Flower Power

Need to give your room that wow factor? LEAF ARBUTHNOT suggests the best in potted plants

cacti cactus cheerios decoration grinch leaf Leaf Arbuthnot lifestyle mint olive trees olives orchids oxygen plants room

Michaelmas can be brutal. The nights draw in, the essays encroach, shops start playing carols far too late (or far too early, depending on your levels of Grinch). One sure-fire way to improve your term is to lure a plant into your college lair. This will do several important things:

1) oxygenate your brain,

2) mask the unsavoury smell of soggy Cheerios hidden under your bed,

3) prove your eco-chic credentials, whilst imbuing your room with unstoppable Zen.

Nonetheless, not every plant will get you a First, or indeed laid. Here’s a guide to the pros and cons of the best contenders:

1. The Waxen Basil Plant

You could even pesto that shit.

You could even pesto that shit.


Edible and cheap, this is also a fairly low-maintenance plant. All you need to do is water it every few days, leave it in a sunny spot and ensure it doesn’t sit near a kettle. Try tearing up one or two leaves and having them on toast with honey and salt – surprisingly moreish.


You’re not Italian.

2. The Shit Cactus

© Creative Commons, Tamer Hamam


Cacti are amongst the hardiest organisms on the planet. Whichever one you go for, it should be able to withstand erratic watering and dungeon light.


Definitely won’t make you any friends. People get cacti because they’ve killed off every other plant, baby and pet entrusted to them – buying one screams ‘I also have a pet pencil sharpener’.

3. The Frigid Orchid


Beautiful testes


Derived from the Greek word for testicles, orchids also last longer than most flowers and they’re gloriously easy to take care of, once you know how: pour one mugful of water into the pot each a week, leave for two hours, then drain off.


The flowers look malicious and their petals can get a little dusty. The last thing you’ll want to be doing in Week Five is removing dead skin particles from your orchid with an earbud.

4. The Delightful Mint Plant

© Creative Commons, Fernando Stankuns


The health benefits of mint were trumpeted by the Romans and they remain pretty indisputable. Fresh mint tea (ideally from a peppermint, rather than a spearmint, plant) is much nicer than teabag mint tea – and in dire straits, mint leaves can also stand in as reasonable substitutes for toothpaste and soap.


Lacking in wow factor. Quite temperamental when grown from shallow pots. While the leaves smell finger-lickin-good, the plants themselves can look rather twiggy and forlorn.

5. The Thrilling Olive Tree

© Creative Commons, Darkroom Daze

Thrilling (CC, Darkroom Daze)


Sophisticated. Free olives.


Expensive, difficult to find and fiddly to keep alive. Also likely to remain barren in the Cambridge / Siberian climate.



For more on flowers and stuff, visit londonette.com.