Biological clock ticking as women debate becoming plant moms

Who needs a devil child when you can grow a Devil’s ivy instead?

Last Tuesday, I walked into a plant nursery in downtown Toronto looking for a money plant for my newly furnished apartment. I went up to the counter, hoping this money plant could potentially pay for itself. The customer ahead of me was working through a series of questions that caught my attention. “Have you nurtured this bud since it was a seedling?” I could hear her asking.

I looked behind me and the queue had already been filled with several people carrying various species of plants as if they were babies, balancing them on their waists while caressing their leaves.

The clerk, growing tired of the woman’s questions, told her that he would attend to her later. The woman rolled her eyes and carried her Golden Devil’s Ivy to the side. I quit the line and approached her, hoping to make use of my journalistic abilities.

Asha Lilac, a young plant mom, was about to adopt a new child and welcome it into her home.

“I have about nine plants back home. They are all the apples of my eyes, especially my Dwarf Ming Aralia, Barberton Daisy and Birds of Paradise,” she said, as she pulled out her phone filled with pictures of her plants.

As her fingers glided over the glass screen, I could only see a blur of bright colours and feel her judging my poor choice in picking a money plant.

My eyes wandered upon my plant and I thought to myself how much work it is taking care of a single plant, let alone nine.

Lilac said her plant mom lifestyle stresses her out 24/7. “At first, I wasn’t giving them the right fertilizer for their age group or the right temperature of water,” she said. “You have to be careful about those things. My babies only drink spring water.”

“When I first became interested in plants, I was so nervous because I wasn’t financially independent then,” she continued. “I thought taking care of a plant that early in my career could destroy my job prospects.”

As a single plant mom, Lilac said she faces significant judgement from society.

“Sure, if you’re a couple, everyone thinks it's cute to get a jade plant, but if you’re single, you just seem to be handling it all alone,” she said. “I mean, it is a lot of work to be the only one changing its fertilizers.”

Lilac said her life changed when her mom gifted her her first plant, whom she calls Jon Snow, during the first snowfall in December 2018.

“When she got me Jon, I thought: That’s it, my life is ruined,” Lilac said. “But Jon made me a better person. I just want to be with him all the time. I’m so happy that I didn’t decide to return him.”

A huge struggle of being a plant mom for Lilac is that leisure time becomes virtually nonexistent. “I still try to take some time for myself, but I feel really guilty about it,” she said. “When I go on vacation though, my mom takes care of her grandchildren.”

Soon enough, her mother, Mrs. Karen Lilac, entered the plant nursery pushing an empty stroller. Her daughter gently nestled her golden pothos in the seat, adjusting the belt over its leaves. I took this opportunity to dig further into what was happening. Are women now choosing plants over children?

“I thought giving her a plant was one of the worst decisions I could have made. She’s 21 years old, she’s still young,” Karen said. “Taking care of a plant is a full-time job.”

“She always had a big heart, no wonder she adopted more plants,” she continued. Karen is an experienced plant mom herself, having grown 23 plants and one daughter.

Deep into the conversation, I could feel someone’s eyes on us. I turned around to see a young woman holding her plant in the same way I was, carelessly against her chest, slightly compressing the leaves.

“Sorry! I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but taking care of plants sounds so stressful. I mean, I’m a new mom myself,” she said hesitantly. “I’m really scared, I know you can photo sympathize,” she continued, as she passed a wink to the Lilacs, who immediately encircled her, cooing over her Asparagus Fern.

As I listened to these women, I looked down at my money plant and wondered: Am I ready to commit to this? After gazing at it for a few moments, I realized I can’t even commit to a dating app, let alone a plant. I slowly backed away from the women, placed the plant back on its shelf, bid it farewell and grabbed an artificial succulent.

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