(Published in The Bison student newspaper Apr. 2021)
It’s officially Spring and everything is returning to life.
Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping in the trees, green is everywhere and students are torn between the desire to embrace the beautiful weather, and the ever present need to study for fast-approaching final exams.
Taking textbooks and laptops outside blends the best of both worlds, but sometimes it might not be a feasible solution, or simply be too distracting, forcing students to retreat to the bland boredom of their dorm room desks.
But what if there was a way to bring the beauty of Spring time indoors right to the study desk?
Enter, the potted plant. A small taste of the joy and life of Spring brought indoors to brighten the stress of late-night study hours.
Growing plants has been an increasing trend during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The data about how Covid-19 will impact industry business such as greenhouses and florists is still being gathered, according to IBIS World.
Yet the trend toward potted plants reflected in the first-hand testimonials of some greenhouse owners, who report increased sales, is clear, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The long-term impact of this trend on the industry remains unknown, however.
Despite its popularity, hopping on the plant-growing trend can be intimidating. Jokes about needing two green thumbs, or of killing yet another plant can make it seem impossible to successfully keep a potted plant alive without a large amount of needless stress.
There’s hope left, though.
Not all plants are hard to raise.
Students who want to add a little Spring green to their dorm rooms simply need to choose a beginner-friendly plant to raise that is also well suited to the kind of light that naturally occurs in their dorm room or apartment.
Just don’t forget to make sure that neither you nor any of your roommates are allergic to the plant that you decide to get. Constant sneezing isn’t a fun way to spend the semester.
The following are a few suggestions, as well as where they tend to thrive best, and a few guidelines on how to care for them.
This is arguably the easiest kind of plant to raise. And, bonus: they’re inexpensive.
Technically a kind of cactus, succulents are desert plants used to a lot of sunlight and not a lot of water.
So, they’re one of the least likely plant types to accidentally kill if you forget to water them once or twice—just make sure to keep them near a window where they can get lots of sunlight.
Not a single plant variety, but rather a whole category, succulents include everything from aloe vera—the plant that gives us skin irritation-soothing aloe vera gel—to hens and chicks, which are adorably tiny and multiply all on their own as quickly as their name suggests.
Since hens and chicks are constantly producing new plants, you can easily repot the new hens and chicks as they grow, creating a perfect fun, easy, and costless gift.
Some succulent varieties flower in big beautiful blooms, adding even more color to your room.
For everything you need to know about growing succulents, check out “Succulents For Beginners – Basic Succulent Plant Care Guide” on gardeningknowhow.com.
To purchase them, visit just about any greenhouse.
Cheap, small and short-lived, violas are a fun option for the student desiring bright colored blooms and a minimal time commitment.
Like succulents, viola is a categorical term. Two of the most common plants within this category are pansies and violets, both plants that provide rich swatches of brilliant color when they bloom in Spring or Fall.
To get the best experience, purchase the flower before it has bloomed yet, in order to enjoy the benefits of watching it unfurl in your dorm room, since they are not likely to survive the summer, due to their nature as annual plants—ones that must be replanted every year.
The low cost and high-color payoff make them worth the purchase, and they’re readily available everywhere from Walmart to most local greenhouses, for as little as three dollars.
To learn more about them, check out “How to Grow Violas” on The Spruce’s website.
African violets are stunning and small, but they require a much higher level of skill and care than either succulents or violas. Proper watering and regular fertilizing are important to their welfare.
According to The Spruce, these violets need to be watered from the bottom and are sensitive to cold water.
And according to the African Violet Society of America, they should be fertilized every time they are watered.
Indirect sunlight is best for these plants. So, putting them right in front of your dorm window might make the intense Oklahoman sunlight too much for them to take, unless your window faces away from the sun most of the day.
The most advanced plant option on this list, growing African Violets is not for the faint of heart, but their almost continual blooms can bring a lot of joy.
If you’re still at a loss about where to start, try going to a greenhouse or local plant sellers’ and speaking in person with the staff there.
Many employees at these businesses are passionate about plants and enjoy making plant recommendations and explaining how to care for the plants that they sell, especially at local greenhouses.
Bayly Botanicals, on Main Street in downtown Shawnee, is another popular spot to pick up leafy greens without ever leaving town.