House plants for college students

Photo by Emma Calvert

By Emma Calvert

Houseplants can make any living space more inviting: from a dorm room to an apartment. Taking care of something living can be rewarding, but too often houseplants end up in the hands of students who have little to no idea of how to care for anything living other than  themselves.

With enough research, you can figure out what types of plants are best suited for your living space and lightsource, and how to keep those houseplants happy.

Organized below is an explanation on the types of light that come from the four cardinal points and what type of plants may be well suited for each.

NORTH-FACING WINDOWS

Looking toward Canada, northern windows get no direct sunlight. Northeastern and northwestern windows may get some sun during mornings and afternoons respectively. Due to this, low-light plants that are suited for temperate or cooler environments are best fit for north-facing windows.

Foliage plants are usually content with this lighting, especially low-light ferns, maranta or vines. Examples of these are maidenhair ferns, prayer plants and most types of ivy.

EAST-FACING WINDOWS

Eastern windows have the most sun coming through them in the morning thanks to the sunrise. These windows are best suited for plants that need light, but nothing intense. The sun coming from this direction is usually soft, diffused and cool as the sun has not had much time to warm the air. Many times, plants that thrive in northern windows can do just as well in eastern ones.

Plants best suited for this lightsource are quite similar to northern light, once again ferns, maranta or vines. Other plants that are well-suited for east-facing windows could be philodendrons and ivies.

SOUTH-FACING WINDOWS

With the way the sun rises and sets, southern windows get the most direct sun of all cardinal directions. The intensity of the sun coming from these windows can be a little much for many plants, but those suited to more arid regions may thrive. These plants typically need to be watered infrequently, even less so in the winter.

Some plants that would work wonderfully in south-facing windows are succulents and cacti. Popular examples are echeveria, aloe vera and pincushion cactus.

WEST-FACING WINDOWS

Much like eastern windows, west-facing windows do not get as much light. The chief difference is that afternoon and evening sun has time to build up heat and intensity; therefore, it can easily damage or burn plants, especially in summer months.

Air plants are usually happy in western windows, although they may be equally as happy in south windows. Other plants that may fare well are ficus, cacti and succulents.

Photo by Emma Calvert

Houseplants are often seen as simple decoration, but they can be so much more. Usually, plants will tell you exactly what they want. Whether it is more water, less water, more sun or help from bugs: plants are reactive. If you take note of how your houseplants change and grow, you can be quick to figure out what makes them happiest and healthiest.

This should serve as a jumping off point into your own home gardening, armed with the knowledge that your houseplants can be happy anywhere with the right conditions and care. With a little research and a lot of patience, you can confidently state that you have a green thumb.

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