Q & A: Plant expert talks benefits of owning plants for students, Plant Adoption Day

September 12, 2018 By Kayla Huynh

Plants are like superheroes. They provide us with oxygen and are an essential resource for all human life on Earth.

They’re also beneficial for the well-being of students, too, according to plant expert Elin Meliska. She works at Allen Centennial Garden, UW–Madison’s artful living laboratory and public botanical garden within the Horticulture Department.

In collaboration with the Leopold Greenhouse Learning Community, University Housing and UW-Extension’s Master Gardener program, Allen Centennial Garden will be hosting a Plant Adoption Day, which will provide a free house plant to 500+ UW–Madison students. 

With Plant Adoption Day coming up this Friday, Sept. 14, we reached out to Meliska on the power of plants and why students should take advantage of the upcoming program.

The event will run from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Allen Centennial Garden. Make sure to bring your WisCard and arrive early — plants will be given away on a first come, first served basis!

Q: What are the benefits for students to own a plant?

A: Owning a plant is like having a green study buddy. Being around plants improves concentration, memory and productivity. And having plants in your room or study space can increase memory retention by up to 20 percent.

Being around plants also makes you less stressed, leading to lower ratings of pain, anxiety and fatigue. So, take that finals!

Plants improve air quality and increase humidity as well, which can be a lifesaver during the long Wisconsin winter.

Q: What can students learn from taking care of a plant?

A: Being a plant parent can be a rewarding experience. It comes with a unique set of responsibilities and teaches you how to care for another living thing — they can’t survive off Easy-Mac and coffee like you do!

Q: What should students know before they take a plant home?

A: Know how much sun you get wherever you want to put the plant. Observe the spot at different times of day and see how long it stays sunny. Wondering why your succulents suck? Well, you’re probably not getting it enough light.

All plants also have different watering requirements — know how much water your plant needs and how often it needs to be watered.

Cut off the dead stuff. Dead leaves or stems on a plant slow its growth and can kill the plant. If you notice a dead or sad looking leaf or stem, cut it off. You’ll be doing the plant a favor.