Lessons Learned in First-Year Herbology

As a proud Hufflepuff, I don’t think my Head of House would be too pleased if I didn’t take at least some interest in plants. I’ve never had a green thumb, but I decided to change this about a year ago after visiting a friend.

Walking into her apartment was like entering some kind of magical plant paradise. Houseplants of varying sizes and personalities greeted me from every direction; they lived on her bookshelves and on windowsills, they sat grouped around her hearth, and they draped serenely from hanging planters. I was mesmerized by the aesthetic appeal, so I asked if she would help me get started with a few starter cuttings.

Little did I know that these would more than beautify my home. I love greeting my plants each day and checking in to see how they’re doing, what they need, and whether or not they’re putting out new growth. I finally understand Neville’s affinity for Herbology. Taking care of plants has boosted my mental health, and each leaf has been a source of comfort during this pandemic. I can’t wait for warmer weather when I can garden outside in the fresh air.

I’m no expert, but I’ve learned a few things over the last year by trial and error, through research, and from fellow Herbologists. I want to share this experience with others who may be looking for a new, easy, and calming hobby that can be started in isolation. Since I’ve felt like a student again, I thought I’d compile a list of lessons in plant care learned over my first year in Herbology.

 

 

 

Jump right in!

It’s not like you’re diving headfirst into Devil’s Snare. If you imagine yourself as one of Pomona Sprout’s students (and I strongly suggest you find a “professor” to offer guidance), it becomes easier to get past the initial insecurity that new hobbies often bring. I was wary of getting into gardening knowing that I had let plants die in the past, but by taking the time to read up and following others’ advice, I was able to give my plants an environment in which they could thrive. I’m still not perfect, but that’s not the goal. This is a classroom, not the Quidditch pitch. Simply trying your best will earn House points.

 

Skip One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi.

At first, I felt intimidated by all the terms my green-thumbed friends could list off. I soon found that I didn’t need a massive lexicon to successfully raise plants. What’s fortunate is that you don’t need to memorize the properties of plants like Harry, Ron, and Hermione did for Herbology and Potions classes. I’ve found that it is easy to find success by starting small before branching out. My friend started me out with an assortment of cuttings of different types of pothos, a relatively easy plant with many varieties needing similar care.

 

 

 

Cast Lumos and Aguamenti carefully.

The best advice I could give other first-year Herbology students is to be mindful of how you cast Lumos and Aguamenti. Some plants, such as Hoyas, only need occasional watering. Especially while being homebound, it’s all too easy to pay so much attention to plants that they get overwatered. In addition to moisture levels, it’s important to carefully consider how much light a plant sees. Plants in direct sunlight will photosynthesize more, so they will spend more spell energy; therefore, you may need to conjure more water for these plants.

 

Plants are magical.

If you’ve ever wanted to glimpse real magic, look no further than gardening. By bringing live plants into my home and garden, I’ve found that they really do communicate with you, such as when they need more water or see too much sun. I love seeing the effects of my plants’ movement as they reach toward the light, and I’ve even heard leaves rustle as they open and close during the day. You don’t need to put a Venomous Tentacula in your home to see plants move; instead, I’d recommend a calathea.

 

 

 

Gardening brings us together.

Social distancing isn’t easy, but since becoming a Herbology student, I have found that plants can help keep me connected. This hobby unlocked doors to new friendships as I’ve sought advice. My plants themselves have become like my familiars. I’ve even started to experiment with propagation; many of my pothos have matured enough to where I can share cuttings with friends, which has been a fun way to feel connected and adopt a giving spirit.

 

 Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.(Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

I find the light in keeping busy by learning something new. This is a difficult time, but in my opinion, one of the best things that can be done right now is to be mindful of the little things that count and share new experiences with others. I encourage others to join me in Herbology this Spring and Summer. I welcome all to post about this new journey with #HerbologyFirstYears.

Jennifer Fancher

I'm a Hufflepuff married to a Ravenclaw, and we have a Ravenclaw puppy. I have a B.A. in English education. I'm passionate about technology, musical theater, and dogs.