Go Green

Houseplants can brighten up any space with limited cost and effort


Mary Claire Miller

Aloe plants are easy to care for and can care for you by offering soothing aloe for minor burns.

House plants like succulents and cacti are not only showing up on window sills around town, but stylized versions also adorn laptop stickers and T-shirts adding to the trend of adding greenery to home decor. There is a huge variety of plants to choose from that can make bringing happiness into a room simple. 

It’s something living, kind of like a quiet friend that doesn’t judge. It makes your space look more livable and less stiff,” says McDowell junior and plant enthusiast Drew Farrell. “And it feels good to take care of something. It gives you a sense of comfort and accomplishment. It’s a wonderful feeling too when your plant blooms and thrives.” 

A recent decorative trend has been the small, smooth, pale look of succulents, and although you can buy a fake one, the real thing is easy to care for, making them a great place to start for someone looking to get their hands dirty in some fresh soil.

Succulents are a great way to decorate and bring life to a room, with a wide variety to choose from including different types of aloe, cacti and echeveria. Succulents are the easiest indoor plants to take care of and they don’t even need to be fertilized. 

However, each plant has differing light and watering needs. Be careful because the most common mistake made in taking care of succulents is overwatering, which leads to root rot and can kill the plant. 

Aloe: Aloe plants do well in dry conditions and do not require much water. They require a moderate amount of direct light, at least six hours per day. There are many varieties of aloe plants. The most common is aloe vera, whose frawns can be used to soothe minor rashes and burns by simply breaking a piece off. 

Cacti: Cacti are desert plants that need plenty of sunlight. They are unique in that they have a special ability to survive droughts, so they require a very small amount of water. If overwatered, the roots of the cacti rot easily.

Echeveria:  There are over 150 different types of echeveria, and they make a great indoor decoration. The most important part of caring for an echeveria plant is making sure that you do not overwater it. The soil of these plants must dry out completely between waterings, otherwise, you risk root rot. These plants propagate very easily, and will eventually produce baby plants that you can re-pot and share!


Ivy Spreads Its Love

There is a wide variety of ivy plants you can choose from and they make great beginner greenery. Some of the most popular ivies include English ivy, devil’s ivy (also known as a pothos plant), and spider ivy (also known as a spider plant). Ivies prefer to be kept on the drier side but have varying watering needs. They last a long time and can grow to be very large. 

English Ivy: English Ivies are very easy to care for. They grow well when planted in hanging baskets or pots with a stake for climbing. English ivy plants thrive with plenty of moisture, but can also tolerate dry periods. The varying shades of English ivy leaves make it an attractive houseplant. 

Pothos: Pothos are one of the most well-known houseplants and are great for a beginner. These plants prefer bright, indirect light but can tolerate low light. They do not require a lot of water and look especially nice in a hanging basket. Pothos are also very easy to propagate to get more plants! 

Spider plant: Spider plants are some of the heartiest houseplants. Like the pothos, spider plants do best in bright light but can tolerate low light. They are very low-maintenance plants that do not require much water.


Grow A Green Thumb

One of the most important things to keep in mind when buying a plant is where you purchase it. Plants from stores like Giant Eagle and Target will more than likely not last as long; many of their plants are overwatered and sold in pots without proper drainage. Instead, opt for local garden stores such as Stan’s Garden Center or Potratz Floral Shop. Home improvement stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot have a variety of plants too, but just be aware of the signs of an unhealthy plant. According to gardeningknowhow.com, you should make sure to look for foliage growth, check for pests and disease and check the roots to see if it is rootbound before making a purchase.

 Jayme Taylor, a biology teacher and advisor of the McDowell Garden Club, stresses the importance of research when purchasing a new plant. “It’s important to research the type of plant and what its preferences are. The amount of light, moisture, humidity is a big factor… also, if they like fertilizer and how much and how often,” Taylor says. 

Taylor also says to not go overboard when purchasing new plants. “Start with a couple of plants and learn how they grow and what they need. Once you have that, then add some more to your collection – don’t overdo it!”