Houseplant Parenting: Livening up your living space in college

The pandemic plant trend has surged across the nation as people search for hobbies while in isolation. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

Houseplants have seen a surge in popularity recently. Some people might only have a few, while others have an indoor jungle taking over their living room. However, when you are just starting out, becoming a plant parent is a daunting endeavor. How do I know what to buy? How often do I water it? Is this plant really kill-proof?

College students have enough to worry about — stressful classes, part-time jobs and extracurriculars — so the last thing they need is a finicky plant. Plants, however, are the perfect addition to any college house, apartment or even dorm. While the dorms and many college rentals don’t allow pets, plants bring life to any space and are a valuable thing to care for. They are air purifiers, oxygen providers and interesting to look at. Many plants are also proven to help boost serotonin, memory and concentration.

When first starting out, it can be difficult to choose. The perfect college houseplant should check three boxes: easy to care for, inexpensive and able to grow in a variety of settings. Above all, you don’t need to travel far to find a plant for your home. Any of these plants can be found at a home improvement store, especially in springtime.

Coming in at first place is the ever-popular and vining pothos. These twisting, turning plants come in several varieties, such as marble, neon and plain green. Pothos can easily tolerate low to medium light but thrives in bright, indirect light. Only needing water once every 1-2 weeks (depending on how much light it receives), pothos are great for busy schedules. You can let them grow long or trim them back for a fuller plant.

The second is the snake plant. Recognized by its tall stalks and zebra-like stripes, the snake plant is fool-proof. It only needs water about once a week and tolerates multiple light conditions, making the snake plant an easy start. They can grow in any light level but thrive in bright, indirect light.

The third is bamboo, a stalk-like plant that can easily be forgotten. Fill up an old jar (glass sauce jars are perfect for this) with water and put the bamboo stalks in. Keep in low to medium light, and that’s it. The only care needed is changing the water every couple of weeks or if it gets exceptionally dirty. Bamboo is also considered lucky, so it’s a win-win situation.

Lastly — and potentially the most popular — are the succulents and cacti. These desert plants come in a wide array of sizes, colors and shapes, so there is definitely one for every college setting. These little plants don’t need much water and can easily be put in front of a window. You can buy just one or multiple to make an arrangement.

If your college rental doesn’t allow pets (or even if it does), adding a plant really makes a difference! However, if you do have pets, make sure to research what plants might be toxic for animals.

Watch how a room instantly brightens up and how you, too, can jumpstart your own indoor jungle.