How to not suck at: Keeping Plants in Your House

Story by Eric Christenson

HOW TO NOT SUCK AT THINGS is an advice column written by Eric Christenson who sucks at a lot of things.  Why would you take advice from someone who sucks at the thing they’re giving you advice about?

…That’s a good question.

Last summer, I moved off-campus into a big empty house.  I filled this big empty house with furniture, a TV, a refrigerator: the basics.  There was a microwave, a bed, ice cream, cupboards, roommates, very little carpeting and a basement.  There were plates, cups, forks, knives, spoons, sinks that worked and a shower that sprayed water so hard you could bounce a quarter off of it.
I digress…

But living with only the equipment designed for absolute minimum survival sometimes isn’t enough and sometimes roommates can be lame (not mine, though).  So i

I can’t think of anything other than houseplants that meet that criteria.

Continuing the story, my girlfriend’s mom gave us some plants to decorate the house with.  And they were really great!
…until every last one of them died.

It was heartbreaking, you guys!  So I decided to dedicate my life (this column) to researching some expert ways to not suck at keeping house plants in your house.

LESSON 1: BUY A PLANT
Every plant is different!  I like to pick out one that matches my personality.  Let’s say you’re flashy and you smell pretty good: I’d go with some nice carnation flowers.  Let’s say you’re feisty and don’t take naught from no one.  I’d maybe try red peppers or something with thorns.  You get the idea.

Me?  I sunburn easily and I like to dream of being good at cooking, so I chose an aloe plant and some basil plants.

Except someone stole our basil plant right off of our front step!  Whoever you are, it’s not marijuana, so give it back.

LESSON 2: TALK TO THE PERSON YOU BOUGHT THE PLANT FROM
They’ll know more than me, so get as much advice right away as possible.

For this, it’s better to buy your plants from an actual greenhouse than say, Walmart.  They’re more likely to be ultra-knowledgeable about every plant, so do that!  They’ll teach you the right environment to raise your little plant from a seedling to a California redwood.

LESSON 3: DUH
Water it and keep it in the sunlight!

Our problems were that there isn’t good sunlight in a consistent spot in our house, and we forgot to water, so naturally the plants suffered.  Side note, don’t water too much!  It happened sometimes that I would water a plant and leave and then one of my roommates would water the plant, and it would flood.  Flooding = bad too.

LESSON 4: PERSONALIZE YOUR PLANT
Give your plant a name!  You’re less likely to kill Dave than you are to kill a sunflower.

LAST RESORT: CACTUS, CACTUS, CACTUS!
If all else fails, buy a ball cactus at a Grand Canyon gift shop. Or anywhere, I guess, but I got mine at a Grand Canyon gift shop about a year ago, and it’s kicking strong.

Cactuses or cacti (nerds) are fun to name, potentially a weapon and resilient.  You don’t really have to water them (much) and they look pretty cool with googly eyes glued to them.

If you’re intent on keeping a plant in your house, and you’re really awful at it, this is absolutely the way to go.

So get out there and make a difference in your own home.  Introduce a little life!  Create an ecosystem!  Maybe even make a few friends along the way.  Just try your best not to kill your plants.