Plants Need Water (and other things)

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With promises of fall sweaters and pumpkin-flavored everything, the leaves outside are starting to turn a brilliant red and orange. Unfortunately, the leaves on our indoor plants have also decided to change. We are less excited about this. Spoiler alert — bamboo should not turn red, brown, or orange. In search of help, we turned to the experts for tips and tricks on plant care and ownership. Whether you’re looking to buy a new plant or keep your existing plants healthy, hopefully this list helps your babies grow and thrive!

Lucky Bamboo

Lucky Bamboo is – as we were told by the nice man at the PBHA plant sale – one of the easiest plants to take care of! It can be trained into different designs and swirls and symbolizes good luck and happiness. Some common care tips recommend that the bamboo is potted in rocks and watered pretty frequently, so that it never really dries out. Experts suggest that you remove the water every 7-10 days and replace it with fresh water. This plant prefers indirect sunlight and is an ideal houseplant.


Next up is Pothos, another houseplant that is supposedly great for beginners! These plants are fairly flexible in terms of sunlight, but it is recommended to keep them in either indirect or low light. People grow Pothos either in soil or water and clippings can be taken and propagated, meaning instant new plants! Woohoo! Water your Pothos when the top soil starts to dry out, but be careful not to overwater it and make sure that the pot has good drainage.

Coffee Plant

Don’t buy a coffee plant or any tropical foliage unless you’re committed to being a full-time plant mom. They’re sensitive – to light, to water, and to your insults. If you try to grow a tropical plant in Cambridge-fall weather, it will die. And then you’ll have to plan a funeral as you toss the dry bundle of leaves into your basement dumpster and wonder where your plant parenting strategy failed (totally not speaking from experience here).


Orchids are flowering plants – they’re pretty and add color to your room, but require a lot of effort to take care of. The best advice for keeping your orchid healthy is putting it in a windowsill that faces either east or west for bright light and feeding it every week with flower food. Orchids don’t grow well in regular soil — you’ll typically find them growing in a mixture of small rocks and bits of wood called orchid mix. If the plant stops flowering, it’s a sign that you need to repot your orchid in fresh orchid mix! Orchids prefer dry soil, so water them sparingly. Try just putting an ice cube in the soil to melt every other week or so.

Bonsai Tree

Bonsai trees are cute tiny trees that look super cool. But they are a little more temperamental than some aforementioned plants. That being said, if you are up to the challenge of raising a Bonsai tree, there are a few things you should know. Typically, Bonsai trees should be placed on the windowsill of a south-facing window, but realistically the most important thing is that it gets a lot of light. The tree also requires high humidity, but that should not be a problem here considering our recent weather. You should water your tree when the soil becomes slightly dry and pay close attention to the state of the soil.


When life succs, buy one. A succulent will forgive you even if you forget to water it or forget it exists all together (not that you should). Among the most resistant and resilient of plants, succulents like bright light and dry soil that is well-drained (continuously wet soil can rot their roots). Spray your succulent with water every 2-4 days or let it soak up water in a different container every few weeks and dry out over time. You really can’t mess this one up. If you do, give up and buy a pet rock, dude.

Are we qualified to give you advice on plant care? Unclear (No). Should you listen to us anyway? Definitely. Expert or not, one thing we know for sure is that our plants have made our dorm rooms (and us) so much happier! If you’re holding back because you’re worried about the responsibility of plant-care, just remember, unlike children, if you neglect or accidentally kill your plant, you can just buy a new one and try again. Plants don’t judge or have feelings (at least, we think).

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