Norton’s Florist displays plant baskets, which are a blend of different floral arrangements.
Photo by Kristinia Balciunaite/Life and Style Editor

By Kristinia Balciunaite, Life and Style Editor

Living in a tiny dorm can be dull and depressing. There are many elements that could be used to lighten up a sad room, but one, in particular, is often overlooked. Plants and flowers alike are both cheap and effective room enhancers.

Studies at Rutgers University have found that the presence of plants and flowers significantly increase our mental and emotional well-being. According to the study, they “create instant delight and enhance our life satisfaction.”

Pam Boylen, one of the owners of Birmingham’s own Martin Flowers, said that, from her experience, plants do boost the energy and mood of people. According to Boylen, flowers and plants have a significantly positive effect, especially someone who is ill.

“Plants actually add oxygen to the atmosphere, especially in a closed room,” Boylen said. “They are great for small spaces.”

Flowers, of course, usually last for up to two weeks, depending on how well they are maintained. Although they certainly lighten up a room, from a student’s perspective, a house plant would be a better investment.

“The advantage of a plant is that it allows the smile to last day after day,” said Cameron Peppas, owner of Norton’s Florist.

For a beginner, florists recommend plants such as peace lilies, philodendrons and pothos plant (also known as “devil’s ivy”). These are the easiest plants to take care of, as they only require water when the superficial dirt is dry. As long as they are kept in the sunlight, they can last for years. They come in a price range from $20 to $60 depending on their size.

Other good options could be plant baskets. They require the same attention as more low-maintenance plants, like peace lilies, and add that extra touch of warmth and coziness to the scenery. If you are set on a higher-end flower, an orchid is a great investment. They don’t require much water, they should be kept in environments that are well lit, warm and non-drafty. Although they only bloom annually, they are certainly worth the patience.

“Anything alive adds a little cheer to the room,” said Addrienne Gunselman, an employee at Norton’s Florist.

If you are looking to simply try out something different for your room, without necessarily committing to a plant, a bouquet or even a single flower, could change the atmosphere and feeling of an inside space. Wildflowers may be the most romantic and seasonal, but there is always a selection of flowers at the local florist.

Norton’s Florist recently completed a campaign entitled #PetalItForward as part of an initiative of the Society of American Florists. Two bouquets were handed out to bypassers on the street. One of the bouquets was meant for the initial receiver and the other was meant to be re-gifted to a stranger. This campaign was organized as an act of fun and kindness, with the subtext that flowers, in fact, do lift the spirit of the receivers.

So before springing for some overpriced decorative pillows and “home sweet home” posters, consider adding a little life to the room. Literally.

Kristinia Balciunaite can be reached at kribal@uab.com or on Twitter @KscopeKristina.

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