Phalaenopsis and Pelargonium flowers. Photo is for decorative purposes only, as it doesn't really relate to the content of this post.
In order to keep this from happening, or at least not let things get too bad, I've started to look for causes and cures.
- I have too many plants. Well, this is the major issue. I fully admit that I have too many plants indoors in the wintertime. Succulents make up one third of my collection, and most of them spend the warm months outdoors. Taking care of them outdoors is a breeze; they can be watered en masse with the hose, if they need watering at all, and just being outside in the summer is a pleasure for me. Indoors, they add a lot of time and effort to my routine, and my house looks overcrowded. Since, so far, I have not been prepared to significantly reduce the numbers of plants, I know that this something I just have to handle with the best grace I can.
- I have too many high-maintenance plants. While this is not the case right now, having to deal with large numbers of fussy plants that need special treatment (temperatures other than normal household temps, frequent watering, high humidity) has driven me to despair in the past.
- I have large tasks that need to be done all at once. One example of such a task is when a sudden dip in temperatures in the fall leaves me compelled to bring all plants that have been outdoors back in at once. Making a mad scramble to get things in, making sure that they are free of outdoor insects, and finding a place for everything can wear me down and make me wonder why I bother at all.
- I have non-plant related sources of stress. Sometimes things don't go well in life. Personal problems of all kinds can sap my energy and make plant chores the last thing I feel like doing.
- I give myself permission to be imperfect. Not all my plants are going to look beautiful all the time. Everything has its ups and downs. I remind myself that most plant tasks can be postponed for a few days without serious consequences. But even if such consequences occur, I am not a bad person if a plant suffers a setback or even it one dies.
- I give myself permission to throw plants away. If a plant is struggling and it will take more time, effort, and valuable growing space than I think it is worth to save it, it is okay to throw it away. If a plant is buggy, and it will take major work to eliminate the infestation (and there is always a risk that it will spread) it is okay to throw it away. If I just plain don't like a plant, for whatever reason, it is okay to throw it away. Really. Allowing myself to do this has probably been the biggest plant-related stress reliever of them all.
- I revel in my easy-care plants. Most collectors have a plant or two that looks great no matter what. Barring that, there is probably a plant that looks great right now. I try to enjoy that plant to the fullest. If I can do so without upsetting it, I move it to a prominent spot where I and others can appreciate its beauty. It reminds me why I love plants, that they are a joy, not a burden. That leads me to the following:
- Relax. I try to make caring for my plants a relaxing activity. I remind myself that this is a hobby I chose because I enjoy it.
By the way, this post was not motivated because I am suffering burnout right now. While I do find this time of year a mite stressful as a plant hobbyist, because these darkest days of winter can be stressful for the plants, I am actually quite happy with the way things are going these days.
A belated Happy Solstice to everyone. Things can only get brighter from here on!