Houseplants and Happiness

Super cool succulents | PC: Kayla Potts

Super cool succulents | PC: Kayla Potts

There are some activities that simply don’t seem feasible in a dorm room, and one of these is gardening. While growing a large garden isn’t possible, growing a couple of plants is very doable. In this gray winter season, having plants can help to brighten your day and your dorm room by adding a bit of color and life.

Not only do the plants help to liven up your room, it’s possible that there are also health benefits that come with having plants in indoor spaces. A study done by the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine in Romania suggested that ornamental plants could provide psychological benefits such as improving attention and reducing stress levels.2 Another study also revealed that many indoor plants are also able to remove pollutants from the air which can cause asthma and nausea.1

Elizabeth McDonald, a senior theology major, grew up gardening with her father and has continued her love of growing plants through college. “He always had me planting plants and getting my hands in the dirt,” she said. “I loved it. And so when I came to college my freshman year, I was like ‘I need a plant. I desperately need a plant.’”

Elizabeth began with succulents and then moved onto larger, leafier plants. Now she has several that she cares for. “If you dorm by yourself, it kinda gives you a little color in your room and it gives you something to nurture,” Elizabeth says. “I think that it also teaches you discipline in the fact that you have to take care of it.”

She encourages other students to try their hand at growing their own plants even if they may believe that they can’t keep them alive.

“Really study the type of plant that you get,” she advises. When talking about her succulents, she said that she learned putting charcoal on the bottom of the pot helps to absorb excess water. “A lot of people overwater plants,” she said. “People either don’t water them at all or they water them a ton.”

Although caring for plants can be difficult, sometimes just figuring out where to start can be the hardest part. Luckily, there are many different plants for beginning indoor gardeners.

PC: Kayla Potts

PC: Kayla Potts

Spider plants, or airplane plants, are a very popular choice for houseplants and are ideal starting plants. As they grow, they develop small plantlets which hang down and appear like little spiders that can be easily planted and shared with friends. Spider plants were also shown to reduce indoor air pollution in a study from the New York Botanical Garden.3

Aloe vera is a type of succulent that is very easy to take care of and hard to kill. This is a plant that’s great if you want it to be practical as well as pleasing to the eye. Its spiky leaves not only look interesting, but the gel inside can be made into hair masks, used to moisturize the skin, or even mixed into smoothies.

Lucky bamboo is very sleek, grows quickly and requires little extra care. The plant can be a beautiful addition to one’s dorm room as many can be bought twisted into shapes or woven together. The lucky bamboo shape that you choose can be as simple or complex as you want.

Small houseplants cost very little to purchase and this small investment may bring a little joy into your everyday life. It may even become a new hobby that will last beyond your time at Union.

Amanda McCarter is a junior studying biomedical science.