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Sustainability Office Offers Practical Advice on House Plants

Jordan Shearer | Staff Writer | 4-25-2012

Photos by: Kailer Overman

The Sustainability Office recently hosted a traditional skills workshop in which they taught students how to work with and manage houseplants.  BSU Sustainability Coordinator Erika Bailey-Johnson led the workshop.  During the event, participants learned the general characteristics of four different houseplants as well as important information regarding their care.

This is the third year that the Sustainability Office has been hosting traditional skills workshops.  According to Bailey-Johnson, they are largely student-driven, meaning that they are organized either when students show interest in learning about a particular subject or when a student shows interest in teaching a particular skill.  Because of this, they are often taught from personal experience rather than in a formal manner.

Many of the students at the workshop had some connection to the biology and environmental departments on campus, and were interested in the subject for that reason.  Others, however, came because they are trying to grow plants in their rooms.  “Hopefully this will teach me a little bit more about how to take care of plants,” one student said.

The workshop focused on four specific types of plants: Aloe, Pothos, Snake plant, and Spider plant.  Along with a description of each plant’s characteristics, there were some general benefits and considerations mentioned that are important to recognize when caring for a plant.

For example, plants can be very beneficial to air quality by reducing the amount of chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde that are often found in indoor environments. In order for plants to have the maximum air cleaning affect, however, they do need to be either dusted off or sprayed down periodically so that the air does not get blocked from entering the plant.

The owner also needs to be considerate of other factors such as whether the plants will grow too large and become intrusive, or whether a particular kind of plant could be poisonous to a child or pet if it were somehow ingested.

Different kinds of plants have different needs and require different amounts of attention.  Because of this, Bailey-Johnson suggested trying the different varieties.  She said to buy small plants and see how much sunlight, water, and overall care each one needs, and, therefore, which ones would work best for a given person’s particular schedule and living environment.  “It’s kind of one big experiment,” she said.

As a culmination, the participants were able to take part in the process of re-potting plants that needed more space.  They did this by first taking the plant out of its original pot to see if the roots had become too extensive for the amount of soil that they were in.  If they were, the plant was transferred to a larger pot.

Everyone was allowed, and even encouraged, to keep the plants that they had been dealing with during the workshop, all of which were offshoots of Bailey-Johnson’s plants that she grew at home.

Emilie Brouse expressed how well she thought the workshop had gone, stating that she had the opportunity to meet new people as well as learn a lot of valuable information about the plants.
“I’m glad I came,” Brouse said.