Students avert pet restrictions, grow plants
Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 23:10
USU junior Jessica Morgan bustled around her living room and kitchen, happily pointing out and naming each plant lining the windowsills and tables.
“This one and this one somebody gave me as a gift,” Morgan said, gesturing to two little leafy specimens. She turned to another row of pots. “These are like my babies. I started these ones from starts.”
Morgan is among a number of students who, for one reason or another, keep houseplants. Plants in various stages of growth, from fledgling sprouts to a robust rubber plant, line the corners, coffee table and kitchen windows of the small house she and her roommates rent together.
“I never have enough pots and dirt and stuff because they’re always growing, and you have to transplant them,” Morgan said.
Since a number of apartments restrict renters from keeping animals, plants are a practical solution for those looking for something to take care of. For example, on-campus housing residents cannot keep animals most of the time, but they can have plants, according to Steve Jenson, Housing and Residence Life executive director. While students living on campus can keep a fish in a small tank, people are restricted to pets that are service or companion animals on campus, he said.
“Pets have to be approved through the disability resource center,” Jenson said.
Morgan’s interest in plants started when she took an introductory horticulture class for a general education requirement. Though she was pursuing a family, consumer and human development major at the time, her passion has since turned to learning all about plants.
“Once I started learning about how they grow and all the stuff inside, I was like, ‘Plants are so cool. They are smarter than humans,’” she said.
Typically, Morgan does not need to buy her plants, relying on others.
“People buy plants and don’t take care of them, so I save them,” she said.
Craig Aston, a professor in the plants, soils and climate department, said the main things a student should be concerned about when taking care of houseplants are light and water. Typically, a plant owner should wait until the top of the soil is dry before watering it again.
“One of the most important things a student can do when watering is water only when it needs it,” Aston said.
Also, leaving plants in standing water for more than a day is generally a bad idea, he said.
Houseplants do not need to be fertilized as often, either, he said. Students can use Miracle Grow every other month or so according to the package directions.
Aston recommended a variety of houseplants for the busy college student that are easy to care for and tolerate some neglect.
• For low light, such as a basement apartment or east or north facing windows, Aston recommended the Chinese Evergreen. This tough plant tolerates a wide range of watering, he said.
• For a student who needs a carefree, durable indoor plant, Aston recommended Devil’s Ivy or Philodendron. The Philodendron is durable in low light and and forgiving if not watered regularly, he said.
• A good flowering plant is the peace lily, Aston said. This plant flowers occasionally.
• If a student wants to get more out of their plant, they can try planting herbs in a sunny window, he said. Vegetables are not recommended for indoors, because even in the sunniest window they won’t get enough light, he said.