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Succulents: The College Student’s Favorite Pet

Walk into almost any college, and you’ll probably see some kind of cactus or succulent sitting on the windowsill. But despite loving succulents of all shapes and sizes, a lot of college kids may not know the best and cheapest places to buy them, the right pots to use, and exactly how to take care of them. But fear not! I’ve made an easy how-to guide for buying, potting, watering, and pruning your plants.


Buying your succulents may seem like the easy part, that isn’t always true. Many times, there won’t be anywhere around that would sell succulents. I personally bought my three plants at Home Depot during the summer, but many colleges also have ‘plant a succulent events’. Amazon has quite a few that you can simple buy online, or you can even ask a friend with a succulent you like to give you a clipping and grow your own using these instructions!



Succulents are desert plants, so they can be pretty picky about the type of soil and pot they need. They almost all need a specific type of succulent and cactus potting soil, which is a sandier blend to mimic the soil they would naturally live in in the desert. Many disagree on the proper potting environment of a succulent – some say a glass container with stones for drainage is fine, while others insist you can only use a pumice or terracotta pot with drainage holes. I personally have kept mine in deep white ceramic containers for years, and they seem to be plenty happy with the arrangement. You can buy some good pots for succulents on Amazon, such as this one and this one, and most thrift stores have containers that are decent for succulents, too!


Succulents are generally full sun plants, preferring well-lit windowsills to a desk or a mantle. You may even see them starting to lean towards the sun, which usually means that I turn them in order for all sides of the plant to get even amounts of sunlight. People can also disagree on how to water your succulent. Some say a spritz from a spray bottle every few days is okay, while others insist you have to water them fully, but only ever week or two. I currently water mine pretty heavily every one to three weeks, and they look fine overall.



Eventually, it’s going to be necessary to groom and prune your succulent in order to keep dead petals from rotting and to keep the plant healthy. The dried out or dead leaves can often be easily pulled off using a pair of tweezers or even just your fingers. I check every few weeks for any dead growth, but your succulents may be different. Pruning, on the other hand, is a bit more involved, and can be used to maintain the shape of your succulent and remove growths that may be in contact with the soil and in risk of rotting. This tutorial is pretty informative on how to maintain a succulent arrangement, while this one is better for an individually potted plant like the ones I keep.


And that’s it! Succulents make a wonderful and colorful addition to any windowsill, whether it be in a dorm room, apartment, or even a house. They are great for bringing positive and loving energy into a space, so consider having one of your own!


Sarah is a freshman studying Theatrical Design and Production at Carnegie Mellon University. One day she hopes to design costumes for Star Wars and Marvel films or television programs, but for now you can find her in her free time hanging out in her dorm drawing or watching TV, trying out a new mug cake recipe, or reading her latest National Geographic issue. You can follow her on Instagram at @theocqueen to see all her latest doodles and sketches.
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