Six plants for successful students

Are you setting up digs for your varsity goers or perhaps a first apartment? Provide a homely feel with indoor plants that also aid concentration and won’t mind being neglected.

As a new university year begins, top of the agenda is getting the kids settled.

While putting the basics in place, why not add some green indoor plants? Research suggests that the presence of house plants can boost the attention span.

According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology in the United States, researchers set up one group in a room with plants and another in a room without plants. After running some tasks that required reading and memorising, writing and recall, those in the ‘plant room’ improved their attentional capacity while those in a room without plants, did not.

The theory is that when one’s attention is drawn in a random way to diverse aspects in ‘naturalistic environments’ such as foliage and flowers, the attention system is rested and rejuvenated, helping you to be more effective when needing to pay direct attention to a task.

To put it simply, houseplants can make you smarter.

Students being students, it’s unlikely they will want to potter around the pot plants. So, you need to choose some real toughies that survive neglect.

Here are some suggestions:

Delicious monsters ( Monstera) are not only tough, they are trendy, because of their Instagram-worthy textured leaves dotted with holes, hence the common name of Swiss Cheese plant.  Besides the big daddy there are mini versions like Monstera adansonii and Minima, for smaller workspaces.

This easy to care for plant likes a stable indoor temperature on the humid side, indirect light,  and watering once a week, less in winter. They are also very good air purifiers.

The ZZ plant (Zamioculcas) actually tops the list of tough plants, being almost indestructible. It copes with low light or just artificial light, high humidity, periods of drought, and variable temperatures. Only water when the top few centimetres of the potting mix feels dry.

The shiny, dark green leaves have a waxy look and new growth is a lighter green, creating an attractive contrast. Keep the leaves looking shiny  and healthy by feeding with pot-plant food once every six months.

Rhipsalis baccifera’ s common name is mistletoe cactus, and that should give you a hint as to its hardiness. It grows into a full plant that trails over the edge of the pot. A nice table filler. It needs bright indirect light and a warm room. A good idea is to place the pot on a saucer filled with pebbles and water to provide humidity.

Everyone knows mother-in-law’s-tongue, don’t they? If you look closer, you’ll find that Sansevieria are intriguingly patterned plants with variegated leaves, some with splashes of yellow, or white as well as dwarf varieties and some with leaves that look like needles.

This plant likes it dry and over-watering can actually kill it. It thrives in low to medium light. The ultimate low maintenance plant.

Oh, yes and it has the amazing ability to absorb carbon dioxide at night and release oxygen, which refreshes the air and lets us sleep better at night.

The graceful Areca palm is surprisingly tolerant of neglect. It does best being close to a window for good, filtered light and it receives good, filtered light and sitting the pot on a saucer filled with bark chips helps with humidity.

These palms grow into good sized specimens and to appreciate their graceful fronds they need space. Water regularly and let the soil dry out slightly between watering. Over-watering turns the leaf tips yellow. It also absorbs carbon dioxide at night and releases oxygen.

Anthurium, also known as the flamingo flower, provides both colour and glossy heart=shaped green leaves to beautify a tabletop or desk. It is one of those indestructible house plants that may well last until graduation and will flower on and off all year. It needs medium light and the soil can dry out between watering. Rather that, than drowning it.

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