Paul Nickerson

Plants: College Student’s Best Friend

In Potting on November 2, 2010 at 12:04 am

Hey all! I was recently given this article from a student here on campus and thought it was rather applicable! Enjoy! Remember, I welcome articles and posts written by other students. If you every want to post something, feel free the shoot me an Email!

Plants: College Student’s Best Friend
Elizabeth Stevens

Toward the end of the summer, I scoured department stores, magazines, and websites with one goal in mind–create a “home” in my dorm room.

My bright blue, green, and purple bedding screamed first-year, and I was a junior for crying out loud. Pictures of my travels littered my bulletin board, pinned on with obtrusive tacks. Rainbow Christmas lights ran along the border of “my side” of the room.

I am tired of the immaturity of my dorm room; the same feel I got from every other room I have been in. One problem: I didn’t have the money or the space to create my dream “home.”

The answer I found was by the simple inspiration of a few environmental science majors I know. Plants are a college student’s best friend.

A dorm room with potted cacti, aloe, snake plants, and herbs creates a calming atmosphere stressed college students covets but typically eludes them. It doesn’t even have to hurt a student’s budget.

Gator Aloe

Dr. Virginia Lohr of Washington State University conducted a study in 1996 that measured the stress levels of participants performing tasks on a computer. Participants were tested in a computer lab when plants were present and another where they were absent. Blood pressure, emotions, and reaction speed to questions were monitored.

According to the results, participants were 12 percent more productive when plants decorated the room, and their systolic blood pressure was lower.

This conclusion agrees with Dr. Roger S. Ulrich’s 2002 study on the benefits of hospital gardens that he conducted through Texas A&M University.

Ulrich says “simply looking at environments dominated by greenery, flowers, or water-–as compared to built scenes lacking nature (rooms, buildings, towns)–is significantly more effective in promoting recovery or restoration from stress.” This evidence applies to patients and non-patients, like college students, he says.

My environmental science friends must realize something that students like me may not think about. Indoor plants clean the air we breathe.

According to data collected by the John C. Stennis Space Center of NASA, “low-light requiring houseplants have demonstrated the potential for improving indoor air quality by removing trace organic pollutants from the air in buildings.” A plant can easily get rid of harmful airborne chemicals like formaldehyde and carbon monoxide.

In order to get the proper plants to clean my dorm room air, relax my psyche, and create a mature ambiance, I consulted a couple of Messiah College, dorm plant “experts” (and environmental science majors).

Sitting on Paul Nickerson’s desk is an auquaponics system made of Tupperware containers and a heating lamp constructed of PVC pipe. Both of which are designed specifically for his plants: a jade plant, a desert rose, a living stone, a cactus, and a venus flytrap.

Dani Oudenne’s room is taken over by the 20 plus plants that sit on her desk, shelves, and window sill. Her most recent trip to Ashcombe Farm and Greenhouses exhausted her month’s savings on a gator aloe, thyme, mint, and a dragon bone.

They advised me to consider a couple things when picking out plants for my dorm room.

Stick with desert plants, just in case you are forgetful and can’t remember to water your plants every day. Also, the Grantham/Hess courtyard window doesn’t get much light, so stick with shade or low-light plants. Oh, and Elizabeth, invest in some aloe just in case the sun burns that pale skin.

What is best about plants is that they can be as cheap or as expensive as I like. I’m a major cheap-skate, so I spent less than twenty dollars on my three plants.

Pots are what get expensive. Don’t buy pots at greenhouses; they’re overpriced. Places like Wal-Mart and K-Mart have cheap, nice-looking options.

With my friends’ advice and a little research, I settled on three plants: a peace lily, a gator aloe, and a common houseleek. I have learned over the past few weeks how to best take care of my plants, and I am genuinely excited when I see them grow.

Common Houseleek

Cheap, clean, relaxing, and secretly motivating, what’s not to love about plants? They’re a college student’s best friend. It’s not like I can have a dog here, right?

  1. […] out my article on of all things: plants! (Note the hand painted Honduran flag […]

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