Written by Emily Fox
Maybe you have green fingers or maybe you’re just starting out? Just like you, plants need to be fed, watered and cared for. Indoor plants are a great way to add colour and texture to your home and many houseplants are easy to look after, if they are given the appropriate care in order to thrive.
Not only are they beautiful, houseplants are good for your health. Why is this the case? They release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, which freshens the air and removes harmful toxins. Indoor plants have also been proven to improve concentration, reduce stress and boost your mood – making them perfect not only for your home, but your study spaces, too.
To sustain your own indoor garden, it’s useful to know a little about the best conditions for each of your houseplants.
Succulent houseplants are a popular, stylish statement plant for any university room. With a whole range of textures and colours to choose from, there is a succulent to suit each and everyone of us. Common succulents include Echeveria and the Jade Plant. These drought-tolerant plants often have thick leaves, which allow them to absorb water well.
Succulents need plenty of light. When growing them indoors, a bright location is essential such as a south facing wall or window sill. Grow them in compost and allow them to completely dry out between watering. Whilst succulents are used to extreme conditions, avoid drowning them in water particularly during the winter months, as this can kill them.
If you’re nervous about planting responsibilities, succulents are a great starter plant. They are pretty much self-sufficient, making them perfect for the forgetful student.
Cacti are some of the most unusual plants in the world, with a variety of striking green colour variations. It’s very easy to get hooked on these small beauties, wanting to collect all of the mini-cactus plants to display around your home. However, once they have been adopted, they need proper love and care. Caring for cacti isn’t a difficult task, but it is unique like the plant itself.
As cactus generally come from desert climates, they like locations with sun, sun, sun! But do beware, as even cactus have the ability to burn, especially if they are in direct sunlight behind a glass window. The window can magnify the sun’s impact and therefore a south-facing window is ideal. If you find your cactus is starting to turn a yellow or brown colour, it may need to be placed in a different spot to allow it to cool down.
Much like succulents, cacti require draining compost and water is a vital component enabling them to grow. A good rule to stick by is making sure the soil is dry between watering. This will stop the roots becoming waterlogged or rotting. During the winter season, you can cut back on the watering, as they are receiving less direct sunlight and there are cooler night temperatures. During the summer period, cactus can benefit from fertiliser to provide an extra boost of key nutrients. This can be applied lightly with every watering, as they prefer small doses.
Before repotting your cactus, choose a pot with drainage holes in as this will prevent stagnant water pooling at the bottom. When you choose to repot your cacti, wear thick gloves when removing the plant from its original pot to avoid pricking yourself.
Snake plants, known as Sansevierias in the plant world, are a popular choice and are modern, easy-care houseplants. Whether placed indoors or in your garden, these tough, sharp leaved plants can put up with most conditions, will tolerate neglect and are generally low maintenance. They are versatile and do well in a bathroom environment as they are fond of humidity.
Sansevierias have a slow to medium growth rate. In strong natural light, they will grow faster than in a lower light setting. Take it easy and be cautious when watering – this is essential when caring for a snake plant. Overwatering will lead to a rotting plant, so ensure the soil dries completely before it is watered again. In winter, these plants should be watered less often as there is low sunlight and it gives the plant a chance to rest. On a general note, it is wise to water your snake plants every 2-8 weeks. Of course, this may vary depending on where you choose to place your plant, as well as the type of soil and the pot size.
Also, there’s no need to rush and repot snake plants as they like smaller spaces for their roots. So, if you’re a busy bee, this is the ultimate plant for you.
Despite the creepy-crawly name, the spider plant is a classic of the houseplant world. The spider plant has been a common indoor plant for decades because it’s adaptable and easy to take care of!
While spider plants can grow under most conditions they are faced with, there are some things to consider if you would like your plant to thrive. Spider plants do best in fast-draining soil, are partial towards bright light, and lean themselves towards direct sunlight. Water them frequently in the summer months and mist them occasionally. There’s absolutely no need to buy an expensive mister – you can do this cheaply as a student. Simply buy a plastic spray bottle from Wilko or your local garden centre. In winter, cut back on the watering.
Spider plants grow quickly and will develop young plantlets. Top tip: pot these plantlets into smaller pots as a perfect small token of appreciation for your friends!
As a general rule of thumb, all plant roots stay restricted to the pot they are in. Ensure you place them in a bigger pot to allow growth. However, try not to choose the largest pot you can find, as this will mean it will take a long time for the water to be absorbed by the roots. Also, roots are often fragile, so be careful when repotting into larger pots.
Once you learn how to take care of houseplants, you’ll no longer need to be afraid that you’ll kill one. Houseplants are an inexpensive way to brighten up even the dullest of rooms and we wish you every success in growing your collection!