Students can use ‘Ask a Gardener’ tool to learn proper plant care

Photo credit: Liesje Powers

By Kaitlyn DeHaven | Design Editor

Plants are a great addition to any room or yard, bringing vitality and life to an empty space. But keeping plants alive in a dorm room or an apartment seems to be more difficult —you need to know how to care for them and which plants work best in a small space with limited lighting.

Luckily, the Texas Master Gardener Program has developed a program to help inform locals, including Baylor students, about how to keep their plants green and healthy, or even how to take care of a plant if they don’t know where to start.

The program, founded by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension of Texas A&M University, was created to make horticultural information more accessible to inexperienced gardeners and to contribute many gardening projects in the community. One of the ways the Texas Master Gardener Program helps the area stay is with their “Ask a Master Gardener” hotline where confused gardeners can call and have their questions answered by a trained gardening professional.

Merle Chapman, who has been a master gardener for about seven years, said she took the position because she loves plants, but she had to go through a series of classes before she could earn her title.

“They have a program every other year where you go through a series of classes for about three months, every Wednesday, for about four hours each,” Chapman said. “We have speakers, a book to guide us and we take field trips. It’s really an educational program.”

Chapman said although the hotline gets many calls from people who have houses and lawns, they do not receive many calls from college students. She said, with the right plant and the right amount of light, college students can keep plants alive in their dorm rooms.

For dorm room foliage, Chapman recommends Green Leaf Ivy, African Violets, corn plants or schefflera. There is also a Master Gardeners gardening blog to answer any other questions.

Alex Lebourdais, an employee at Seed + Supply, a shop at the Magnolia Market, said she has ivies of her own and that from her experience, she’s learned one of the best indoor plants to care for.

“They grow so fast and they stay alive very easily,” Lebourdais said. “I water mine once a week and it’s flourishing—every time I turn around it’s longer than it was before.”

Sealy junior Taylor Thompson has nine plants in her apartment and three she cares for at her family’s home, said she enjoys taking care of her plants instead of having to care for an animal such as a dog or a cat.

“Plants are much easier to take care of and they don’t ruin my things, like carpet and such,” Thompson said. “Plus, everyone likes them when they come over and I never have to worry about someone being allergic.”

For students who have decided they want to add some green foliage to their home but are not exactly sure how to start, the “Ask a Master Gardener” hotline is 254-757-5180. The hotline is open from 1:30-4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.