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Thursday, June 13, 2024

If you’re looking to revamp your home decor and your attitude, the resolution could be simple: Liven up your living space.

Adding living things to an apartment or dorm makes people feel better, experts say, and it’s no question that they add something personal as well. And if cleaning dirty hamster cages and fish tanks isn’t your thing, try something simple. Get a plant.

”[Plants] can give people a sense of purpose to know there is a living thing depending on them,” said Jeffery Hubbard, UF greenhouse manager.

Even if you’re not an expert gardener, there are only a few simple things to remember. First, Hubbard said, there are certain varieties that are best suited to dorm and apartment life.

“You want to get something that’s been grown in shade and is already adapted to those conditions,” Hubbard said. “The harder to kill the better.”

Hubbard advised going to a small, local nursery to select plants. Generally, he said, employees there will have a deeper knowledge of the needs of each type of plant and can do a better job of matching you with a suitable green friend. In Gainesville, Hubbard recommended Garden Gate Nursery and Harmony Gardens.

After selecting a plant, the next step is finding the right place to put it.

There is a “recipe” for each plant, according to Garry Trafford, who has been selling plants at farmers markets across the state for 20 years, including at the Union Street Farmers Market, which is open every Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in downtown Gainesville.

Lucky bamboo,  a variety that’s actually not a bamboo at all, flourishes in low-light environments, Trafford said. Bonsai is another plant that’s good for plant keepers who are limited by space constraints, such as students and office workers. Plants that are also easily maintained in small areas include the bromeliad, orchid, ficus, aglaonema, sanseviera (or snake plant), dracena and chamaedorea palms.

Price also makes these “pets” suitable for any budget, as they start at $6 each.

Just keep in mind, it’s not always “the wetter the better,” Hubbard said.

“Over-watering probably kills more plants than anything else,” he said. To avoid this, test the soil with your finger. If it feels moist to the touch, it’s finished drinking.

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