Find out what houseplant fits your needs best

By Serina Taluja, Assistant Special Sections Editor

What’s leafy, green and cute all over? If you guessed houseplants, you are right. With winter in full swing and the sky a constant gloomy gray, it’s important to remind ourselves that even on the coldest days, there are ways to maintain a bright, happy living space and high spirits.

Indoor plants and home gardens are an option to do exactly that, but you don’t have to take my word for it. A 2015 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed interacting with plants leaves young adults feeling more calm and relaxed in general as opposed to interacting with technology that tends to leave young adults feeling distressed.

So, interacting with a plant is more likely to calm you down after a long week than kicking back and watching a flick on Netflix.

To some, plants may seem like a huge responsibility. Are you unsure as to where to start on a home garden? Have you killed plants in the past? Here are some tips to start your own sustainable home garden and keep it going through the winter and beyond.

What type of plant person are you?

If commitment is scary for you, just one plant might be your best option. If you like to dive into things more head on, an entire terrarium or herb kit might better hold your attention.

If you’re a person who tends to forget to water plants, succulents and cacti are the plants for you. These little guys are nearly indestructible as long as they have a relatively consistent light source. Some easy ones to start with are aloe vera or anything in the Echeveria genus.

If you tend to give your plants lots of love and attention, something like a leafy houseplant is probably best for you. Plants like ferns and vines grow great when they get a lot of love in the form of watering and moderate light.

If you’re unsure, I would recommend adopting an air plant. These are bizarre and with interesting habits, but if they are properly cared for, they can remain beautiful for a long time. Fun fact: Air plants don’t need soil.

When to water

Now that you have an idea of your plant type, let’s break down how much water different plants need. There are rules of thumb to follow depending on the plant type you choose.

Succulents should only be watered about once a week as mature adults. They really prefer being sprayed or misted, so their soil doesn’t get disturbed.

On the flip side, leafy houseplants only thrive if they are watered relatively often, like every day or every other day.

Air plants like to be left alone most of the time. Contrary to popular belief, misting is actually not something they prefer and can kill them. Instead, completely submerge air plants in a bowl of room-temperature water for about 30 minutes every week. Take them out, dry them off and put them back on display.

If you’re anything like me, watering plants is not always at the forefront of your mind while focusing on work, classes and everything in between. I would recommend writing down when you plan on watering your plants. Stay consistent and attentive.

When to fertilize

A little less urgent than watering habits are fertilizing habits. Some plants need to be fertilized to continue thriving, and others hardly need it at all.

For air plants, it’s important to fertilize them in the spring. There are lots of spray fertilizers that work great for this.

Both succulents and leafy plants can be fertilized or not, but if you’re going to fertilize them, it’s definitely better to do it in the spring because that’s when plants would normally require the compounds in the fertilizer if they were planted outside.

Where to put them

Placement is key for maintaining a home garden. It’s important to look up specifically how much light your plant will need, especially for leafy plants, since too much light can actually bleach their leaves.

Succulents are pretty standard in their light desires though: the more, the merrier. Succulents are more likely to grow fuller and in a more Instagram-worthy way if they are close to a strong light source, like a grow light or a window facing east or west.

Air plants are also pretty easy-going when it comes to light. They can grow well in a lot of sunlight and will often flower if they are placed in a bright window but will also continue to grow in shadier areas of your house or apartment.

No matter what type of plant person you are, happy growing. Remember: The more you tend to your plants, the more they tend to you.

Serina is a senior in LAS.

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