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New Plant Parent Apprehension: Solved!

Updated: Apr 15, 2022

Featured Author: Kelly @dbakercannotcooke

The year is 2020.

Gardening Centers, Hardware stores and online shopping carts alike are FILLED with orders for potting mix, pots, plants, raised beds, plant food … toilet paper and paper towels.

Packages are delivered for months on end to the new members of the plant owning community.

The first day is a joy! You take an incredible amount of photos of your new plant on your phone to post to your social media accounts. The filters are the fun part!

After your declaration of potted plant parent bliss … the anxiety sets in.

  • How much should I water this?

  • The information says that it is sun to part shade, what does that mean?

  • Do I need to change soil?

  • What if this grows too big for the pot, what type of soil do I use?

  • Is this safe for pets?

  • When is it supposed to flower?

I remember when I was gifted my first houseplant. My friend and her family own a gardening center and she gave me an Aloe plant! I was so excited I strapped the little munchkin in the seatbelt in the front of my car and home I went. When I got home … I looked at my cats and my tiny 3rd floor apartment and then back at the lovely gift my friend gave me. Where the heck was I supposed to put this? I had no idea what I was doing.

Off on a Google spiral I went only to find that my thoughts were right all along. Aloe plants are warriors and give added benefits to just being beautiful living décor. I popped the plant up on a cabinet so my cats could not get to it. Now, this Aloe plant died. I ended up watering it way too much and the poor thing gave up and was put into the compost. However, I learned so much with that experience. I learned that I do not need to be overbearing with certain plants and also that my cats had no interest in that type of plant (I discovered they love plants with leaves). Hundreds of house plants later and I now have another Aloe plant that is absolutely thriving.

Not everyone needs to be an expert or have a ‘green thumb’ (which is gross … I do not know how you eat your fun dip but you are doing it wrong) in order to own a small office plant.

Granted, all office plants are now home plants but the vibe remains the same:

Everyone is a good plant owner!

There is no magic equation or a certificate for keeping a succulent alive. Own a cactus? You do not need to live in the desert … you also do not need to water this every day.

Think of certain plants like certain pets:

I equate succulents and cacti to cats and something a bit more involved like a fiddle leaf fig to a dog.

Are you more of a cat or a dog person?

Are you more of a succulent or orchid person?

The beauty of plants is they give so much in return for so little and you, my plant parent friend, get to decide which plants works best for you.

Happy learning and growing!

By the way, if you are a new plant parent, the Smart Plant and Tree Care app will help keep those anxieties at bay. It gives you plant care instructions and direct access to horticulture experts so you can always feel confident in your plant caring abilities.

Download iOS here. Download Android here.


Colleagues call me Kelly or Kelly Ann. Students call me Dr. Baker. Clients call me Dr. Dirt. I am your friendly neighborhood crazy plant lady.

I come from a family of fake plant owners where the only maintenance was dusting off the bright plastic leaves. Growing up I had no real plants in my home except for the ones outside. My grandmother was one of my first memories of sustainability in that she would root through the trash and sprinkle the coffee grinds and egg shells on the outdoor plants.

When I am not teaching (I am an Adjunct Professor), walking my dog or working on landscaping/gardening for my properties I pride myself on being that strange plant rescue mom with friends and neighbors giving me their brown and shriveled attempts at potted plant ownership. Some of these plants can be saved (it is a succulent, you are overwatering it) and some of them cannot (I do not know what this used to be, but I would recommend composting it).

I am located in Pennsylvania where I live with my two adopted cats, Leah and Selena Kyle, my newly adopted dog named King Theoden (aka, Theo) and a VERY healthy amount of plants.

I am so excited to use my passion for plants and writing to be a guest blogger here at Smart Plant Home.

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