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Sep 10 2017
by Nancy Canevari

The 8 Best Plants to Grow in Your Dorm Room

By Nancy Canevari - Sep 10 2017
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You buy a plant for your dorm room, excited to decorate with it and bring nature inside. You display your plant on your window sill and shower it with love… for about three days. Fast forward a week, and between classes, work and extracurriculars, you’ve completely forgotten about your miniature garden — until you find its shriveled remains while cleaning out your room.

Sound familiar?

Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case. While some plants require a lot of care and water, others are far more low-maintenance, making them perfect for a dorm room. Here are a few of these plants, as well as some tips for caring for them.

1. Ivy

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I’ve had an ivy plant in my dorm room for the last year (her name is Rosethorn and I love her more than a lot of real people), and I’ve found that they’re remarkably easy to take care of and very difficult to kill. They need to be watered regularly (daily or every other day is best; make sure you’re keeping the soil moist, but not letting the pot sit in a puddle of water), but don’t need much additional care. Make sure to mist the leaves with water or wipe them with a damp paper towel every so often, but other than that, your ivy is all set.

2. Succulents/Cacti

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These are a pretty classic choice, but they’re classics for a reason. Succulents and cacti only need to be watered when the soil they’re potted in gets completely dry (usually once a week), and other than water, they only need direct sunlight to be able to thrive.

3. Lucky Bamboo

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Lucky bamboo grows best in low light areas, so make sure you’re putting your plants away from your windows. While the plant can be grown in water, if you buy an existing plant (rather than a seedling), it can also be grown in soil, which is much easier if you’re keeping it in a dorm. Make sure you keep it in a pot with good drainage so that the water can drain off of it. You want to water it regularly and keep the soil moist, but don’t allow it to become waterlogged.

4. African Daisies

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African daisies thrive in warm, bright climates, so make sure you’re keeping yours close to a window to allow for maximum light, and in the winter, make sure your heat is turned up. These plants also do well in dry soil, so don’t overwater them: they can go a couple of days in soil that’s dry.

5. Orchids

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Depending on what they’re planted in, orchids need varying amounts of water, but no matter where they’re planted, they don’t need a lot of water. Most orchids come planted in moss, which means that they retain moisture easily, and only need to be watered every two weeks or so. If you’re tempted to water your orchid, wait a few days: you’re more likely to kill it by overwatering it then by not giving it enough water. Orchids are flowering plants that bloom and then lose their flowers, so when they fall off, make sure you snip off the top part of the plant at the spike (clearly visible on the orchid stem). This will encourage growth after the bloom is over.

6. Snake Plants

Snake plants are among the most durable plants, making them perfect for college students’ busy schedules. They can survive in low light levels and without large amounts of water, so all you need to do to care for them is stick them somewhere in your room with indirect sunlight and water them from time to time (let the soil dry out a bit between waterings). They can also keep the air in your room clean.

7. ZZ Plants

Another practically indestructible plant, ZZ plants can look like artificial plants at times — they have a waxy, shiny texture to their leaves that can make them look fake. They do well in indirect, low lighting, so be sure to keep them in a part of your room that doesn’t get a ton of sunlight. They need very little water (this is another plant that you should only water when the soil gets dry), and if you see the leaves starting to turn yellow, it’s a sign that you’re watering them too much.

8. Ponytail Palm

Ponytail palms have a fun, unique appearance that you don't get with most houseplants, making them a great choice for dorm rooms. They also require very little water — you only need to water them every 7-10 days — but they do require lots of sunlight, so placing them on your window sill is a good way to go.

Having plants in your dorm room is guaranteed to spruce up its appearance and make your space look (and feel) more homey, and caring for those plants doesn't need to take a ton of time or money. Invest in some of these low-maintenance plants, and you're guaranteed to impress your guests with your miniature garden.

Lead Image Credit: Rick Forgo via Unsplash

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Nancy Canevari - Smith College

Nancy is a junior editor for Fresh U. She is a sophomore at Smith College and plans on double majoring in secondary education and English, with a concentration in creative writing. She's originally from New Jersey, a place she views with one part love and one part exasperated disgust. She loves dogs and young adult high fantasy novels a bit too much and spends most of her time drinking tea and yelling about politics. Follow her on Instagram @fearlesslynancelot for some solidly mediocre content.

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