How To Be The Ultimate Plant Parent

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As students have flooded back to Leeds, it has quickly become apparent that the grotty, bare and (usually) damp ridden uni bedrooms that we signed for a year ago, are really not up to scratch. Alongside fairy lights, posters and prints there is one major alteration that can instantly have your room feeling fresher and more homely: house plants. But how do we care for them? No one wants to invest in something that dies before their eyes at the start of the semester. Here’s ten tips of how to keep your leafy friends alive and thriving… 

1. Watering

Seems obvious, right? All plants will need water to survive but the tricky bit is knowing when to bring out the watering can and how much to give them. Over-watering is one of the most common reasons that a houseplant dies. It’s important to let the soil dry out between watering as plants don’t do well constantly sitting in a damp pot. The best time to water houseplants is in the morning. This is because any excess water has a chance to evaporate in the warmer temperatures so that wet soil and leaves have a lower risk of causing diseases on your precious plants. 

2. Sunlight

Stick your plants on the windowsill or in another well-lit areas of your bedroom. Even if they look aesthetically better over on the bookshelf, without a source of light, they aren’t going to be there long. However, artificial lighting can also be beneficial for your plants. Fluorescent and other warm lighting can help them to grow steadily, if directly shining onto the plant itself. However, when a plant is getting a lot of sunlight, it’s also important to reduce the amount of unnatural heat it’s subjected to. For example, not placing them too close to heating vents or radiators, as this can cause them to wilt significantly. 

Image credit: Megan Johnson

3. Maintenance

 If you’re a particularly busy person, who might forget to pay attention to a plant, then I would suggest buying a tougher, drought tolerant type. For example, evergreen succulents, snake plants or cacti. I left my plant collection in Leeds over lockdown (RIP) but, shockingly my snake plant had actually survived without watering for a strong 4-month period. It’s also important to snip off any dead- brown, dry and relatively lifeless- leaves from your plant. For plants with longer leaves, such as spider plants, use scissors to cut off any browning ends yourself. This allows the remaining healthy leaves to receive more nutrients and have more space. 

4. Watch and Learn

Take note of how your plants respond to their environment. Do they wilt on the windowsill? Is growth increased when you don’t water them daily? Some plant experts also believe that playing music can help plants thrive. Mort Garson’s ‘Plantasia’ is a good track to try for some relaxing, plant beneficial songs. All plants are different, so there’s no set rule about caring for them unanimously. Ultimately, with a little determination and attention, plants can make the perfect addition to a room. The plant parent status is therefore attainable for us all… 

Header image credit: Megan Johnson