There’s a Demetri Martin joke that runs through my head whenever I look at my sad windowsill of browning, bloated succulents.

About a month ago I got a cactus. A week later, it died. I was really depressed because I was like ‘Damn! I am less nurturing than a desert.'”

As a millennial I am legally required to have at least six cactuses in my residence at all times, but I haven’t ever gotten the hang of “caring for them.” My plants are technically alive, but more in the “surviving” than the “thriving” sense. It’s like the root rot ward of a plant hospital over here. 

I want my apartment to look like the lush set of a Kinfolk photo shoot! I really do! I’ve got a plant-a-month habit, shopping for greenery as an aspirational activity! There’s no surface area that I haven’t covered with aloe vera plants that will, over the course of the next 12 months, shrivel in on themselves because I have simultaneously under and over watered them. 

As it turns out, much like children, raising plants takes a village. And when I turned to my plant-loving pal Kerri (who just released a very funny€”and very NSFW€”Dr. Bonnie spoofing video, by the by) for help, she delivered, with a recommendation for an app that will help me be the cactus parent I’ve always dreamed of being.

It’s called Planta, and it’s already helped me step up my indoor-gardening game. You log the light exposure in the the different areas of your home, and add the variety of plants you’re keeping there and in what kind of container, and then app will helpfully tell you that you’re killing them because you don’t live in a south-facing condo unit and also because you forgot that “drainage” was a “thing.”

Once you adjust the abysmal living conditions of your plants by repotting them and/or moving to a building that gets more sun, Planta will ping you when each plant needs to be watered or tended to, taking into account the light, the local temperature, the last watering date and the needs of the plant. Apparently my watering schedule of “whenever I’m procrastinating on an article” was a little much! Who knew!

You can name each plant and take a picture, so whenever you get a notification to soak that soil, it’s like your Weeping Fig is texting you. Fun! Kerri’s collection of plants, for example, are all named after famous divas€”Mariah the Fern is apparently very demanding. 

I’m only a week in but already it feels like I’ve levelled up this black thumb to at least an off-colour-sage thumb. If we’ve learned anything from being house-bound in this pandemic, it’s that communication is what every relationship needs to thrive… and apparently that goes for plants too.

Planta, free for iPhone; additional features with a premium subscription available