Plant Parenthood in college

Graphic by Haley Morkert. 

LAUREN HOUGH | OPINION COLUMNIST | lhough@butler.edu

Some people have a security blanket. Others, the notorious emotional support water bottle. 

Me? I have an emotional support spineless yucca.

Despite the adorable, registered emotional support bunny that resides in my room, I’ve become inexplicably attached to a moderately-sized perennial evergreen I bought at Home Depot my first semester of college.

College is a time of growth, transition and personal development. It’s also the perfect time to become a plant person. If you have yet to indulge in vegetation to liven up your living space, here’s a few reasons why you should — and for my fellow plant lovers, take this article as permission to purchase another plant or two. 

First and foremost, plants go through this beautiful process called photosynthesis. As you — or your chatty roommate — turn oxygen into carbon dioxide, plants turn that CO2 right back into oxygen. While it’s a little more complex than that, what’s important to note is that plants help filter your air of toxins and regulate humidity.  

Keegan Dorr, junior psychology major, notices the impact that plants make on his apartment.

“A big reason why I own [plants] is especially because I like nature,” Dorr said. “I like being outside, so having a little bit of that inside is nice.”

Plants have also been found to reduce stress, elicit positive emotions and improve concentration and productivity. I think we can all agree college students could benefit from a little less stress and more productivity.

But if education-centered productivity isn’t your thing, plant care is an excellent way to productively procrastinate your school work. You’ll learn a ton about dirt acidity, watering schedules and soil drainage — who needs a party trick when you can name every member of the asparagaceae family?

Lexi Harford, junior art and design major, uses her plants to take productive breaks from school work. 

“I will procrastinate my homework and repot plants instead,” Harford said. “If I have the opportunity to repot a plant, I will. Otherwise, I’ll turn it into a watering session.”

Another cool thing about plants is that you can make baby plants out of your big plants. When the little ones grow to their full size, I guarantee you’ll be a proud plant parent. 

This process, called propagation, makes being a plant parent super cheap — just give them a trim and share the babies with your friends. The best part is, that if you happen to forget about your plant or accidentally kill it, it’s no big deal — unlike having a real child or pet. 

Plants make a great stepping stone into the responsibility of owning another living thing. Plants require research and attention — some more than others — but usually bounce back pretty quickly if you make a small mistake in their care. If you haven’t already bought a pet store betta fish, invest in some aquatic plants or moss balls instead. If you’re really insistent on getting an interactive pet, carnivorous plants are the way to go — admit it, we’ve all wanted a venus fly trap at some point in our lives. 

Having beautiful, thriving plants in your home is a sign of true adulthood. 

Visitors will be wowed by your maturity — especially if you know how to decorate your plants. Pots are a simple, elegant addition to any space and come in lots of fun shapes, like animals, heads and even dinosaurs. And honestly, they’re fun to shop for. Pots can be DIYed out of tin cans or PVC pipes, which add another layer of character to your handsome plant children.

If you’re looking for a place to start, there are a few plants that are relatively easy to take care of, do well with minimal light and don’t require a lot of maintenance. My personal favorite, as you know, are spineless yuccas. Other popular options are pothos, succulents, money trees, snake plants, aloe vera plants and ferns.

Leah Bechtold, junior economics and political science major, started her plant collection on a budget. 

“The dollar section at Target almost always has little plants that are only like a dollar,” Bechtold said. “Sometimes they’re herbs, and if you’re cooking, it’s fun to use stuff you cut off your own plants.”

My yucca — and all of its siblings — has greatly improved the quality of my college life, especially during these dark, dingy months of winter. Do yourself a favor and find an emotional support plant. Your collection may start small, but I promise you, you’ll be a proud plant parent before you know it.

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