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The benefits of houseplants

By Hollie Moxham

Monday 27 November 2017 Student journalists

Today’s student is streaming Attenborough on Netflix and eating avocado on toast. We have glittered cheeks and the latest iPhone, but we are still interested in sustainability and wellness. Our latest savvy student trend incorporates both – in the form of the humble houseplant.

If you happened to wander across the busy campus of the University of Plymouth on 14 November, you would have passed the student union houseplant sale. A jumble of emerald leaves and blooming flowers. Piles of colourful pots. Lines of beaming students, cradling their chosen peace lily or jade plant. The same can be seen on campuses across the UK.

There are numerous benefits to adopting a houseplant into your student home. They can be incredibly good for your health, both mentally and physically. They are also great for improving air quality and increasing humidity, making you less likely to become sick.

A plant can reduce stress, increase concentration, and help you remember more – invaluable assistance when exam season hits. And there’s good news if you’re sick of your neighbours throwing a party every other night – some research suggests that plants can ‘absorb’ background noise, making that bass-heavy music a little less of a headache.

Many students may be nervous about the responsibility of caring for a living thing, but that’s the best part. There are so many types of houseplant available to buy, and some of them are really easy to keep.

Always busy with lectures and society events? Get a plant that only needs watering a couple of times a month. Living in a small flat with very little space? Get a tiny plant that won’t need repotting. Find yourself rushing out in the morning without opening the curtains? Get a plant that doesn’t mind darker spaces. For every kind of student, there’s a perfect type of plant.

To help with your decision, here are five of the most popular student houseplants.

1. Spider Plants

Spider plants are common houseplants because they are easy to keep and can live in a range of conditions. They prefer cooler temperatures and bright but indirect light. Be cautious with watering, and you’ll have a beautiful plant that will excel at cleaning the air. If you’re lucky, they may even make little white flowers in the summer!

2. Peace Lily

As fans of Hot Fuzz will know, peace lilies are excellent for purifying air and require relatively little maintenance. Place them somewhere with medium or low light and water them when their soil is dry. Be aware that these plants may eventually need repotting, and stay aware of dust building up on their leaves – this can be washed with a damp cloth. A medium light source is a good choice if you want to see those iconic white ‘flowers’.

3 . Aloe

If carefully looked after, aloe can live for many of years, so they’re a perfect long-term study companion. Ensure you have an indoor species and find them somewhere dry and bright to live. They like well-drained soil and need to be kept away from any pets, as they are toxic to cats and dogs. If you’re interested in the health benefits of aloe vera gel, you might even be able to harvest it from this plant.

4 . Ivy

Ivy plants can grow long and lovely, if they are given the right care. You’ll need to have an indoor variety, and importantly find them somewhere bright and light, and preferably dry. They like well-drained soil and will need to be fertilised once a month. Dust can build up on their leaves, so you may wish to wash them occasionally. Also, be aware that ivy may fall dormant in winter. Although ivy plants may seem to require more maintenance than others, they can be beautiful additions to a home, and will grow fast.

5. Rubber Plant

Rubber plants are one of the most common houseplants. They can grow up to 50ft and are very easy to care for. Find them somewhere with bright but indirect light, and water them once or twice a month. You may like to dampen their leaves with a cloth or spray. Try to find a younger variety of this plant, as they will adapt better to an indoor space.

Spider plants, peace lilies, aloe, ivy and rubber plants are some of the most popular choices of houseplants, but the list is endless. If you haven’t found a plant that’s right for you, why not approach your student union and ask if they’re holding a houseplant sale soon. If they are, you can ask the experts there, and get a great deal on a plant for your home. If not, why not suggest organising one?

I’m Hollie and I’m a third year Animation student at Plymouth College of Art. I was born in Bristol but I also lived in Bahrain for five years. When I was younger, I always used to tell people I wanted to be an author or artist – and I still have those ambitions! I love making 2D animation, but I also like writing about all sorts of topics, and one day I would love to write a book.