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How to take care of plants in uni

Date:28 July 2020
A proud plant parent
A proud plant parent

Over the course of the last few years, I have seen many plants come and go. Plants are fun to have, they brighten up your room and research shows that they have a positive effect on your overall well being. Indoor plants produce extra oxygen, and some even filter bad air. Indoor plants also make your room feel more alive and can boost your happiness levels. Especially now that we are not only living in our student rooms but also working and studying in them, it’s not a bad idea to invest in some plants to make your room more alive and oxygen-filled. However, the only thing more depressing than no plants in your room, is a dead plant in your room. In this blog I’m going to walk you through the steps of how to become a successful plant owner, and how to stay one.

  1. Start off with easy plants 

Starting off with plants that need constant care can be exhausting, especially if you don’t really know what you’re doing. Learn from my mistakes; I tried to start my plant collection with a kumquat tree (I didn’t even know what kumquats were) and surprise surprise - it died. There are a few ‘starter plants’ that are fun to take care of, but also won’t necessarily die if you forget about them for a bit. My suggestions would be a Golden Pothos or a Chinese snake plant. These aren’t as boring as cactuses (literally the most boring plants ever) because you can see them grow and they’re very low maintenance. Other easy starter plants can be found here. You can buy plants at the many garden centers on the Peizerweg, or at the smaller gardening stores in the city center.

2. Invest in a plant you really like 

Haven’t killed the golden pothos or the snake plant yet? Good! You’re ready to take the next step in your plant career. Once I knew I was capable of keeping plants alive, and I enjoyed the gardening aspect of it, I decided to invest in a more high-maintenance plant. I chose a calathea, a leafy plant with pink stripes on it. Calatheas grow quickly which makes it fun to have them in your room, but they require a little bit more attention. Since this plant was twice as expensive as my other plants, letting it die would be a shame. If you’re forgetful, there are plenty of plant watering apps that can help remind you to water your plants.

3. Trade stem cuttings 

Since plants can be pretty expensive, a good way to increase your plant collection is by trading stem cuttings. Some plants grow on 1 root and 1 stem, but others have lots of little stems that sprout out of the soil. Pancake plants grow like crazy and it’s easy to remove and repot the stem cuttings from it. If a few of your friends have plants, swap stem cuttings! 

4. Liven up your house 

No room on your desk, mantlepiece or windowsill? Get creative with hanging plants, or building shelves on your wall so that you can fit more plants in your room. Add some plants to your kitchen, like fresh basil or mint plants that you can buy at supermarkets. Repotting those fresh herb plants into pots makes them live longer, which means you’re not only being sustainable, but also saving money from having to constantly buy a whole new plant every time you want to enjoy a fresh mint tea. 

5. Plan what to do when you leave for a long time 

If you plan on going on a 3-week holiday in the summer, you can count on at least a few plants dying if you just leave them. Of course, there are other options. Firstly, you can ask your housemates to take care of them. The risk of this is that they’ll forget or not know how much water to give. You can make little note cards with what to do. 

If your housemates aren’t home, and there isn’t anyone else around to water your plants, you have to get creative. A few weeks ago, I left for a week and a half and built an irrigation system (pictured below). I did this by placing all of my plants on my desk after having properly watered them all. By grouping the plants together, the moisture stays between the plants longer and doesn’t evaporate as quickly. Between the pots, I placed a few glasses of water, with cotton strings from the glass to the soil. Like this, water is slowly fed to the plants through the cotton string. And the result: it worked! All of my plants were still alive and some even grew quite a bit.

Hopefully I was able to motivate a few of you to reconnect with your plant parenthood! And if not, you can always just buy a fake plant at Ikea and call it a day. Happy gardening!

About the author

Hey! I’m Danique, a Dutch/American studying International Relations and International Organizations with a mild obsession with coffee, cats, and rowing. If you can’t find me, look for the girl (almost always) wearing pink and writing blogs.


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