We love plants in the house, especially at this time of the year when it’s cold and snowy outside. In Canada, we spend well over half of the year in the house and having houseplants is a simple way to help reconnect our modern lives with the calm and peace that nature brings.
The problem with our houseplants
Our plants have always been scattered all over the house. A bamboo plant in the living room, a christmas cactus next to our Montessori shelves, a couple of ming aralias in the kitchen.
Over time however, I realized that they started to lose their impact in the warmth and greenery that they should bring. Each one of them started blending into their spaces. After a while, we all stopped seeing them, which really defeats the purpose of bringing in houseplants in the first place.
Instead of bringing calm and peace, our houseplants started to create disorder and stress in my life. Because they were scattered all over, we would sometimes forget to water a few of them, especially because they have different watering requirements. Sometimes the children would water the plants and spill a bit of water on the floor, and I’m usually fine with that. However because some of our plants are on wood floor that can be damaged by water, I have to enforce an immediate clean up and almost always have to double check that the floor is dry. And I really dislike doing that because it sends a wrong message to the child.
Sometimes we would have to do some indoor gardening work such as pruning, transplanting or repotting, and I struggled to find a proper place to do it. We always ended up doing it in the kitchen, but that involves hauling a variety of tools from all over the place, plus it’s not the most hygienic thing to be doing in the kitchen.
Our houseplants situation had become mentally exhausting and unconducive for us!
The solution: From scattered to gathered
It was obvious the houseplants set up wasn’t working for our family. I finally figured out that I needed to group all the houseplants together. I needed a dedicated space for the all plants. A little indoor nature space. A Montessori indoor garden of sorts.
There’s a nook just next to our garage entrance door that I have never quite figured out what to do with. Over the past four years, it has been a little kitchen office, a mudroom of sorts with a bench, but most often it was just a dumping ground for bags.
Our no-purpose-nook has finally revealed its true purpose for our family — as the perfect space for a nature nook. Isn’t it beautiful?
How is it working out so far?
What a transformation! I wanted order and convenience out of the solution, which I certainly got, but so much more has happened since the nature nook became alive just a few weeks ago.
The biggest impact is how much pull power it has. All the plants grouped together evoke this feeling of supernatural abundance. Our little jungle almost provoke you into a sense of calm. It’s next to our dining table as well and everyone enjoys the view while we are dining.
Because all the gardening tools are now grouped together in one rightful and convenience place, tending to the plants suddenly becomes so natural for the kids. I don’t want to force care of plants on the children, so we all take joint responsibility for their care. We’ve placed a spray bottle on the shelf and every so often, Zach will automatically mist the plants, especially if we are just hanging out there getting dressed to go out.
I discovered that the kids now compare plants naturally. Next to some of our other less thirsty plants, they easily notice how droopy the leaves can get on our thirsty impatiens. Or they notice how quickly the spring onions are sprouting.
I haven’t prepared any materials for this area, and yet our botany lessons have self-started and seem to flow with the growth and timing of the plants. Learning in this area and subject has become more fluid and natural. The plants have become the teacher.
Also, you can see that the space is still rather empty since we are just starting out. But there’s just so much potential! I’m thinking starting seeds using eggshells, growing from scrap vegetables (above you can see we’ve started on spring onions), and just collecting more nature items on this shelf.
Houseplants are so beneficial to children (and adults!), even if you don’t have a large space to dedicate to it. If your children seem indifferent to their houseplants, I encourage you to try something different. Group them together to see how they respond to it. Or perhaps you’ve always had them grouped, try scattering them to see what happens.
In our case, the transformation was a thing of beauty, not just for the nook but for my soul. I never did realize it before and it is easy to miss because I’ve never thought of houseplants in this way before, but even nature needs a sense of order.