Entertainment: Indoor gardening: a plant-rich hobby (05/05/22)

The Charles Hutson Horticulture Greenhouse sees many Southeast students looking for plants to keep in their dorms. Most come out with some kind of succulent.

Photo by Kailyn Veach

Moving into a dorm or apartment doesn’t mean giving up the love of gardening. Whether it’s buying shelving, caring for low-light species, or even choosing a roost based on how much sunlight the room receives, there are plenty of ways to fill the greenery interior.

Ellie Dirnbeck, head of corporate communications and psychology, said she kept plants in her dorm for two years and found ways to make sure, no matter how small the space, that they had enough space to grow and thrive.

“Most of the plants in my first year were on the windowsill. My second year, there was a huge window in my room, so I was able to put a plant stand there with lots of shelves. I I was able to put several plants in the sun and put a few on the windowsill,” Dirnbeck said. “I probably have a smaller window in my house now than I did my second year on campus.”

Having plants indoors doesn’t always mean sunshine and rainbows. Dirnbeck said that while keeping a garden indoors can come with its own set of challenges, the positive impact on her mental health is worth it.

“My Golden Goddess [plant], it’s my second, because the first one I had in the dorm is actually dead. Some plants are a bit more temperamental as they change pots and get used to them, and this is just one of them,” Dirnbeck said. “But every time I wake up in the morning, I love greens and the brightness they bring to my bedroom.”

Although common, entry-level houseplants include several species of succulents, cacti, and others like spider plants. The coveted few rays of sunshine in the roosts also fuel the growth of trees and carnivorous plants.

Biology sophomore Wren Simkins said she didn’t consider herself an advanced gardener and took up the hobby on a whim. Simkins learned how to care for each of her plants through trial and error, using Google as a resource.

“If you ask an expert, they’re going to give you crazy advice. Many plants can take much more neglect than this. But they react to random things in weird ways,” Simkins said. “I killed an insect and put it in one of the little mouths of the carnivorous plants, and that head of the plant died. I learned that you can’t force this stuff.

Simkins aspires to grow their favorite tree – the papaya they currently have – and the myrrh tree whose publication is biblical, despite the difficulties they have noted in obtaining reliable seeds in the United States.

“You never meet someone who has cultivated a myrrh tree. You can’t find them in stores, you can’t find them in botanical gardens. They are native to the Middle East and propagated for their sap, but they are difficult to propagate,” Simkins said. “The sap has different grades, and you can’t get good myrrh sap very easily in the United States because they’ll all mark it as the same grade.”

Outside of the world of succulents, spider plants, and cacti, if tree propagation doesn’t call, there are still options for houseplants. Several species of flowering plants, including trailing snapdragon and various begonias, thrive in low-light environments, making them perfect for even the most shady dorms.

Alyssa Wiggins, Senior Horticulture, Plant and Soil Science, works with the Charles Hutson Horticultural Greenhouse to study and care for a wide variety of plants. Wiggins said many students come into the greenhouse looking for plants to keep in their dorms.

“All of our succulents are good because they stay quite small and they’re cute and don’t need to be watered very often,” Wiggins says. “We also have a few little trails; there are different textures and colors you can get.

For locations with little sun exposure, Wiggins suggests choosing a plant that grows in the shade or setting aside time to bring the plants outside when the sun is up.

“I think a lot of success comes from choosing the right plant. If you know its requirements, once you start being a bit with the factory, it can give you some signals,” Wiggins said. “Just listen to your plants. That’s all you have to do to take care of them.

The Charles Hutson Horticultural Greenhouse sells a variety of plants to Southeast students and the community. For more information, visit their Facebook page. For more information on plant care and the horticulture department, visit the SEMO website.