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Dorm Room Gardens

By Kate Daugherty

God calls His followers to take care of His creations and be stewards of the Earth (Genesis 1:26-28, NIV). Taking care of plants not only works to fulfill God’s request but a routine to life. 

Catherine Martinez, senior creative writing and fine arts double major, has over 20 plants in her Whittier dorm room. She works to spread the joy of plants with her friends by propagating her plants – taking small parts of her own plants and repotting them in pots she made in ceramics class.

“In freshman or sophomore year, I wanted a succulent garden and went to Walmart to get five or six small ones that I put in a pot together,” Martinez said. She loves to take care of her plants even if each plant requires its own type of care. 

A popular type of plant to have on campus are members of the succulent family, as they do not need a lot of water, but love to soak up sunshine. A fern or potted plant, on the other hand, needs a regular watering schedule, and an indoor vine plant needs both a strong watering routine and lots of sunlight.

Having plants in the dorm room is beneficial to the human inhabitants of the space in many ways, such as the resulting air exchange. Through the process of photosynthesis, plants and humans work together to provide air for each other. According to NASA, plants work to remove up to 87% of volatile organic compounds toxins from a room every 24 hours.

Decorating a room with a plant also brightens your living space. Coralee Hochstedler, junior communications arts and global and international studies double major, has plants at her home and in her dorm room because she loves the power plants have to brighten a room.

“I like having plants – it spices up a room and makes it feel bright and brings life to a room,” Hochstedler said. “My grandma was a big planter and [my family] got to have some of her plants when she passed, so it feels like we are continuing her legacy with the generational plants.”

Last spring, when students were sent home because of COVID-19, it gave Hochstedler a chance to get more plants to care for. She admits she still is learning about the different needs of all her plants, but she enjoys the process.

The COVID-19 pandemic also allowed for new plant owners to develop a passion for caring for God’s creation. Mitch Bodager, sophomore business administration and marketing double major, got interested in plants after encouragement from his sister. He has found that he enjoys the aspect of watching something that he cares for grow and thrive.

“While there is a need for a routine, as long as caring for them is not a chore, you can never have too many [plants],” Bodager said. Keeping a routine involving watering and caring for each individual plant was mentioned by Martinez, Hochstedler and Bodager. 

“I have a variety of plants, so I try to get on a regular schedule to water all of [them],” Martinez said. “Some only need water every few days, others need daily watering.”

“Having my watering schedule for my plants is a reminder to take care of myself; seeing the plants that I’m taking care of grow and flourish [reminds me] that I can help myself too,” Hochstedler said. 

Something to be aware of if owning a plant on campus: the water that comes through the dorm room taps is from the Canton City Water Supply, which carries some minerals that could be harmful to certain sensitive plants. Hochstedler recommends using a faucet filter or buying distilled water to make sure the plants stay healthy.

Martinez, Hochstedler, and Bodager all agree: beginners should start with one plant and just go for it! It will brighten the room and add a new dimension to your living space.

If caring for a real plant becomes too much, many stores also offer fake plants that look like real plants that can decorate a dorm room. There are lots of ways to find a routine and enhanced well-being with a bright, leafy addition to your dorm room!

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