Plants: How to brighten your student room with greenery

03 Oct 2018
By Unite Students, Staff writer at The Common Room

They make your room look nice and they give you a friend to talk to. But there’s more to indoor plants than decoration and one-sided conversation.

Studies have shown that certain species of plants can clear toxins from the air in your room, lift your mood, and even make you more productive.

But which plants should you buy, and what should you put them in?

10 Perfect plants for your student room

1) Spider plant

The foliage of choice for brightening doctors’ waiting rooms, as well as boring offices. Chlorophytum Comosum, to use its full name, is great at removing the poisonous formaldehyde from the air.

Simply water, allow to dry out before watering again, and give them lots of bright but indirect sunlight. It’s almost impossible to kill (a little browning at the tips is normal).

2) Paddle plant

A rather beautiful member of the uber-Instagrammable succulent family, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora (also known as the desert cabbage) has thick, rounded green leaves with cheerful red tips.

Keep it in bright sunlight and turn it each week. Water the soil - never let the leaves get wet - and always use room temperature water rather than cold straight from the tap.

3) Barrel cactus

If your room faces south, and you’ve got a lovely big window, the Barrel Cactus could be the one for you. We could make a case for this being the cutest cactus around, if it weren’t covered in spines.

It doesn't need much water (once every couple of months), grows incredibly slowly, and likes a loose sandy soil. Pour the water onto the centre of its ‘head’ and let it run down between the ridges.

4) Peace lily

J.R.R. Tolkien thought that ‘cellar door’ was the most beautiful two-word combination in the English language - but I happen to think ‘peace lily’ gives it a run for its money.

With its distinctive white leaves protecting the flowers, this plant doesn’t need much water or light. It’ll also improve the humidity in your room, helping you get a better night’s sleep.

5) Swiss cheese plant

The swiss cheese plant needs a warm room and plenty of sunlight - and probably a fair bit of space and a supporting pole if you look after it well. Living in a studio? This one’s for you.

As it grows, its massive leaves develop holes in them, resembling a swiss cheese. Fast-growing, great at clearing the air of toxins - the ‘delicious monster’ is a cracking choice.

6) Snake plant

Another one that loves to suck the formaldehyde out of the air, the ‘mother-in-law’s tongue’ is a great way to add a bit of drama with its long, snake-like leaves.

This plant does best in a terracotta pot with good drainage. Don’t bother it too much, give it a decent amount of light, and it’ll take all those nasty aerosol toxins out of your room. Good snakey.

7) Aloe vera

Not only does this plant pump delicious oxygen into your room at night, removing all the carbon dioxide in the process, it also provides you with a ready-made remedy for your burns and scrapes.

There are around 250 varieties of aloe vera, and they’ll all enjoy being placed in bright light and watered once a month. The gel from mature leaves can also be used as a moisturiser.

8) Jade plant

Loved by fans of money and Feng Shui alike, the ‘money plant’ has fallen out of favour in recent years. But if low maintenance and good fortune are important to you, there’s no better choice.

Give it a few hours of direct light every day, keep its soil moist through the spring and summer, and sit back as your Crassula ovata brings luck to your bank balance.

9) Cast iron plant

One for the literary types: the humble Aspidistra elatior of George Orwell fame. Keep yours flying by placing it out of direct sunlight, letting it completely dry between waterings, and dusting its leaves.

Even tougher than the spider plant, you’d have to try really hard to kill off your cast iron plant - it doesn’t really give a hoot if you starve it of light, decent air, or water (just don’t drown it).

10) Lucky bamboo

Looks a bit like asparagus, isn’t really bamboo, and doesn’t even need soil to stay alive - arranged correctly, this easy-care dracaena will bring you all the luck in the world.

Put this plant in a nice vase of water, give it a decent amount of light, and change the water every couple of months. Oh, and research the best arrangements for maximum good fortune.

Pots: On-trend homes for your leafy friends

You don’t have to spend a fortune on a nice pot for your plant, you could even go shabby-chic and use an old baked bean can. But if you’re looking for something sophisticated, there are four on-trend materials you’ll want to consider.

1) Terrazzo

Traditionally, terrazzo is made of concrete with other stuff - like bits of broken ceramic - set into it. It used to be a clever way of using up waste materials, but now it’s an unstoppable interior design force.

2) Terracotta

It’s made of clay, which is porous. And that allows for good drainage, which means you won’t drown your plants. The other benefit? Terracotta’s warm red colour looks a bit like millennial pink.

3) Concrete

Brilliantly brutal in appearance, heavy enough to double up as a paperweight, and neutral enough to work with any colour scheme - concrete is the planter of choice for the minimalists out there.

Speaking of which, have you realised you brought too much stuff with you? Clear the clutter by storing as much or as little as you like with our storage partner LOVESPACE. Find out more.

4) Metallics

Copper and brass are particularly fashionable right now. They can get hot though, so use them for cacti or succulents that love hot temperatures or place them away from direct sunlight.

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Staff writer at The Common Room