Houseplants can be excellent accents to any students’ home. From flowers to cacti to trees, there’s bound to be an indoor plant that could flourish in almost any living space.

In addition to the color and vibrancy of houseplants, they can also be good for your health. Sources from WebMD to NASA have found that plants enhance air and water quality, improve sleep by providing extra oxygen, promote happiness, relieve stress and treat depression. 

snake plant

The sansevieria, also known as the snake plant, is recommended for beginners. Snake plants thrive on limited maintenance and bright, indirect light.

From single window dorm rooms, apartment balconies and bathroom skylights, there’s bound to be a houseplant that belongs in college students’ residences. While chain superstores such as Walmart, Lowe’s, Menards and Home Depot offer plant selections, Springfield is home to a number of independent and locally owned nurseries and plant stores. Included among them is Schaffitzel’s Flowers and Greenhouses, Wickman’s Garden Village and Garden Adventures Nursery.

Mike Schaffitzel, who, with his brother Tony, operates the 71-year-old nursery and flower shop donning their last name, said he has seen houseplant purchases on the rise in recent years, particularly in the wake of COVID-19. He said he is quick to offer advice to anyone looking to care for a new plant or who is new to plants.

Springfield’s demographic and unofficial “college-town” status have helped spur students and young adults to fill their window sills with flowers and foliage.

Mike recommended the sansevieria, otherwise known as a snake plant, and pothos, commonly referred to as devil’s ivy, for beginners. With their ability to thrive on limited maintenance and bright, indirect light, he said he believes them to be some of the easiest plants to care for. 

Betsy, Mike’s wife, added anthurium, or laceleaf, to her husband’s list. She mentioned one in their care that amazed her with its durability.

Monstera

Monsteras thrive in bright, indirect sunlight and require watering every 1-2 weeks.

“I’ve left it (upstairs) and forgot all about it, and three months later it was so bone dry it was powdery, but it looks exactly like it was the day I brought it there,” she said. “Perfectly green, the blooms were still beautiful.”

Despite requiring more tending-to, Mike’s favorites include the fiddle leaf fig and monsteras. Schaffitzel’s offers a diverse selection of houseplants that may suit what anyone is looking for.

“We’ve got a lot of plants. I get every different thing I can get in the houseplant world,” Mike said. “Usually we’d have three benches full of poinsettias and we don’t have room for that because houseplants are the most popular thing for us right now.”

Lisa Burkhart, greenhouse manager of Wickman’s Gardens, said she thinks while low maintenance might be preferred among beginners, it is also important to seek options that are rewarding.

“New plant parents need to see that their efforts are not being wasted, so some rapid growth, blooms or foliage change is desirable,” she said. “The old favorites for low maintenance plants are philodendron, pothos, mother in law’s tongue and dracaena. These are pretty forgiving of over or underwatering and can thrive in many different light levels.”

Wickman’s offers a wide variety of succulents, which are thick and fleshy plants that can survive in arid environments. It is important to avoid overwatering and ensure drainage at the bottom of the pot. Their selection is typically small plants, potentially ideal for a dorm room or an apartment with limited space.

Burkhart said her personal favorite plants to have in the house are herbs. With the proper amount of light, supplemental or natural, herbs can be harvested year-round.

“Having houseplants cleans the air and adds a feeling of well-being to your environment,” Burkhart said. “Also, having something to care for can really improve a person’s outlook during difficult circumstances, like quarantine for instance.”

Houseplants of all varieties can make a great addition to a student’s home, and Springfield is home to nurseries that offer many choices and advice on how to help them thrive.

 

Follow Jack McGee on Twitter, @jack_mcgee_

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