A Graduate Students Guide to Greenery

    Posted on Monday, Mar 02, 2020
    Anyone who knows me knows that plants are my passion. I love taking care of them and watching them grow and find them a great way to ground myself when school and work starts to feel overwhelming.
    Image result for parlor palmWhile I have a love for all things green (and luckily a green thumb if I do say so myself), I know some people just don’t. They either think plants are boring, or that they will not be able to keep them alive, or even find them an intimidating and daunting responsibility!
    I’m here to let you know, if you can handle graduate school, you can handle a plant, I promise. It’s just about finding the plant that is right for you! So this is a little guide to what plants to buy based on the type of plant-parent you want to be.
    If you seriously do not want to have to think about your plant but you want it to look impressive standing in your living room or sitting on your desk, parlor palms are for you! This plant tolerates low light and intermittent watering, so it’s very forgiving for forgetful people. It also can be watered with anything, which I didn’t know until I had a friend tell me she’s kept hers looking so nice by watering it with milk? Who would have thought? So, yeah, if you’re interested in an “entry-level” plant that I promise you won’t kill, parlor palm is the way to go.
    Image result for succulentsIf you live somewhere with lots and lots of light, or if you have a well-lit backyard or patio, succulents and cacti are a great low-effort option. These can grow so big and bright and colorful and really all they need is lots of light and well-draining soil. They also definitely don’t mind intermittent watering, in fact overwatering a cactus can be fatal to the plant! So if you’re looking for a pop of color to light up a bright space, these stylish little plants are for you.
    Now, if you’re a little more interested in something you can take care of and actually see it growing actively, I recommend vining plants (like pothos, ivy, or philodendron brasil or neon, just to name a few common ones). These plants can drape down over a hanging basket, or climb all the way up walls and onto ceilings! The coolest part is, as long as you keep them in bright indirect sunlight and water them about once a week, you can actually watch them get bigger and stronger and grow new leaves everyday!
    Another great houseplant that is surprisingly easy are prayer plants. These plants get their name because they move their leaves around a lot as the time of day shifts. So during the day, they open up their leaves to absorb as much light as they can. As the sun sets, they fold their leaves together and upwards, almost like the way people fold their hands together when they pray. These plants are fascinating, and with the right care, they can live a very long time and grow very big.
    Lastly, if you want something for your desk but you want to avoid the hassle of things like dirt and a pot, air plants are the answer. Air plants are amazing because they can sit on any surface and survive. Just like the name suggests: it’s as if they’re surviving on air! The one key thing about these is how you water them (they can’t actually just live on air, that would be insane!). Once a week, it’s important to submerge these guys completely in a bowl of water for about 30 mins, and then let them dry out completely before putting them back on display. And that’s it! Super simple care, and they look so elegant in an office space.

    ---Serina Taluja
    Serina Taluja is doctoral student in the Genetics program.

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