By Holly Miller
The recent blooming trend of the houseplant, situated and dangled from nearly every windowsill and bookshelf in every student room, feels like it could easily be dismissed as another basic trend. Sure, we’ve all caught the guilty, sad and wilting leaves of our cactus, much loved but dearly forgotten about over the Christmas break and immediately over-watered it and said our sad goodbyes. It’s taken to my third year to finally let the desire to procure every plant I fancy to become the backdrop to my room here at university.
I have a terrarium from IKEA where I keep my desert plants on my windowsill; only watering the mix of succulents and large aloe vera about once a week, or even less. I do worry about them sitting there for the winter, but the terrarium seems to be keeping them happy and warm enough through the recent cold spikes. If anyone can find a cheap one (this was £12) I would recommend for desert plants.
The ivy, swiss cheese (monstera deliciosa) plant and my most exciting find of the blue star fern (phlebodium aureum) all need to be watered/misted about once every one-to-two days. A good way of checking how dry the soil becomes between waters, as this is usually the best indication of how often they need to be watered.
The ivy is about a year old (another IKEA holder, please don’t judge me) and has grown considerably in a short space of time. Ivy’s do well with limited sunlight and if it is growing too long, just chop off the end (you can create another ivy plant by propagating this cutting if you want or give it to a friend) and it will grow back slower. They’re a good, low maintenance plant that is a fast grower, so you can see the growth quicker than other plants.
The cheese plant is probably my favourite plant to look at, because it’s such a focus point in my room. I’m eagerly waiting for more grooves to appear in the leaves as the plant grows. This plant needs to be watered every day, as it is a rainforest plant. It is used to non-direct sunlight and being surrounded by moisture. I bought this plant from the houseplant stall outside the union during the first week and it’s been doing well in my slightly darker room ever since.
The blue star fern is the most exciting plant I’ve ever seen (as sad as that is to admit) and was bought on impulse from one of the gift shop vendors downstairs in the Corn Exchange. As another rainforest plant, this seems to be adapting well to the dim light of my room. I mist the roots of this plant about once a day, or once every two days. If you have a fern, avoid watering the leaves as they’re water repellent, instead sit it in a small tray (or plate) or water if the pot has holes in the bottom, or misting the bottom of the stems.
Growing and cultivating plants has been something my mum has unconsciously instilled in me, in a way I never realised until university. In the trying times of her life, she turned to her garden and created great, riotous plant beds, no matter how small the space she had. She always told me that having something to tend for and nurture was a way to save herself from the chaos of a dark, bleak world. I like to think that my little plant collection here at university saves me from failing to see how much life grows in my surroundings.