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A Houseplant Fanatic’s Guide to the Best Dorm Plants!

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Conn Coll chapter.

I must admit, I cannot resist a good houseplant. Take me to a garden center, and I will not be able to hold back. I love plants. They’re so much fun to nurture and watch thrive– making the beige box that is my dorm room ten times more welcoming, and are also a great talking point (that I admittedly enjoy talking about a little too much). I do not claim to be any kind of plant expert, and this list is nowhere close to exhaustive, but I’ve only managed to kill one plant, which may or may not have been because of my particularly mischievous cat. Oh, well.  

In order to best separate these plants into categories, I am going to rank them from the ones that are easiest to care for to those that may need a bit more maintenance. Keep in mind, too, that there are so many more houseplants than those listed here– these are just the ones that I happen to have experience with! Do your research and have fun!

  1. Spider Plant: I love these guys! They’re very hard to kill, only need to be watered once or twice a week, and are pretty forgiving for those with brown thumbs. I live in a basement room and do not have a proper window, but I find my plant does fine even under indirect light from a grow light. If you want something easy to care for, but aren’t a big fan of succulents, these guys will be your best friend!
  2. Aloe: these are fun, pretty, and can be quite useful! Succulents in general are pretty hard to kill, but just keep an eye on the water level! I water mine about once a week. In addition, they’re pretty easy to propagate, which can make them a fun plant to share with friends! I’m putting them above other succulents on this list because of the usefulness of their leaves, but they’re also just a great choice for first time plant owners! One small note, though—be careful with them if you have animals nearby! This is the only plant on the list that is not pet safe—my cat doesn’t even try to reach mine, but I still keep it away from him during the summers when I’m home.  
  3. Jelly Bean Plant: Aside from their fun name, these are really nice succulents that are low maintenance, but still add a touch of greenery to any room! Native to Mexico, they are used to hot and dry conditions and do not need to be watered often. Additionally, they do not grow very large and are easy to transport. They do need bright light, but otherwise are a great choice even for those with brown thumbs!
  4. Gold Lace Cactus: these are super easy to care for, and their golden hue is a nice splash of color in any room! They are easy to grow in pots and require very little maintenance—water them when the soil dries out, give them enough light, and you’re good to go! They are also easy to grow in small pots. 
  5. Maidenhair Fern: these are such a lovely addition to (almost) any dorm room! They don’t do great in direct sunlight, require frequent watering and humidity (I mist the leaves of mine), and do require a bit more maintenance than some other plants on this list, but they are beautiful and thrive with the right care! The unique shape of their leaves make them a nice variation from your typical fern. I wouldn’t recommend this as a first houseplant, but if you find yourself able to care for them and able to give them the maintenance they need, these guys are a great choice!
  6. African Violet: I’m putting this close to the bottom because, while they are quite difficult to kill, African Violets tend to be very finicky about their conditions if they are to grow the beautiful blooms they are famous for. It took me a while to figure out what my plant liked, but I have found indirect light, semi-regular fertilization (I use one specifically meant for blooming plants), and watering from the bottom to work well! Additionally, avoid getting water on the leaves. They do not like that! If you have the time to give a plant a little more attention, these are a great option that will add beautiful color to your space! 
  7. Money Tree: While I think every college student would love it if these did, in fact, grow money, the beauty and value they can add to a room is priceless! These are a little on the pricey side (fittingly), but are beautiful and fairly easy to care for. I put these on the low end of the list because, lovely as they are, I have seen people do these wrong. I actually got mine from someone trying to get rid of theirs at the end of the year, and I really do not recommend them if you are not sure you can transport or find care for them while not at school. With proper care, they can live upwards of 15 years, and are not a plant to buy for a quick decoration. With proper watering, fertilization, humidity (being a tropical tree, they love that), and light, they will thrive, though. Watching mine grow from an unhappy, less-than-healthy small tree to a thriving plant that grows bigger all the time has been so rewarding!
Caroline Snyder is a rising junior at Connecticut College who is double majoring in English and Environmental Studies! She is the president of Conn's Her Campus chapter, co-captain of the college's Equestrian Team, aids in education work in the Office of Sexual Violence Prevention, and works in the college's archives, among other things. She loves writing, reading, her cat, dinosaurs, working out, and sustainability.