Best plants for dorm or apartment living
Brighten up your life with these hearty greens
Studies have shown that houseplants not only brighten up livings spaces, they’re good for your physical and mental health, too. NASA found that house plants remove toxins from the air, reducing the spread of sickness that comes with communal living spaces. Additionally, the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that indoor plants reduce stress and make one feel more comfortable and relaxed.
College students don’t always have access to all of the things plants need: adequate sunlight, species-specific plant fo
od or the space to grow out a large root system. Fortunately, there are some plants that do well in the college environment. The following plants are low-light, hearty and low-maintenance (just in case you forget a watering or two), and can be easily found in a grocery store, gardening center or online.
Succulents are great beginner plants because of how easy it is to tell when they need water. When the leaves don’t feel plump or begin to wrinkle after a few days, you know it’s time to water them. They store water in their leaves and do well in low-light conditions, meaning you can put them on your desk rather than near a window. All they need is some arid soil and a little water every few days or when the leaves don’t feel plump or begin to wrinkle. Although cacti are popular succulents, there are many other types that come in various bright and beautiful colors, so you’re not limited to just green.
Lucky bamboo is actually a misnomer: it’s not a bamboo but a dracaena. Dracaena is a diverse genus known for its short ringed stalks and narrow sword-shaped leaves. Regardless, this plant thrives in indirect light, which is when light shines through the window but does not shine directly on the plant, making it perfect for spaces that don’t get a lot of sunlight throughout the day. This plant is relatively maintenance-free especially when grown in water rather than soil, and only needs its water changed every few weeks. Always make sure the roots are covered with water and you’re good to go.
Spider plants thrive in rooms that are between 55 to 80 degrees, which is perfect for a college dorm or apartment when the heating might turn off late in the spring. These plants produce long green leaves in a rosette pattern and thrive in moderate indirect sunlight. Although this plant needs to have its soil watered regularly to prevent the tips of its leaves from burning, they are still very low-maintenance. Having a small watering can handy can help you cut back on frequent trips to the sink for water. This plant will also produce “pups,” or small offshoots, after it reaches maturity. These can be transplanted to start new spider plants and would make a great gift for a friend.
The Golden Pothos is great for someone who wants a larger plant in their space, or who has an empty corner to fill rather than a windowsill. Although these plants can grow up to 30 feet in length indoors, regular pruning will make them more compact and manageable. Also called Devil’s Ivy, this plant prefers bright, indirect sunlight. Watering this plant is easy; it only needs water when the leaves start to droop. If watered too often, the roots will rot, so water them well but infrequently so that the roots can dry out between waterings.
Invite spring into your living space with these easy-to-care-for plants. They’ll reduce stress, freshen up the air and make your home feel more inviting. Near AU, one can find many of these plants at Whole Foods and Giant, as well as online. Better yet, reach out to friends and ask if you can get a cutting of their plants to propagate.