Why are plants good for mental health?
Caring for something, a plant, an animal, or a friend, releases a certain hormone called Oxytocin. This is ‘the love hormone’ and is that happy feeling you get when you spend time with your friends, family, or pet.
Also, a bacterium in plant soil called ‘Mycobacterium vaccae’ triggers the release of serotonin, the happiness chemical that lifts your mood. Literally just being around plants can alleviate symptoms of depression.
How do I look after my plants?
There are three main steps to plant care, but they are more complex than you think.
We all know that plants stay alive by a process called photosynthesis; whereby they transfer sunlight into food. That means the right sunlight is vital for your plants.
Different plants need different levels of sunlight. The key is to research your plant name and find out what it wants.
- Too little sunlight. If your plant is based in a shady area or too far to the back of your room, it’s not going to be happy. It’s going to wilt and look all sad.
- Too much sunlight/direct sunlight. If your plant is a bit of a recluse, giving it a sunny spot is going to upset it. It’s going to dry out or get burnt leaves.
Another thing to watch out for: Clogged leaves. If you’re not cleaning your plant properly, the light won’t be able to reach the leaves and won’t be able to do any of that nifty photosynthesis stuff. Plants need a regular wipe down off their leaves to rid them of built up dust. Normally the rain fall does this for them, but houseplants don’t have the same conditions.
The same with sunlight, different plants need different levels of water. You need to research what it wants.
- Too little water. If your plant isn’t getting enough water, it’s going to wilt and hang down, or it’s going to turn dry and crispy and prune up like when you stay in the bath for too long.
- Too much water. If you’re plant is getting too much water or it’s not draining properly, then it’s going to turn yellow and soggy.
Key tip: drainage pots! Drainage pots have little holes in the bottom, so if you place a plate or a tray underneath it or a second pot without holes, then your plant can drain away any excess water it doesn’t want. It’s also a good way to check if your plant is thirsty. Place some water in the tray or pot and the plant will only drink up what it wants. Dry tray? It’s thirsty! Wet tray? Leave it alone.
Plants need to be fertilised. You can pick up any common houseplant fertiliser from nearly any store. Make sure to read the directions and make sure to find out how much your plant needs fertilising. Some need it every week, some need it every 6 months.
What plants should I get?
A snake plant is an easy plant to take care of because it can be quite forgiving, it can withstand periods of low water or low sunlight. It can also grow large if you’re looking for a big plant.
Monkey Leaf Monstera
Monkey Leaf Monsteras grow large and grand without the need for frequent fertilisation. They need to be cared for though, if you’re looking for one to care for.
Cacti’s are student favourites because they like to be left alone. They look pretty and provide the benefits the plant ownership, but like to be watered very little.
Fiddle-Leaf Fig Plant
The Fiddle-Leaf Fig is a grand plant, but doesn’t like to be fussed. It can withstand low conditions and doesn’t like to be watered that often.
Philodendrons are very pretty plants to own, with large leaves than hang and grow downwards. They grow very fast, but do need to be looked after well, including frequent pruning.
The Devil’s Ivy is also a grand hanging plant, but is lower maintenance and only needs to be watered once a week.
A Spider Plant can be large, but needs very low maintenance and is very forgiving.
Where do I get some plants?
The SU Plant Sale
The University of Manchester’s Student Union often hold large plant sales in the Student Union’s Foyer. They offer a wide variety of plants in all different sizes for cheap prices. They also sell plant pots and compost there too. Be sure to get there early though, as these sales are often very busy.
Flourish has two stores: in Deansgate and in the Northern Quarter. They sell a wide variety of plants for the cheapest prices, as well plant pots, compost, hanging baskets and flowers. They main store in Deansgate often give out free plants that are in need of some TLC.
Nice Things is located in the Northern Quarter. These plants are more expensive, but if you’re an experienced plant owner and looking for some impressive plants, this is the place to go. They also sell artistic plant pots, ranging from clay faces to staircase illusions.
Northern flower shop
The Northern Flower Shop is located in the Northern Quarter. This sells a smaller selection of plants, mainly cacti, succulents, peace lilies and hanging plants. Down in the basement have a large selection of free plant pots for re-potting and large bags of compost for cheap prices. They also sell dried flowers.