With the meagre furnishings of student houses, houseplants can transform even the most unattractive room into a tropical oasis! Not only are plants proven to improve indoor air-quality, purifying our living-space with the release of oxygen during photosynthesis, they also absorb gases such as CO2 and toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are found in plastics, fabrics, and cigarette smoke.
Houseplants are said to help improve mental health too. Not only does purer air have psychological benefits, but the colour green is said to induce feelings of calm, consequently reducing stress and anxiety. Plants can also help with depression. According to Garden Collage magazine, caring for plants comes with responsibility, giving many sufferers a sense of purpose and improving their confidence. So, houseplants have a lot more to offer than just their aesthetic appeal. Read on to find out about some of the most student-friendly houseplants that are sure to brighten up any room!
Not only does purer air have psychological benefits, but the colour green is said to induce feelings of calm, consequently reducing stress and anxiety.
Succulents are a student’s best friend. They are the stars of many edgy Instagram posts thanks to their aesthetic, intricate designs and pale pastel colours. They come in many varieties, from the bonsai-resembling jade plant to the decorative string of pearls; there’s sure to be one that takes your fancy!
They are the stars of many edgy Instagram posts thanks to their aesthetic, intricate designs and pale pastel colours.
As the name suggests, these plants are famous for their fleshy wax leaves that retain water, allowing them to thrive in arid climates. For this reason, succulents are very low-maintenance plants and require little care and attention. They need minimal water – they’ll easily survive with watering just once a fortnight – but they do need lots of light, so windowsills are ideal. Don’t risk over watering, make sure they’re potted in well-drained soil.
Succulents are easy to propagate too. Simply remove a leaf to grow a whole new plant – lay it on top of soil and it will form roots! Or, if your plant grows too tall and leggy over time, cut the rosette from the top and replant it to keep it small and neat. The remaining stem will grow its own little plants too, and if you’re lucky, your succulent might bloom with beautiful flowers!
If succulents sound too demanding, then cacti are even easier to keep. Native to desert climates, most cacti are also succulents, storing water in their stems for reserves. They make for the ideal student houseplant because they can be left for weeks, even months, without water – so, you don’t have to worry about bringing your plant home over the holidays! Give them a substantial amount when watering, waiting until completely dry before you water again.
Renowned for their spines, Cacti come in a range of varieties. Some of these will also flower as they mature. However, unlike succulents, cacti grow relatively slowly meaning they won’t start to take over your room or require re-potting.
Chinese Money Plant (Pilea Peperomioides)
Native to Southern China, this unusual plant belongs to the nettle family, and is easy to care for, but grows rapidly. The flat and leathery circular leaves can grow up to 10cm in diameter. The plant soon takes a spherical shape when the leaves grow in abundance. Like many house plants, these little beauties were very popular in the 70s, but have recently made a comeback!
Indirect sunlight is ideal for this plant, so don’t choose a window that’s too bright. Rotate every few days to ensure all your leaves receive plenty of light. While they grow quickly, they don’t require too much attention – they’ll likely only need a water once a week, but let the soil dry out completely between watering. They’re also easy to propagate from cuttings, and because they’re relatively difficult to find in a garden centre, they’ll make cute gifts!
This rapid growing plant is easy to tend, even for the least green-thumbed of us. The size of this plant will differ with age, but they can be contained by pruning. The long, variegated leaves also come in several varieties, usually a striped pale green with a darker outline, sometimes reversed. While they’re very adaptable to conditions in your home, they especially love humid climates, making them perfect for steamy bathrooms. Generally however, they prefer slightly cooler conditions to most plants, so when you’re not showering, a cold tiled bathrooms is ideal.
These plants love indirect light and partial shade. Occasionally their tips brown over time, a result of fluoride in tap water – you may want to use bottled water or rainwater if this happens frequently, making sure the soil is well-drained. On that note, they don’t need watering too often, every one to two weeks should be fine.
You may need to propagate spider plants. The mother plant grows small ‘spiders’ that hang over the pot and will likely flower too. While they’re quite a spectacle, they can get wild and unruly. These mini spiders can easily be cut from the plant and placed in a shallow glass of water where they’ll grow their own little roots!
Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera Deliciosa)
While they require a bit more care, these magnificent plants make a wonderful statement. Another 70s classic, this plant is famous for its heart-shaped, glossy leaves that form holes as they grow (hence the name, ‘swiss cheese’). Although they take up a lot of space, growing very tall as they mature, they take several years to reach full height. However, the swiss cheese is a climbing plant, so after time it will need some sort of support. The Monstera Obliqua, or ‘Monkey Mask’, is the smaller variant which is easier to control.
Another 70s classic, this plant is famous for its heart-shaped, glossy leaves that form holes as they grow (hence the name, ‘swiss cheese’).
The Swiss Cheese requires indirect light and partial shade – because they’re native to rainforests, too much light will damage the leaves. Allow the first few inches of topsoil to dry between watering but make sure they get plenty of water, as they would in their natural habitat! They also love humidity, so bathrooms are great environments. Alternatively, misting the leaves daily will have the same effect. Because of the large surface area of the leaves, dust can prevent photosynthesis so make sure you wipe the leaves occasionally.
Article images 3, 4 and 5 courtesy of Lilith Hudson.
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