small yet unique variety of plants including cacti, snake plants, birds of paradise and more. This gem is definitely on the pricer side, but where else can you get an entire vintage leather look and a plant at the same time?
For Floral Plants/Herbs/Etc.:
Urban Garden Center ($): East Harlem has more gems than people like to mention and the Urban Garden Center is one of them. With everything from seeds and herbs to roses and indoor plants, the block-long nursery has every type of plant you’d need for the community garden to your apartment.
Union Square Farmer’s Market ($): If you know me, you know I love a green market. Anywhere I can get good produce directly from the source is a staple for me. When I stumbled upon Union Sq’s Farmer’s Market, which takes place Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays (honestly, the best day to go), I got my first plant. While there are many different vendors with great prices on their plants, I did notice some vendors would say anything to make a sale— like a cactus needing to be watered weekly (R.I.P. Pinky + The Brain). Make sure you ask the right questions and only buy from people who give you the correct answers or ones that at least make sense.
Planting Seeds: Plant Tips with BrightinDirect:
Whether you’re new or true to this plant life, Virginia’s very own horticulturist, Tasha of BrightinDirect shares some tips to help turn that brown thumb green.
Picking Your First Plant:
This is as much an emotional and aesthetic decision as it is a tactical one. The two big things to consider are:
- How much work do you see yourself putting into maintenance?
Plant care can get complicated quick depending on which one you choose. If you travel a lot, forget things a lot, or just don’t like doing a lot of work it’s best you opt for something that’s hardier. I recommend a pothos, a snake plant, or a ZZ plant for all baby green thumbs.
- How much light do get where you envision putting your plant?
Light is plant food. All plants need it to survive, and especially to thrive. There are certain varieties that can tolerate less light, and others that need full sun, and others that can’t take full, direct sun at all. But all plants need light, and none of them thrive in low light.
- The best rule of thumb is to place your plant as close to the nearest window as possible. If you have an iPhone, whip out the compass app and use it to determine which direction the light is coming from. South is best, east and west are great, and north gets, objectively, the least amount of light from a “that’s just the way the Earth tilts” perspective.
Repotting a Plant:
Taking a new plant from its plastic growing pot to a new container is relatively easy.
Squeeze the plastic pot gently until you feel and see the soil loosening, then even more gently pull it out. Be careful when pulling so you don’t accidentally lose any roots. Most plants you buy are sold “overgrown” meaning they’re already too big for the pot they’re in, and may have roots that have grown out of the drainage holes in the bottom. Once you have it out, shake loose as much soil as possible. In the new container, fill about one third of it with soil, place the plant in, and fill in the gaps with more soil. Press the dirt down as you go, and give it a thorough watering once you’re done–you should see water draining out of the bottom!
Watering & Propagation:
- Watering seems simple enough but can be a bit of a mystery because signs of over-watering and under-watering are the same a lot of times in a lot of plants. Your best weapon against this is a chopstick. To check how moist or dry the soil is, stick it down about halfway, away from the roots, and let it sit about 5 minutes before pulling it up. If it comes back dry, water your plant. If it comes back visibly damp with bits of soil stuck to it, hold back on watering for another couple days. You can also use it to aerate your soil (aka poking holes in it) so that when you do water, it gets distributed more evenly!
- Propagation is the easiest way to get more plants for free ninety-nine. It’s especially easy to do on any pothos or philodendron variety. Take a longer vine and looks for nodes: they’re little brown knobs that grow near where leaves sprout. Once you recognize a node, you want to make a cut so that the cutting (from end to end) has at least two or three leaves and two nodes on it. When cutting, try to cut as close to the next node as possible. Take your cutting and put it in a vessel with water, and by vessel, I literally mean anything that’ll hold water. Old liquor, wine, or water bottles will do. Then you wait. Some cuttings take longer than others to start rooting, but in about two weeks you should see signs of root growth! Once the new roots get between 2-3″ long you can make the plant to a pot with soil, or let it stay in its water home. Just make sure you change the water weekly.
Here are some of my favorite plant folks to follow on IG for more tips and inspo: BrightinDirect, GreenHairGreenThumb, OliveeFloral, The Plant Mami, and Black Girls With Gardens.