If you’re a broke college student like me, spicing up your dorm or apartment can be challenging. One easy, affordable way to liven up your living room is with house plants.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have a green thumb to successfully keep a few plants alive. I don’t consider myself the world’s greatest gardener, but I’ve accumulated over 20 plants in my home, and they’re all thriving. 

So if you’re looking to begin plant parenthood but don’t know where to start, here are my recommendations and tips for which plants to start with and why.

Snake plant 

Sansevieria, more commonly known as “the snake plant,” is basically the world’s easiest plant to keep alive. It doesn’t require much sunlight, and you can forget to water it for weeks.

With its long, snaky leaves, it’s a statement plant perfect for any living room. Mine now stands about four feet tall next to my TV. 

Research also indicates that snake plants help keep inside air clean, removing harmful toxins. So it’s pretty and keeps you healthy. 

Pothos 

Pothos plants are generally easy to care for, but it depends on which variety you get. They come in many colors, but I recommend those with solid green leaves, not the variegated white ones, which are a little more tricky to take care of. 

As a whole, pothos can adapt to varying environments. They thrive most with indirect sunlight but can tolerate low light, and they can grow in either soil or a vase of water. 

They grow fairly fast and are super easy to propagate new ones. Simply cut a leaf off at the stem, stick it in some water, and you’ll probably see roots sprouting in a few days. 

However, you should be aware that pothos can be toxic to cats, dogs and children if ingested. Although not fatal, they can cause irritation and vomiting — my cat learned this the hard way.

Fern

If you keep them safe from dry air and extreme temperatures, ferns won’t cause you any problems. They love humidity and shade, so they’re ideal for a bathroom away from any windows.

I have a Boston fern on my bathroom counter, and it has thrived in that environment with minimal watering. 

Because they love humidity, it’s better to mist ferns with a spray bottle rather than soak the soil, but you can get away without doing so by keeping them in the bathroom like me or by using a humidifier. 

Succulent 

Most plant enthusiasts will say succulents are easy, but that’s only if you don’t overwater them. Too many new plant parents — with the best intentions — water their succulents daily or even weekly simply because they worry too much.

A nursery owner once told me that if you spit on your succulent every few weeks, that’s still too much water. With their thick stems and leaves, succulents can store water for weeks and thrive in dry soil. 

There are many types of succulents but some of the most common are aloe and cacti. I highly recommend these as long as you can control yourself with the watering can. 

Spider plant

The spider plant is both adaptable and easy to grow. It gets its name from the spider-like extensions, or “spiderettes,” that sprout and dangle down from the base plant. 

With its dangling spiderettes, this plant works well in a hanging basket or on a high shelf. If you water them well and provide them with bright sunlight, they’ll likely grow quickly. 

If a spider plant looks like it’s dying, it probably isn’t. You might notice the leaves start to brown, but that’s normal and won’t harm the plant. It probably just means there’s fluoride in the water you’re giving it. It helps to periodically flood the plants with distilled water or even rainwater to flush out excess salt in the soil and then allow them to drain. 

No matter which one you choose, parenting plants can be a rewarding, enjoyable experience, so long as you know where to start.

@CecilLenzen

features-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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