I Was Guilty of “Plantslaughter” — But This Simple Trick Changed Everything

published May 18, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Top view of variegated house plant.
Credit: Meg Asby

In my home when I was growing up, we dusted plants instead of watering them, because they were all faux. My parents had enough living things to take care of (our blended family included a whopping six children), and houseplants didn’t make the cut. 

I do not have six children (I only have but two), but I still found it hard to embrace houseplants initially. I love them, truly, but #PlantTok — aka the subsection of TikTok all about plants and gardening — is intimidating. All these influencers showing off their “plant babies” made me feel like I couldn’t even try, because the plants would inevitably die and I would be guilty of plantslaughter. The stakes were too high. 

I usually embrace failure as a necessary part of learning. I burned many cakes along my journey to becoming an excellent home baker. I huffed and puffed through miles of trails before eventually calling myself a hiker. I’m still hopelessly inflexible and off-balance, but I practice yoga weekly with delight. But for some reason, I could not accept mistakes when it came to plants. Either I would be a full-on plant lady, or my decor would be lifeless — there was no middle ground. 

So when a neighbor offered to give me a free little starter plant (another barrier removed: cost), I decided to accept it. Surely with someone holding my hand along the way, I could do this. It was only one plant! 

I placed my little plant in indirect light in my kitchen. Turns out, it wasn’t indirect enough. Or maybe too indirect? Anyway, it was dying, as I knew it would. But I moved it to a window and it got happier. I started to feel a little more confident. 

Then, I got overconfident. I splurged at Trader Joe’s on a cartful of affordable plants in charming containers. I dotted my home with them smugly, sure of success after my initial victory. Some didn’t make it. And I felt bad about it. But you know what? Some did. 

And now that I’m not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, my kitchen is full of plants, some of them thriving, some inexplicably crunchy despite my best efforts, but all of them making my home feel alive. 

Credit: Meg Asby

Mistakes are part of it, and even if those fancy plant parents on TikTok aren’t making videos about it, I bet they have killed some — or many — plants along the way, too. So, if you’re feeling as intimidated by houseplants as I was, this is your sign to give it a try. (You might start with these super-easy-to-grow houseplants.) It’ll be OK, I promise. 

What’s your best advice for new plant parents? Let us know in the comments!