Houseplants 101

Houseplants 101

Why getting a houseplant for your apartment may be your best idea yet plus tips and tricks for keeping them alive.

On average, people spend about 90% of their time indoors, crazy – right? Well maybe not that crazy for us considering it’s the middle of April in Rochester and we just had an ice storm, so we’ll do just about anything to stay warm. But since we spend so much time indoors, air quality is a pretty big deal, especially in small, poorly-ventilated spaces (read: dorms).

The good news however, is that there is a very simple and relatively cheap way to improve the air quality in your spaces and combat all the yuckiness that you are breathing in from things like your furnishings to cleaning products to moldy corners to carpets. And that answer is as simple as a couple of potted houseplants.

NASA’s research on air purification has shown that house plants are effective in cleaning the air around us because when they take in carbon dioxide – they also absorb some of the particulates (particle pollution) from the air. Additionally, the microorganisms in plant soil contribute to the cleaning effect.

Beyond just making the air quality of your room better, plants are associated with lower blood pressure and stress levels and higher levels of positivity!

So if you feel convinced that houseplants are the way to go, here are a few of our suggestions of good starter plants:

Spider Plants

Spider plants are very low maintenance and easy to grow (a.k.a. Hard to kill). They like bright, indirect sunlight and are a great option for forgetful plant beginners.


If you want options and variety, this plant is the way to go. With more than 40 different variations, you can be sure to find a type that fits your space and needs. The plant is relatively easy to keep alive, however, if you have a pet or small child, you might want to consider a different plant because the leaves of the dracaena can be toxic if ingested.

Baby Rubber Plant

This one is a great option just for the name. Baby rubber plants thrive in room temperatures and are relatively easy to take care of – they also grow very quickly so if you are someone who is very impatient – this may be a great option for you.


You didn’t think we would do a low-maintenance plants section without mentioning these beauties? Not only are succulents going to enhance your Instagram coolness, they are plants that are used to desert conditions, so neglecting them in the watering department (as you very well may do considering you have 10 billion things on your mind as a college student) can actually be super beneficial for them.

And as a bonus here are our top 3 tips to keep in mind when picking out and taking care of your plant babies:

  1. We said it before, but we’ll say it again – some house plants are toxic, so make sure you do your research in case you have pets or other small organisms that could consume your plants.
  2. Make sure that your pots have drainage. A lot of cute planters don’t have holes at the bottom – this will cause the roots of your plants to rot when you water them. Your plants will develop root rot which is what happen when water sits at the bottom of your pot – you will continue adding water to the plants thinking you’re taking good care of them when you’re really just hurting the plant. So make sure you either use pots with drainage, or place a layer or rocks at the bottom of your pot to allow for some drainage space.
  3. Make sure to water your plants at the right time. When trying to figure out when the right time to water your plants in, take your finger – put it two inches into the soil to see if it’s moist and if the soil is completely dry then it’s probably a good indication that your plant needs to be watered.

So there you have it – the benefits of houseplants are far beyond just decoration. If you’re living in a small space, or even just looking to generally improve the quality of air around you – visit your local nursery, plant center, or even the plant section in your grocery store and pick up some greens!

Lea is an Industrial Design student with a minor in Entrepreneurship. Outside of writing for Behind the Bricks, Lea dedicates her time on campus to Cru, and she loves trying unusual ice cream flavors, swing dancing, and bullet journaling.

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