A few houseplants that even the busiest student can’t kill
By Cassie Weiss, Features Editor
I’m not a plant person. I mean, I love them, and I have a million of them, but I
struggle every single day to keep them alive. I give them too much love — or not
enough love — and very rarely do I find the delicate balance that keeps them
growing and thriving.
The thing is, I wanted to be a plant person. Especially this semester, being stuck at
home, I really did want to surround myself with foliage that would survive the
winter. So one day, while I was procrastinating on finishing an assignment, I
decided to do some research to see what plants I could successfully keep alive, and
that would benefit my health at the same time.
My problem with cacti is that they are not green enough. They’re pokey, dusty-
coloured and just really have no appeal to me. I wanted bushy, I wanted vibrant
green, I wanted useful. Yes, I did just say useful.
According to an article on You Had Me At Gardening, certain plants have the ability
to remove as much as 87 per cent of toxins out of the air and having at least two
plants per 100 square feet may help with said toxins.
There are specific plants on that list, some of which require more care than others. I
didn’t want plants that came with a list of things needed daily. Like I mentioned
before, I wanted something easy. Could it be easy and beneficial to my health? Of
course it could.
Read on for five beautiful, leafy, hardy plant babies — ones that will live through the
harsh, cold winter, survive the ever-hungry jaws of my four-legged friends and will
help me breathe easier while I pound away at the computer.
These guys were a staple in my house growing up. A spider plant was the first plant
I learned how to propagate because they’re so dang easy to deal with. Hang them in
indirect sunlight, slightly away from a window, water them every few weeks, and
they will be popping out shoots left and right.
Although spider plants are not toxic to pets, I always hang mine. They look nicer,
add dimension to a room and are out of the way of my kitten who loves to eat grass
(and puke it up). However, they can still cause irritation to pets if consumed.
Snake plant (Mother-in-Law’s Tongue)
Similar to the watering habits of a cactus, the snake plant is nearly impossible to
kill. I sometimes forget to water mine for weeks on end. Needing just a tiny bit of
sunlight, it shoots out waxy leaves in a light and dark marbled green, and helps
purify against benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and xylene.
Snake plants are toxic to pets, but my animals seem to leave mine alone.
Not only good for purifying the air of formaldehyde, aloe also holds many other
health benefits. Similar to the snake plant, aloe vera rarely needs watering — and
even less so during its dormant season. Made almost entirely of water, the clear
slime inside this plant’s leaves are full of enzymes, amino acids and vitamins, known
to help rashes, sun burns and other skin conditions. Make sure your aloe has proper
drainage though, because they really don’t like staying wet and our goal is to keep
these babies alive.
Aloe vera is toxic to cats and dogs but similar to the snake plant, my animals tend to
leave this plant alone.
With light or dark green, heart-shaped leaves, these babies are easily one of my
favourite houseplants. Philodendrons need moderate water — I would recommend
maybe once a week or once every two weeks — and indirect sunlight. As long as
they aren’t too close to a cold window, they will do great, and they add that bright
splash of colour to any room.
Philodendrons are toxic to cats and dogs. I would recommend hanging them out of
reach, unless your animals are significantly more polite than mine and don’t eat
everything in sight.
I personally don’t believe any home is complete without some form of ivy plant, and
this one looks good and helps out around the home. Ideal for hanging baskets or
looking down from kitchen cabinets, English ivy only needs to be watered once a
week —or once they dry out — and are comfortable in indirect sunlight.
The English ivy’s toxins are minor to your furry friends, but can still cause vomiting,
excessive salivation and abdominal pain. I recommend keeping out of paw’s reach.