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Plant Loans

Welcome Plant Borrower!

According to the biophilia hypothesis, humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. This extends to houseplants. The presence of plants has been shown to improve student and employee health by minimizing psychological stress, improving mood, and increasing mental efficiency (Hassan, 2018). Plants can also cultivate daily experiences of awe, leading to greater happiness (Allen, 2018).

Over the last several years, High Library has been incorporating plants into the design of its renovated spaces. These plants continuously draw positive feedback and attention from the campus community.

Combining the positive effects of plants and the library’s strategic programming goals of whimsy and approachability, High Library is proud to introduce our plant loan program.

Plant Care 101

This quick guide to plant care should help you keep your plant loan alive.

You already know the two most essential rules for plant ownership: Plants need water and sunlight.

Most plants are happy in, or near, a window. And they are typically happy with being watered once a week.

The secret to a green thumb is paying attention to the plant. Droopy leaves, changes in color, or  abnormal growth patterns are all indications that a change is needed.

Keep in mind, plants don’t typically die in a week. There’s plenty of wiggle room for mistakes.

Check the tag hanging on the pot for recommendations specific to the plant. You may need to experiment to find the perfect conditions.

How Much Sun?

This varies by plant, but most plants do best in sunlight. LED lighting is okay, but not ideal. Some plants prefer to be near a window, but not directly in the path of the sun. Other plants want to be in the sun all day long.

Does the plant look like it is stretching towards the light? Either try rotating the pot or moving it into more direct sunlight.

Leaves that are growing in paler than the rest are also a typical sign that a plant needs more light.

A plant that is wilting, or has leaves turning brown, red, or yellow, might want less light.


How Much Water?

Most plants prefer the surface of their soil to be dry before watering. This also helps prevent mold and bugs from taking up residence in the soil. If the soil is damp to the touch, it’s too soon to water.

Soil shouldn’t be saturated. Water just enough to dampen the soil thoroughly. Water should not be visible on the surface after watering. Empty any additional water from the dish.

Soil also shouldn’t be bone dry. If you’ve forgotten to water and the plant looks droopy or a little dead, try watering moderately and see if it perks up.

A plant that is overwatered might look just as wilted as a plant that is underwatered. The soil is your key to knowing if it needs more or less water.

If it’s too wet, skip watering until it’s ready for more.


Are the Plants Animal Safe?

No. Most of our plants are not safe for animals to consume. Please be careful if you have any pets.

Also note, aside from herbs, they’re not people-safe either. Please don’t eat the plants.

If the Plant is Struggling

Plants take a lot of trial and error.

If the plant seems to be struggling, try something new. Water more or water less. Move it around in the window or away from the window.

It’s not uncommon for lower leaves to wither and drop, especially in the winter. Loosing a leaf or two isn’t a sign of immanent death.

Thirsty plants can wilt dramatically, but they usually perk right back up after watering.

If you have questions, or are unsure, you can always contact the library for assistance.

Or, bring the plant back into the library. You can return the plant early if you aren’t sure you can revive it on your own.

Sometimes plants die and that’s okay. If this happens, bring your pot back to the library and try again next semester.


Extra Care Plants

Some of our plants need a little extra love, either to get started from a cutting or to recover from a challenging semester.

These plants will be flagged as “extra care.”

Please only take an extra care plant if you are confident you might be able to nurse it to full health. Again, there are no penalties if a plant doesn’t survive in your care.

eBooks on Plant Care and Growth

eBooks on Houseplant History and Decorating

Librarian Team for Plant Care

These librarians are available to help with plant care questions:

Susan Krall

Sarah Penniman

Jennifer Strain

Stop by or send your question to


Allen, S. (2018, September 26). Eight reasons why awe makes your life better. Greater Good Magazine.

Biophilia hypothesis. (2023, June 13). Brittanica.

Hassan, A., Qibing, C., Tao, J., Bing-Yang, L., Nian, L., Li, S., Tng, L.Y., Li, J.Z., Ziyue, S.G., & Tahir, M.S. (2018). Effects of plant activity on mental stress in young adults. HortScience, 53(1), 104-109.

15290004. (2020). Sun rays design [Image]. Pixabay.

tlemskaya_art. (2020). Plants indoor plants nature [Image]. Pixabay.

ZorkaLesovna. (2020). Plants house green [Image]. Pixabay.