When it comes to plants and their various needs, the thought of owning one can seem overwhelming, especially for students with a hectic college schedule. This college plant care guide includes all the basics to get you started.
Why buy a plant?
There are several reasons students should own plants. For Lori Watson, owner of Mill Creek Greenhouses, it is the comfort of having green plants around you.
"It's mood-boosting," Watson said. "I can forget quickly about what just happened in the last hour when I'm [in the greenhouse]."
She said keeping your hands busy can be a distraction from life’s stressors.
Owner of Gardener’s Outpost Randall Isherwood said plants can be beneficial if students keep them near their desks or even their beds.
“Plants can lower allergens in the air; they increase oxygen levels in the air,” Isherwood said.
He said he recommends setting a plant on your desk to help improve the air while studying and placing a snake plant by your bed. The snake plant releases oxygen at night, unlike other plants that release oxygen during the day.
Where to shop
Mill Creek Greenhouses on Leesburg Road is one option for students to shop at. Watson has run the greenhouse for 15 years.
“Until you get your hands in soil; into the plants; into cutting back; into pruning; you don't learn about the plants,” Watson said.
Another shop is Gardener's Outpost, located on Woodrow Street. It has been owned and operated by Randall Isherwood since 2012.
“Back in the day when I was a kid, I just liked being outside all the time. And then it grew from there," Isherwood said.
Not only does Gardener's Outpost have a variety of houseplants, but it will also pot your new plant for you by request.
Gardener's Outpost store manager Christie McDaniel, who has been employed with the store since last year, said anyone is welcome to call them with plant questions.
Picking the perfect plant
When picking out a plant, Isherwood said to look at its overall color.
"[Look at] the shape of it; any damage ... Make sure it has a little bit of new growth,” Isherwood said.
He also said to look out for any bugs and discolored leaves, as these are signs of an unhealthy plant.
Watson said to find a plant that best fits your schedule. For someone who doesn't have a lot of time, she said a succulent might be a good option. For people who have time every day or once a week to care for something, the options are more open.
Caring for your plant
Typically, most plants can be watered once every two weeks, whereas others require water more often. Some plants also require more light than others.
Isherwood said he recommends plants with big leaves for low lit areas because the leaves' size allow it to absorb more light. Watson said as soon as it is warm enough, plants should go outside, even for a short time, as they can become a totally different plant depending on their environment.
According to Watson, yellowing leaves are a sign of both over- and under-watering. She said dried out plants are more likely to revive and start growing again once they get water, but overwatered plants cannot be revived.
McDaniel said students should pay attention to the soil.
“If your leaves are brown or yellow, touch the soil,” McDaniel said.
If the soil is too dry, then add water; if it’s too wet, then McDaniel said students should re-pot their plant with fresh, dry soil and give it a small amount of water until the next watering.