Growing up, I was always surrounded by plants and greenery because of my parents and grandparents’ backyards. I spent countless weekends doing yard work with my family to keep the plants surrounding our yard neatly trimmed and healthy.

Compared to my grandparents’ yard, our backyard greenery was minuscule at best. My grandpa majored in biology with an emphasis in botany in college. Since retiring, he has spent almost every day in his backyard tending to his cacti, fruit trees and vegetable garden, to name just a few. He even built his own greenhouse in order to properly cultivate the myriad of orchids that he has collected over the years. In that sense, I believe it is safe to say that my family truly internalized my love of plants at a young age.

Despite all of this, I never really started caring for plants, that were specifically my own, until my freshman year of college. I have lived in California my whole life so moving away to Flagstaff was a big change for me.

As a going-away memento, my mom gave me a succulent and my best friend gave me an aloe plant. Those two plants were the first of many, as I moved into my dorm room at NAU.

As it turns out, the people that I ended up becoming friends with at NAU also shared my affinity for plants. Over the school year, the plant collections in each of our dorm rooms grew exponentially. We found that our little ecological friends really brightened up any space, no matter how small. Many of us, myself included, were also missing the capability of having pets, and our plants substituted that.

Along with brightening any living space, plants also naturally clean the air around them. According to an online article from Time magazine, there was a NASA experiment conducted in 1989 which concluded that indoor plants are able to scrub the air of certain cancer-causing compounds. Based on the aforementioned research, scientists have said that houseplants can essentially function as natural air purifiers.

Now, my little plants are just part of my life and I am constantly adding to my collection. Since I’ve been home from college, I have already cultivated four new additions and I am sure there will be at least a few more by the time I move back to Flagstaff in August. Currently, my botanical collection consists of an aloe plant, a few succulents, some recently sprouted polka dot plants, an ivy and a spider plant.

Personally, I would encourage anyone and everyone to add at least a couple plants to their home environment. It doesn’t matter if you live in a dorm, an apartment or a house, because there are plenty of plant species that survive perfectly fine with filtered, indoor light. Most indoor starter plants and pots are fairly inexpensive at any local garden center. Having even a couple of houseplants in your living space can improve not only your mood and decorating scheme, but your overall health as well.