Flourish in college with these low-maintenance plants

By Sydney Wood, buzz assistant editor

As we look forward to this upcoming fall semester, it can be scary and difficult for new students to adjust to college life. It’s important for incoming students to furnish their dorms and apartments with homey decor to add color and life to any living space. Plants are one of the best ways to increase one’s positivity and productivity, so here’s a list of low-maintenance plants to add to your dorm essentials checklist.

Snake Plant (Sansevieria)

Snake plants, also known as sansevierias or Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, are characterized by their thick, sword-like leaves that bear a scaly pattern and yellow-ish edges. Sansevierias are perfect for those living in apartments and dorms because they remove toxins, like formaldehyde, from the air, essentially making them air purifiers. They also release oxygen throughout the night, unlike other plants that perform photosynthesis during the day, making them ideal household plants.

Snake plants flourish in moderate to bright indirect sunlight, but they also tolerate low light and withstand full sun. The hardy plants can handle temperatures ranging from 55-85 degrees, and they don’t require any extra humidity. Sansevierias don’t require too much water, and a common mistake people make is overwatering them, resulting in mushy brown stalks and root rot. To prevent overwatering, ensure all the soil within the pot is completely dry before watering your plant again.

Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena Sanderiana) 

Lucky bamboos are flexible, durable plants that are distinguishable by their green vertical stalks and hollow stems. This strong, fast-growing plant has a lot of symbolism and represents upright growth, nobility and flexibility. As we begin next semester, it’s always good to have some extra luck on our side, especially with COVID-related stressors and general college stress. Lucky bamboos are easy to care for. They’re also aesthetically pleasing and provide a subtle green element to any dorm or apartment.

Lucky bamboo grows best in temperatures ranging from 65-95 degrees. These low-maintenance, easy-to-care-for plants can be grown in water or soil and prefer partial shade or indirect sunlight. If you’re growing your bamboo in soil, keep the soil slightly damp and don’t overwater or dry out the plant. If growing your plant in water, ensure the roots are always covered with water and replace the water every seven to 10 days for optimal growth. Avoid placing the plant in direct sunlight to prevent scorching its leaves.

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)

Despite their unsettling name, Spider plants are one of the most popular and adaptable houseplants, perfect for any dorm or bedroom. Popular spider plant varieties, including the zebra plant, Hawaiian spider plant and variegatum, are characterized by their slender, grassy green-and-white-striped leaves that dangle from the plant-like spider legs. Spider plants are often grown as hanging plants because of the plants’ cascading nature but will grow fine as long as their leaves aren’t crushed and the plant remains balanced.

Spider plants prefer bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can scorch the plants’ leaves, so avoid placing them in areas where the sun directly hits the plant. Spider plants should have well-drained soil but prevent the plant from becoming too soggy. The plant prefers cooler temperatures between 50-65 degrees and should be protected from drafts from air conditioning vents. Brown tips are an indication of low humidity; to maintain adequate levels of humidity, you should regularly mist the plants.

Pothos (Epipremnum Aureum) 

Pothos, also called Devil’s Ivy due to their invasive nature, have cascading vines that bear waxy, heart-shaped leaves and come in many different varieties, such as the Golden, Hawaiian and Marble Queen pothos. Like the snake plant, pothos function as air purifiers that remove indoor air pollutants, like carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, from a room. You can also use support systems, like command hooks, to train these fast-growing plants to climb along a wall or bookshelf.

Pothos plants are low maintenance and durable, and they thrive in both well-lit and low-lit areas. These plants tolerate a wide range of temperatures, but they grow best between 70-90 degrees. Pothos prefer dry soil, so water the plant enough to keep the soil slightly damp. Soggy soil can cause root rot, so avoid overwatering your pothos. Yellow leaves indicate there is too much water, and the amount of water your pothos need can depend on the season.

As you rush to purchase your own plant companion for your future dorm or apartment, don’t forget to support local businesses by checking out some of Champaign-Urbana’s plant shops, like Plant Mode and Plantify.

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