Having some plants in your life can truly brighten your day. That is, of course, if they’re healthy plants. No one loves to come home to their cactus they’ve been trying to resurrect for the past week to find a dozen spikes have fallen off. 

Being a successful plant parent can seem like a daunting task. While you may have been unsuccessful in the past or chalked up your lack of plant life to a “black thumb," there is still hope for you. 

Whether you are trying to start a plant collection, revive the few that are already on your windowsill or you’re a plant connoisseur, there is always information out there that can help you become the best plant parent possible. 

Sophomore Evan Sklar has been building his plant collection since his freshman year at Gonzaga, and through his journey to becoming a father of six plants, he’s learned a few things about keeping plants healthy while also dealing with the often-chaotic college lifestyle. 

Sklar prefers foliage over blooming plants, as he finds nurturing and watching them grow more gratifying rather than a “one and done” bloom. 

“Foliage plants are great because you can see the growth in them each day,” Sklar said. “They need a lot of water and sunlight, but the work is worth it to be able to watch the plant thrive.” 

Sklar has developed a solution to the pesky, "How do I keep my plants alive over winter break?" issue. The only tools you need are an unopened plastic water bottle and a thumbtack.

“So, you poke a hole in the bottom of the water bottle with a thumbtack,” Sklar said. “Then, you put the water bottle thumbtack hole side down in the dirt, it slowly drips out water and you can feel good knowing your plant will make it through break.” 

Succulents are widely regarded as being the easiest plant to care for, yet Sklar favors cacti over succulents, especially for students just starting their plant collections. 

“I have succulents, but I also have a cactus, which is the better succulent,” Sklar said. “All they need is a little bit of water every few days and you’re good to go.” 

Sklar suggested starting a plant family to any college student, and firmly believes they improve your quality of life, as well as the aesthetic of your room. 

Sophomore Ally McCullen has been collecting and caring for plants since her sophomore year of high school. McCullen and her older sister often go to their local plant store together in Portland, Oregon. Thus, her love of plants blossomed from their time spent together. 

McCullen has 13 different plants in her apartment. She approaches caring for her plants the way a mother would care for her child. 

“It’s just like caring for anything else,” McCullen said. “It takes a little bit of time and a little bit of love.” 

McCullen suggested taking the time to do some research on your plants before you go out and buy them. Look into the kind of care they need and their optimal environment. McCullen’s top plant recommendations for GU students are succulents — if you have access to natural light — and snake plants, which thrive without much sunlight or water. 

Another pro tip from McCullen: different plants need different kinds of pots. Plants that don’t need much water, such as succulents, snake plants and cacti, do well in terra cotta pots, because the material is absorbent and can suck up any extra water. Plants that need more water do better in a glazed pot, as it isn’t so open and porous. 

McCullen’s go-to plant store in Spokane is Parrish and Grove at 19 W. Main Ave. for its wide selection of plants, as well as a price range that can fit within a college budget. 

She suggested spending the bulk of money on the plant itself, and saving money on pots, which can often be the big-ticket items. She recommended Home Depot for inexpensive pots, and while you’re there, you can pick up some art supplies to design your pots. 

“Taking care of plants is like caring for a pet,” McCullen said. “You take the time to care for them because you love them and want to see them flourish. If you make sure to do your research, cater to their needs and give them some love, that’s all any great plant parent would do.”

Audrey Measer is a staff writer.

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