It’s a known truth that we’re living in an increasingly digital-dependent world. We’re hooked on our screens and it’s easy to miss real and tangible experiences at our very fingertips. Our busy lives of to-do lists, plans, and deadlines mean that it’s easy to lose touch with the natural world around us, and the beauty and sanctuary that it can give us. But thankfully there is a way to bring nature back into our lives simply by purchasing a houseplant (or many). It’s nothing like a walk in the woods in the fresh air, but having a houseplants’ presence definitely brings us many benefits. Plus, it’s once again fashionable to own one so that’s even more reason to join the hype and add a pop of green to your room.
Around 2016, we became crazy about houseplants. Interiors in magazines and social media became adorned with spider plants, climbing ivy, and potted curiosities. As a response to this trend, cacti sales were boosted by 34% last year! Houseplants give us a feeling of homeliness, a kind of completeness once your shelves are bedecked with at least one green companion.
During Freshers’ Week, I myself perused the SU’s Houseplant Sale and joined the craze. I navigated the shelves packed sky high with colourful and enticing plants like lemon trees, spider plants and even Venus flytraps. In the end, I excitedly selected an easy-to-maintain cactus, accompanied by a helpful label indicating to the clueless gardener, such as myself, how often I should water my new spindly friend.
I am just one of the many green-fingered students across the UK who have attended such a sale at a student’s union. The phenomenon echoes a parallel craze of the late 70s, during which decorating your home with houseplants equalled a retro style. The craze’s comeback however has an extra layer of wellness, and the benefits that houseplants can bring.
First of all, adorning our student rooms with a humble houseplant can aid our physical health, as they improve air quality by removing pollutants. They have also been found to boost concentration, making them a productive study companion. So perhaps a plant purchase would be a wise decision for the dreaded exam time?
Not only this, but houseplants can be beneficial for your general well-being. They have a soothing quality, as it is somewhat therapeutic to have a speckle of green life in your room, bringing a piece of the outside world in. It’s also inspiring and uplifting to have a pop of color sprucing up the basic furniture and the grim low lighting that is typical of many student houses.
So, if you wish to join the houseplant fever, but have missed the SU sale, where should you go and what should you buy for an easy-to-maintain companion? The main thing to bear in mind when buying a plant is watering, warmth, light (and love!) so that it doesn’t resort to becoming a crinkly brown corpse after a few weeks. Taking care of your plant is just as important as taking advantage of its home decor potential.
If your room has bad lighting, or you’re worried you might forget to water your plant in the midst of hectic student life, never fear as there are many houseplants that require minimal watering and can tolerate the low lighting of darker or north-facing rooms. Gardener Alice Vincent writes in the Telegraph that plants such as sansevieria, aspidistras and spider plants are your best bet if you want low maintenance. If plants are placed on windowsills, or curtains are left open during the day, there is also the danger of scorching suntraps, so be wary of that.
For rooms of limited space, there are more compact options on offer instead of plants that expand over large areas. Say hello to aloe, or smaller cacti, which you can pop on the shelf or on your desk and give your study environment some green. With the right care these can live on for many years, with well drained soil and access to bright light. However, beware of your windowsills during the night, particularly as we head into midwinter, because the cold air behind the curtains will not be particularly welcomed by your houseplant.
Supermarkets are a good place to start to find relatively cheap houseplants, often sold for a fiver or below. Similarly IKEA, B&Q and Homebase sell affordable indoor plants and accessories, as do local garden centres such as Hulme Garden Centre. For a higher price range, the Royal Horticulture Society recommended houseplant company Flourish in the Manchester’s city centre which offers a full assortment of cheery perennials (a plant that lives for more then two years) which you can find it just off Market Street.
Whatever the weather, it’s always the perfect time to find a green companion that might just make a positive impact on your well-being and productivity. It will also keep you on a parallel with one of the decades’s most colorful trends. Join the expanding green-fingered collective sprucing up their rooms and flats with houseplants and get back in touch with nature’s wonders.