By Grace Stafford, Features Editor —
House plants are taking over dorms across campus in students’ searches for a warm and inviting living space.
Some students, like Cayley Wright a senior from Smyrna, Tennessee, found that her plant collection grew slowly.
“The first plant I owned was in my dorm that I got from the Chattanooga Market in 2016,” said Wright. “My collection actually grew really slow, I got a couple cactuses and one other succulent, and then all of a sudden when I moved into my new house, I realized that plants from Home Depot are super cheap.”
Wright is up to 10 plants in her apartment currently which hardly rivals the collection of Shannon Sweeney, a sophomore from Franklin, Tennessee. With the combined efforts of her three roommates, their collection in the Boling apartment is nearing 40 plants.
“Plants really make the space feel bigger and brighter,” said Sweeney. “When I was getting ready to move into my dorm, I decided that the best way to make the room seem bigger and warmer is lights, mirrors and plants. We like to say that we have the most oxygenated dorm on campus.”
Thomas Weigand, a sophomore from Knoxville, also enjoys the brightness and positivity a plant can add to a room.
“Since I’ve come to college I think I’ve spent a few hundred dollars on plants, but I’m not mad about it because they put a smile on my face, they put a smile on my friends’ faces, they legitimately just light up the room,” said Weigand. “People will walk by and say ‘oh I love your little garden’ and I think it just makes people happy so I don’t mind the cost.”
Weigand is a double major in French and Environmental Science at UTC, and his work in the latter has only encouraged his passion for house plants.
“Starting in freshman year, I worked for Dr. Shaw who is one of the professors in the environmental science department where I started doing some type of botany work, working with plant specimens, and really got me interested in it,” said Weigand. “I’ve always been a little interested as it just generally makes me happy. I just love anything that has to do with plants in general.”
For beginners, Weigand recommends ivies and succulents along with plenty of research ahead of time.
“You definitely have to do a bit of research to know how to best take care of them all, but the ones I have are pretty easy to take care of,” said Weigand. “Just watering them and feeding them on a regular basis.”
Sweeney echoed Weigand’s advice and added, “My main advice is to not get disheartened that you have a black thumb if you’ve killed plants in the past, don’t be afraid to try again.”
Sweeney suggests ZZ plants, pothos and snake plants for a beginner as they do not need too much sunlight or attention. Her favorite plant she owns, though, is her monstera deliciosa that she found at the Chattanooga Market.
“I buy most of my plants in Chattanooga from the Barn Nursery as they carry a lot of different types and sizes,” said Sweeney. “But I have also had really good luck finding beautiful plants from that one guy at the Chattanooga Market.”
As Sweeney and Weigand live in dorms, they acknowledge it can be tough to take care of their plants over breaks, but still find the experience to be worth it.
“It’s also just really fun and rewarding to see them grow,” said Sweeney.
While house plants do offer brightness to a room and happiness for their owners, they also offer a sense of control to their owners that may otherwise feel like they are struggling in school.
“You’ve gotta fill the void somehow,” said Wright. “I have nothing else, so this is my thing.”