Plants improve pandemic experience

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Some students say that plant ownership has benefited them during the pandemic.

As Michigan’s coronavirus cases continue to rise, some Michigan State students are eager to be quarantined with their favorite house plants.

House plants can serve various purposes to their owners – catching flies, improving air quality, to just decorating the room.

Raven Nelson’s plant collection.  Photo Courtesy of Raven Nelson.

Raven Nelson, a sophomore at MSU, began caring for plants in the past year.

“I tried to do plants before the pandemic, and they always died,” she said. “So, then I was like, ‘well, now I’m going to actually try to keep a plant alive.’ I like the benefits of them – I think they look really pretty. I like having plants over having wall decorations or anything.”

Nelson also spoke to the mental health benefits she felt plant ownership had provided, saying that when she’s in a “mental rut every now and then, I’m like, ‘well, I could go buy a plant.’”

Brock Imel, a junior, had similar experiences with plants.

“I wasn’t super into plants, I would just try to grow things here and there,” he said. “But I think since the pandemic, I’ve definitely been more into it and have been a little more successful.”

Imel also suggested that some other students could benefit from plant care.

“It’s definitely something that you have to be into, because it’s something you have to take care of,” he said. “But I think even just buying like an air plant would be kind of nice, because it changes your environment a bit, it gives your environment a little bit more color – I know that was kind of why I got my plants.”

Cooper Burton, a sophomore, felt similarly about the benefits of plant ownership.

“Now that we’re inside all day, making your spaces as cool and refreshing as possible – I think everyone could benefit from that,” he said.

Burrton spoke to his personal experiences with house plants.

“I liked the idea of having a plant before the pandemic, but I never really got any until the pandemic happened and then I got a bunch all at once,” he said.

“I think it makes the space a lot more peaceful. I live in a single dorm room, so it’s kind of small and can feel cramped and I think having plants definitely opens the space up, and makes the space feel more welcoming. It makes it feel more like a home.”

The positive experiences of these students are also backed up by numerous studies examining the mental impact of having plants around, even during the pandemic specifically.

A 2021 study by professors at  the Iran University of Science and Technology found that “the kitchen, view quality, exercise and maintenance of plants have the greatest impact on improving mental health” for those spending prolonged time at home.