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The houseplant that started it all.

Quarantine has been a great excuse to explore new hobbies. From learning to sew to trying out film photography, it has

been an adventure discovering new things in the comfort of my home.

Caring for indoor plants has become one of my favorite activities. Not only does it liven up your living space, but according to Psychology Today, it can improve concentration, lessen symptoms of depression and enhance self-esteem.

I was first inspired to decorate my room with plants after seeing posts on social media. I had friends whose rooms and houses felt more cheerful with indoor gardens and wanted that for myself. Pinterest was a great way to find ideas on how to get started.

My mom had an office plant that needed some TLC after the pandemic left offices empty — not a great place for nurturing greenery. I took it in and immediately felt my room become more full of life.

Since then, my plant is alive and well, and my collection has grown with the addition of two more plants: a golden pothos and a majesty palm. They have also helped balance the room out and fill empty space.

If you’re interested in adding some foliage to your home, here are some tips to get you started:

Know your soil

Most indoor greenery favors moist soil. Sticking your finger an inch in the dirt to see how dry it is is a good way to know when your plant needs watering and is more effective than keeping a calendar, which may lead to over or under watering. Drainage is also important when choosing a pot to prevent root rot from overwatering.

Soil balanced with the right minerals and microbes is key to a plant’s growth. Fertilizing your plants doesn’t have to mean adding manufactured products or chemicals to the soil; there are a few tricks to fertilize on a budget with natural household items. Every plant’s needs are different, but the minerals found in banana peels can act as a fertilizer for almost anything. Simply place the peel in water and let it sit for a few hours. Watering the plants with this mixture can help vegetation become more resistant to drought and pests, and help leaves stay vibrant and green.

Consider placement and lighting

Sunlight is an important component to keeping your plant alive.

Some plants require more light than others, so it is important to research the species and the conditions of its natural habitat. If your room is not the best source of natural light, try some plants that require little to no sunlight, such as the resilient and spiky snake plant, a leafy parlor palm, or elegant devil’s ivy. Either way, having an excuse to open the blinds a bit and let sunlight pour in is great for you and your friends with chlorophyll.

Learn when to water

Watering largely depends on your plant; succulents and cactuses thrive in desert environments, which is great for Santa Fe, and require very little watering. Meanwhile, leafier plants such as a flowery cyclamen need a heavy, frequent soak.

Typically the larger and leafier, the more a plant will benefit from regular watering. I usually run my plants under the faucet for a minute or two, drain them out and wait until the soil is dry again. For my bigger plant, I empty a water bottle into the soil whenever it’s not moist, which has worked well to keep it happy and green.

After spending more time indoors and watching my plants grow, I have learned to appreciate having a more vibrant living space. These natural additions have helped my room become less empty during quarantine, giving me a sense of relief and confidence knowing I can care for something with my own hands.

Sofia Barker is a sophomore at the Academy for Technology and the Classics. Contact her at sofiabarker8@gmail.com.

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