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Houseplants are wonderful – they are a great addition to any room and serious mental health boosters. According to studies, indoor plants: 

  • Boost mood, productivity, and concentration

  • Reduce stress 

  • Eliminate harmful toxins in the air

Throughout quarantine, our plant collection grew quite a bit. Caring for plants really helped us get through the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, and they truly brighten up any environment. We are huge fans of houseplants, and we believe that everyone should get plants if they can. All you need is sunlight, water, and some love!

Where to buy houseplants 

Grocery Stores are the best place to buy cheap plants, especially if you’re a beginner and not too sure of what you want. Aldi had a great selection of mini succulents and aloe during the summer, and they were only $1.99 each! 

Trader Joe’s is another awesome place to get plants; they have adorable pots and switch out their inventory seasonally.

For a wider selection of plants, we recommend going to a local plant nursery. 5th Season Gardening off Preston Ave is huge and a great place to explore in Charlottesville. They have indoor and outdoor plants with a large selection of gardening tools as well.

 

Easy plants to take care of 

As a busy college student, we know how difficult it can be to stay on top of everything. Many people worry that because of how much they have going on in their life, they won’t be able to keep a plant alive. However, that’s totally not true. There are many plants that are super low maintenance. Some of the easiest plants to take care of are: 

1. Pothos


pothos plant
Original photo by Beca Kindling

This plant is great in humid environments (like bathrooms) and doesn’t require consistent watering. Moderate light is ideal for these plants, but they can tolerate lower and higher light conditions as well. Make sure not to overwater, like most plants, it’s better to underwater than overwater. Check to see if the top two inches of soil are dry and if so, give your plant baby a little shower!

Pro tip: If the leaves start to yellow, you’re overwatering! Stick a chopstick in the soil and make some holes to aerate the soil and allow your plants’ roots to breathe.

 

2. Snake Plant 


snake plant
Photo by Kelly Sikkema from Unsplash

There are so many different types of snake plants – they can grow inside and out and prefer not to have direct sun. These plants can be left without water for a month or more, so if you don’t have a green thumb this plant is for you!

Pro tip: The more sunlight you give your snake baby, the faster they will grow. These plants can survive almost anywhere, so if you have an empty spot in your home that needs a little green, invest in a snake plant.

 

3. Spider plant 


spider plant
Original photo by Shirley Chu

This houseplant is very popular and does not require much maintenance. I bought mine at a local nursery in Northern Virginia, and I love her (I named her Hope because I bought her during the peak of COVID).

Spider plants require bright sunlight and moist soil – with time to completely dry out in between each watering session.

Pro tip: To keep the tips from browning, let your water settle! Browning tips are usually due to high levels of harsh minerals in the water. Fill a container with water, and let it sit for a few days to let the minerals settle before watering – or if you want to be really fancy, you can use distilled or even put a container outside to collect rainwater!

 

4. Tradescantia Zebrina 

This plant is gorgeous with striped leaves that are metallic in the sunlight. Purple leaves represent new growth while greener leaves represent older growth. This plant flowers in the spring and early summer, and the leaves become purple, pink, and white.

There is some maintenance for this plant, but it only really requires sunlight, high humidity, and wet soil. Once this plant grows bigger, some trimming is required too. 

Pro tip: This is one of the best plants to grow your own babies! Just cut the stem with a sterilized knife/scissor, and stick the new plant in water to root. You should wait a few weeks and let the roots grow to a good length before repotting. 

 

5. ZZ Plant 

These plants are one of my favorites. They are so easy to take care of, and just like snake plants, don’t require much water due to the bulbs in their roots that store water! It’s so exciting to see a new growth point come in, but they are slow growers.

ZZ plants prefer bright indirect light but can definitely tolerate lower light conditions. Make sure to let the soil dry out between waterings, otherwise, your plant babies’ roots can rot! Remember they store water in bulbs and don’t need as much care as you think.

Pro tip: You can grow your own ZZ plant babies by either cutting leaves off close to the stem and putting them in water/soil, or cutting leaves in half horizontally, and putting the flat edge into water/soil. This process will take quite a while so be patient!

 

6. Succulents and cacti (before you buy, make sure you have lots of bright direct sunlight and make sure to NEVER over water!) 


succulents and cacti
Original photo by Shirley Chu

Succulents and cacti are perfect for those who don’t have time to consistently water their plants. They can go long periods of time without water, and only require lots of sunlight. The only issue that people usually have with these is overwatering.

Pro tip: To avoid overwatering, lightly squish the leaves to see if your plant needs water. If the leaf is still hard/not wrinkly DO NOT WATER! For cacti, use a chopstick to squish, and if your little spikey friend isn’t really squishy, DON’T WATER!

 

Some things you may need to take care of your new plant babies:

  • Soil – indoor houseplant mix from your local plant store, home depot/lowes/walmart should be perfect

  • Perlite – volcanic rocks these little white soil additives help keep the soil aerated and prevent your plants soil from being too wet; it also keeps root rot at bay

  • Pots – yes, pots without holes are cute and can be easier, but they can kill your plants!! If you really want to use a pretty pot without a hole, leave your plant in its plastic grow pot, and put it straight in the pot! This way you can take your plant out in case you overwater.

  • Saucers – if you have pots with holes, you can bottom water your plants! All you have to do is fill the saucer with water, and let your plant soak it up naturally! Refill if necessary, and pour out the extra water after 30 minutes. This prevents overwatering, and also keeps fungus gnats at bay!

  • Plant hanger – if you love the look of trailing plants, invest in a good macrame plant hanger. You can also just buy simple macrame cording and create your own, it’s super easy!


Courtesy of Wayfair

If you need some plant inspo, you can follow me on instagram @bextheplantmom ! Feel free to message me if you have any questions:)

Plants are a great addition to any space, just make sure to read up on specific care before buying so that you can give your new baby all it needs to thrive! Happy planting???

 

Shirley is a fourth year at the University of Virginia. She loves coffee, books, and plants. She also hopes that you'll enjoy her articles!
rebecca [beca] is a fourth-year in the school of education and human development at the university of virginia, she has no idea what she wants to do next - but what college student does?! she loves yoga, plants, painting, interior design, fashion, reading, and being outside in the sunshine and fresh air!! as the social media director (and content creator on the side), you may not see her write articles so follow her on social media @ becakindling
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