Lifestyle
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Ray Banke / Staff Illustrator

It’s that time of the year again—along with the chill of October, hints of yellow and red are starting to tint the greenery of Morningside Heights—and maybe your dorm room is starting to feel a little dingy. Maybe those $8 posters from the poster man on the corner of 116th and Broadway aren’t enough to lift the gloom of your suite. Do not fear! A simple solution will do the trick: a low-maintenance plant is the magical touch your living space needs.

These two plants are the happiest under the sun. Consider these if you have a south-facing window that lets in the full glory of the sun’s rays.

Aloe vera

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A fleshy green succulent that, besides its aesthetic values, is hands down the best remedy for pain from scrapes and burns.

Watering frequency: Every three weeks, and increasingly sparingly during the winter. Aloe is a wonderful low-maintenance plant for all you forgetful folks since the only danger of killing it is over-watering, so as long as the plant is drained well and watered infrequently, it should thrive.

Grooming: None. A very self-sustaining plant.

Cacti

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Tough and spiky plants that come in various shapes, sizes, and colors to provide a wonderfully diverse desk plant collection.

Watering frequency: Low. Once a week is more than enough to keep them healthy and glowing. Native to the desert, cacti are extremely drought-tolerant—so even if you forget to water them for a few weeks, they will pull through.

Grooming: Cacti are so low-maintenance you can get away with never doing anything but watering them.


Think about bringing these three plant types to spice up your living space if you have a brightly lit room with indirect sunlight.

ZZ plant

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This graceful, tall, and glossy plant is famously known for its indestructibility and ability to withstand long-term neglect, though we frown upon the intentional abuse of such plants—they deserve as much love as you do.

Watering frequency: Less is more. Like cacti, the ZZ plant prefers under-watered conditions rather than being over-watered.

Grooming: It is happiest when left alone in a corner of your bedroom.

Spider plant

A drapey, long-limbed creature whose adaptive capabilities will keep your room decorated without much time commitment.

Watering frequency: Depends on the humidity of your living space. In general, aim to let the soil dry out before waterings.

Grooming: This plant spreads joy and love—when mature, it produces “spiderettes” (baby plants) at the end of their stems. If you would like to expand your green family, you can do so easily by cutting the spiderettes off and replanting it in moist soil.

Philodendron

A staple of indoor gardens, this laid-back plant will live happily in your dorm room without many complaints.

Watering frequency: Occasional. Hydration is needed only when the top inch of soil dries out—a clear indication of this is when the leaves start drooping.

Grooming: Philodendron plants love occasional fertilizer drops. And by occasional, we mean every six to eight weeks in the fall and winter.


Just because you live in a cozy, dimly lit space away from natural light doesn’t mean you have to omit these leafy fellas from your room decor. Check these two out to revive your living area.

Snake plant

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This shapely, highly tolerant plant is even a proven air purifier that absorbs airborne toxins—what more can you ask for?

Watering frequency: Occasional (depending on the type of snake plant and the humidity). It needs only one watering per month during the winter.

Grooming: A little dose of general purpose fertilizer is the treat it needs every few weeks.

Chinese money plant

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Hailing from southwestern China, these slow-growing, pancake-shaped plants are more than happy to rest out of reach of the sun’s rays.

Watering frequency: Once a week or so.

Grooming: These plants are so slow-growing that they’re not the most popular among plant nurseries because of their low profitability. So don’t worry—it’s a stable option worth considering.

People say that the environment we create and live in is a reflection of the mind. So channel that zen energy and build that positive mindset by bringing a plant buddy home this midterm season. It’s that easy!


Staff writer Jane Mok can be contacted at jane.mok@columbiaspectator.com. Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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