The story behind the apartment of many plants

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Succulents in painted pots on Gorder's windowsill. Photo credit: Jessica Brown

Sierra Gorder, a senior studying horticulture, lives in what some neighbors call “the apartment with all the plants.” Gorder collects and takes care of over 140 plants in her apartment.

However, Gorder’s decision to pursue horticulture wasn’t her first choice.

“It was a bit of a hard process,” Gorder said. “This is the third time I’ve changed my major. When I was changing my major around, I really wanted something that I was going to be happy with and enjoy doing for the rest of my life, so I was trying to find things in my life that I already enjoyed doing.”

Gorder explained that she originally chose animation as her major, then switched to business and digital marketing. After one semester, she knew she needed to make another change.

“At the time, I was working in the Garden Center at my local Walmart, and I loved just being outside with the plants and spending time with them,” Gorder said. “I would always gravitate to that area, and I would spend all my shift there if I could. So I was like, ‘maybe I should do something with plants.'”

As a result, Gorder chose to study horticulture, with an emphasis in business.

“If everything goes to plan, I would like to own and operate my own greenhouse selling houseplants,” Gorder explained. “That would be the dream.”

Gorder’s love of plants has led her to build a collection of unique plants in her apartment, including various succulents, houseplants and even a few tropical plants, including a bird of paradise.

In order to keep track of all her plants, Gorder utilizes a journal to track watering schedules, repotting and other care for each plant. She also names her plants, especially multiples of a certain type, to help her discern which plants may need more care.

“I started with five when I first got plants,” Gorder said. “Back in March of 2020, I was like, ‘I want to get some plants before coronavirus hits so if I have to stay inside, I can have a piece of nature here with me.'”

After exploring several majors, Gorder finally found what makes her happy.

“They’re really rewarding and relaxing,” Gorder explained. “It’s always super nice to be able to see that your effort is paying off when you can see new leaves forming or new growth on the plant. It helps me take a break and calm down. It’s a nice pull out from the busyness of the world.”

Since beginning her journey with plants, Gorder’s apartment has been nicknamed by some as the ‘apartment with all the plants.’ The plants give the apartment an extra natural and homey feel for Gorder and her roommates, who pitch in to help and make jokes about Gorder “feeding the plants again.”