I am not sure if you have pets, but if you do, you probably experienced the awesome feeling of that little creature missing you.
If you have a dog, it’s enough for you to go to the bathroom and you’ll be missed. Pets can get lonely and bored.
But… Can plants feel lonely?
The short answer is no, plants can’t feel lonely, at least not in the same sense we think of the word. They might be aware of each other, even aware of events occurring to them and around them, but plants can’t feel loneliness and don’t miss you in the same way a dog will miss you.
If that is true, then why do so many plant owners swear by plant heartache.
Why don’t house plants grow as well as they used to after you give them away?
Let me share a quick story that I am sure all of you are familiar with.
Two weeks ago my mother gave me back an Aloe Vera that has been with her in the last two months. Something interesting happened.
In the last two weeks, this plant has grown more than in the last two months at my mother’s house.
For those of you that don’t know, if the weather is good with plenty of sun, it takes about two weeks for the Aloe leaf to develop.
Living in the same conditions, that plant should have come back at least twice as big.
But it didn’t, and it’s not the first time I give a plant away and it stops growing so well.
Ask any careful plant owner, the plant goes away and it doesn’t grow as it should, then it comes back to the devoted owner that cares for it, amongst its peers and boom, it starts growing like crazy.
The reason why plants don’t thrive when you give them away is because they are removed from the conditions they’ve been accustomed too, not because they get lonely.
Plants don’t really like to be moved, especially if they have accommodated and doing well. You can read more about it in this detailed article I wrote on the subject.
So, how aware are plants? Could they even be aware of your emotions?
As previously mentioned, houseplants don’t experience loneliness or hearth ache when they don’t see you for a long time.
But does your favourite houseplant recognize you?
Can your favourite houseplant feel your emotions or your touch compared to some other persons?
Here’s why plants can’t feel your emotions:
Because plants have a very rudimentary nervous system, they can’t pick up on any visual, social or emotional cues the same way beings with more complex nervous system can.
So as far as we know, plants can’t feel your emotions, miss you or even recongnize you compared to any other person.
I know, I am heartbroken just thinking about it.
The reality is that in order for any organism to ‘feel’ and understand emotions, it needs a far more complex nervous system than plants have.
Yes, cells in a plant communicate through electrical signals, but a complex nervous system is much more than that.
Let’s forget the scientific mumbo jumbo for a second and talk about world experience here.
I feel it in my own gut that my plants know me. They surely miss my horrible singing voice.
But If I am honest to myself and think about it long enough, I see the evidence of the opposite every day.
Say your houseplant is not doing so well so you decide to give it away to someone.
Most likely the deciding factors if the plant is going to do better are the conditions and the experience of the next person.
I can personally attest to that because I did it tens if not hundreds of times. When I wasn’t experienced enough and gave my plants away to someone more experienced, my plants always did better after a while.
Can Plants Feel Lonely In Pots?
If they don’t recognise you, can your plants miss other houseplants? Especially in a pot.
Now, this is where it gets even more interesting:
Plants don’t feel lonely in a pot. Even though plants can communicate with each other and can have mutually beneficial relationships in pots, they can’t grow attached or understand loneliness. Their relationship stops at satisfying each others needs.
We do know that plants communicate via chemical signals either trough the air or through the soil, so, even though they share experiences, it’s not always beneficial.
Sibling plants grow in harmony together while mixed plants compete with each other, often making one not get enough nutrients while the other overpowers it.
Plants can do better in pairs, but keep in mind there is such a thing as too many houseplants.
As some of you may know, a sworn trick to get your houseplant flowering it is to put it near another houseplant, even if they aren’t in the same pot.
It sounds silly but I have personally experienced this a couple of times.
I was given a fully mature Peace Lilly that never flowered.
The plant was perfectly healthy with juicy green leaves and the only thing I did is put it in my living room near some buddies. Sure enough, in about two weeks it flowered with the most beautiful creamy-white petals possible.
Although plants seem to always do better in groups, there are plenty of examples that prove the opposite:
Ever wondered why Sunflowers are always grown together? Its root chemicals will stop other plants from growing and the seed shell can also kill other plants.
Making Your Houseplant Less Lonely
There is no such thing as too many plants, take it from the crazy plant lady.
Of course, to make your houseplant less lonely you can always get more plants in more pots, but I recommend you experiment with companion plants.
It doesn’t matter that they don’t share life stories, every plant should have at least one companion. The only thing that having more plants does to you is to help you both physically and mentally.
Of course, as I mentioned above, sometimes two’s a crowd, but there is a simple formula you can apply:
If you are less experienced I would suggest sticking to the one plant per pot rule and you are pretty much safe.
For the most part, common houseplants are very resilient. I know it might not look like that now, but believe me, once you get the hang of it they are tough to kill. That being said, If you want to grow two or more plants in the same pot, then, there is another simple rule to stick to:
The reason why they are called companion plants it’s because they like the same things and thus can share resources.
A simple example of this is a Succulent and Cactus. In fact, Succulents are famous companion plants.
Just a word of advice, companion plants in a single pot are expensive if you buy them outright. If you already have Succulents and Cacti, just propagate them in a great pot like this one. It’s the cheapest way to insure success.
If you don’t, no worries, I recommend these Succulents from Amazon as best value for money.
Cacti and Succulents like the same amount of light, nutrition, and water so they go very well together.
If you were to switch the cactus for something like a Fern, who wants more sun and more humid soil, it quickly becomes a competition and only one will win.
There are also plants that can make the soil in which they grow toxic, but that’s one for another day.
Do Your Houseplant's Feelings Matter?
So turns out your favourite houseplant doesn’t know you or care that you had a bad day at work.
Your houseplant can’t understand your feelings and it doesn’t have any itself, so where does this leave us?
Apart from being one of the most helpful organisms on the planet, plants can respond to the way they are being touched.
We know that it’s not the same for a plant to be touched by crisp raindrops as being stomped by a muddy boot. They communicate and respond to bad treatment, some of them can even fight back.
Plants can’t get lonely because they don’t have complex nervous system. That doesn’t make houseplants less amazing and helpful.
Stay kind and green.