the benefits of plant parenting


Photography by Evan Seabeck

Green light fills the room, reflecting off the walls and illuminating faces as incandescent
chatter ensues. For a dorm, this space feels a bit homier than expected. A collection of
baby succulents stands on the windowsill, offset with a charismatic sign that reads
“Succulent Mama.” Ah, that’s it: the plant thing again.
This isn’t the first dorm room turned greenhouse at Kent State. In some rooms, petite
succulents gather in rows. In others, structural statement plants pose in the corner.
Garlands of ivy hang from ceilings and flowers cluster in jars.
Let’s just say, plants are popular.
Plants literally add life to a room, which may explain why they’re a standout trend in
interior design. Studies show the benefits of keeping them around are numerous.
According to NBC News, having indoor plants can help increase productivity and
improve peoples’ moods. Still, is that all? Have college kids always turned to plants as a
means of cheap, green decor?
“I think it was a very niche group, however, considering the current state of the
environment and pollution, people are now focused on going green and bringing plants
into their space,” said Remi Meeker, a sophmore fashion design student.
It is no secret the spotlight has turned on sustainability in most conversation circles,
pushing people to go green in any way they can. Years ago, many had never even
heard of a succulent. Now, they are at the top of many shopping lists.
Meeker also credits the natural effects of plants for their transition into mainstream
“For me, having plants brightens up the space naturally.” Meeker said. “Also, I
personally get seasonal depression, so having something to take care of helps me to
refocus on taking care of myself as well.”
Meeker is not alone. Many students, including sophomore fashion design major Cait
Kennedy, find that plants boost their mental well-being.
“Having plants energizes my mood, keeps me productive and maintains my happiness,”
Kennedy said. “Consistently taking care of a plant and watching it grow brings me joy
and motivation as I am constantly reminded that growth and change takes time.”’

According to a 2015 study from the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, interacting
with houseplants can help reduce physiological and psychological stress by
suppressing the sympathetic nervous system and decreasing blood pressure, which
stimulates feelings of comfort.
As the push for green is reflected in this constantly changing world, it is also cultivated
in people’s personal spaces, one dorm windowsill at a time.