We learn lessons in life from many things: our experiences, people we interact with, children, pets and more. We might as well learn from our plants while we are at it. Granted, we often control what happens to both our indoor and outdoor plants, but if we pause a minute to think about it, they have a lot they can teach us.
• Use a support system. Soil most commonly supports plants, but sometimes they need a little extra help from stakes or trellises. Plants that have a tendency to stretch themselves a little too thin or climb too quickly are most in need of extra support.
• Get the right vitamins and nutrients. Ever noticed one of your plants looking a little yellow? Then you fertilize it and it perks right up. Plants whose basic nutritional requirements are met look and feel better.
• Being healthy makes it easier to fend off pests. Even a spider mite magnet tomato plant withstands attacks better when the plant is healthiest. We all struggle when battling an improper diet, too much or too little water, inadequate lighting, weather extremes, etc.
• Remember to go out and shake the dust off once in a while. When dust gets thick enough on plants, they have trouble breathing. Some of the most interesting people I have met in my life will certainly never be dust collectors.
• Sometimes just sitting in the corner looking pretty is OK. This is a lesson I sometimes forget even though the peace lily in the corner is constantly reminding me. That plant has never put its foot in its mouth like I have.
• You can make more impact with others. Think about the sight of a single tree versus an entire forest, or a single rose compared to an entire rose garden. The strength and beauty of the whole is greater than that of the individual.
• Real is better than fake. I am referring to personalities here. Real live plants provide us with oxygen, filter pollutants from water and moderate the effects of temperature changes. Research has also shown that being in the presence of real plants help us relax and make us feel better while reducing pain and physical discomfort. People who are genuine may produce the same effect.
• Grow and bloom. Or more importantly, help someone else grow, and watch them bloom.
— Jennifer Smith is the Douglas County Extension Agent–Horticulture for K-State Research and Extension. She can be reached at 843-7058.