nature /ˈnāCHər/, n.

The words are generally arranged in contrast to the other: nature vs. nurture. Other times, they become a question, Nature or nurture? For me, more recently, the words have been flipped and one has become the direct object of the other: Nurture nature. Nature in this case means succulents.

Whenever I enter periods of high stress, I tend to search for outlets to channel my energy. This has typically meant funneling my energy into someone or something else, going out of my way to take care of it and see it to a better state, however that might take shape.

After moving into my own apartment five(?!) months ago, I told myself that I would buy at least one thing each month that would help transform my mostly empty space into a place that felt more like home.

When I first moved in, I bought a couch with my roommate and hung up my Christmas lights in my room. In June, I bought magnetic key holder shaped like a cloud.

Photo by Courtney Cheng

On Amazon Prime Day in July, I bought pillows and pillowcases for my couch, even though they weren’t any special Prime discount offer items at the time.

In August, I bought myself some succulents, and on a grocery run in September, I decided that because I was an adult, I had the right to buy mini pumpkins and gourds to decorate my space for autumn.

My decorations have brought me an immense amount of quiet joy. I’m deeply fond of somewhat hipster, cute, kitschy things. Ordering these items off Amazon and waiting for them to arrive have felt like mini Christmases or monthly treat yo’self days.

These decorations, however, are also low maintenance. I just need to make sure they don’t break or fall off my walls, and all is well.

My succulents on the other hand, have not been faring quite so happily. When I first bought Rosie, I named her for her bright pink tips, and I chose her because she had such fat little petals.

Photo by Courtney Cheng

Don’t worry, Rosie is still very much alive today. She’s just not received the best love from me in recent months.

When I bought her, I put her on the windowsill, thinking that just being by the window would be enough for her. I watered her once a week and made sure her pot could drain so she wouldn’t drown — but it wasn’t quite the care Rosie needed to remain her pretty, pink-tipped self.

Photo by Courtney Cheng

I recently had the chance to re-pot her (with her new friend, Steinbeck in the background), and didn’t have the greatest time of it. One of her leaves fell off on the side not photographed and another ripped in the process. Rosie’s only a plant, but I still felt terrible for mistreating her, because that was when I also noticed she no longer had any of her lovely pink tips anymore.

Life has been busy and the sun has been decreasing the amount of time it shows its face each day, so I should be happy that Rosie is alive and thriving, but that isn’t enough. I might be stressed, but my succulents should not be suffering for my own lack of care.

Learning how to take care of a succulent, a living thing that cannot express its wants, has been difficult. Every day, I do a little more research about watering strategies and plant-friendly lightbulbs for when you have no plant-friendly windows in your apartment, but it’s paid off. Only a week into my new succulent project, I can already see that Rosie is standing a little taller and reaching a little less further for light.

Photo by Courtney Cheng

My gourds are undoubtedly far more low-maintenance than Rosie or Steinbeck will ever be, but I’ve found a sort of peace in tending to my succulents each day. They teach me to be patient as they heal and grow, and I look forward to when Rosie might regain her pink tips again.

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