A college student’s guide to keeping plants in a dorm room

Learn about what plants are best suited for your dorm room and tips on how to care for them

Plants are a great way to brighten up any living space, especially dorm rooms. Although we can’t have a full jungle in our dorms, a few plants around the room can still give that same feeling. 

The best plants to keep in a dorm room are low maintenance plants, meaning they need little to no care to stay alive. These plants only need to be watered every few weeks and can be placed pretty much anywhere in the room for sunlight.

Getting started: what tools to buy

Before purchasing your first plant for your dorm, you should make sure you have the right tools. Terracotta pots are the best pots for any kind of plant and are the most affordable. You’ll only need to buy a new pot if the roots are coming out of the holes on the bottom of the plant's original pot, indicating it needs to be put in a bigger pot. If you purchase a plant that looks like this or see this happening to a plant in the future, you’ll have to repot it, so make sure you have potting soil to do so. Some more difficult plants need special kinds of soil, but for these low maintenance plants, indoor potting soil works best. 

The spring and summer months are considered the “growing season” for most plants, and this is when it is best to fertilize your plant. Low maintenance plants can be fertilized with indoor plant food, but some plants, similar to soil, need specific fertilizer. Once you have the correct tools for your plants, you’re ready to learn how to care for them.

Low-maintenance plant ideas

Contrary to popular belief, cacti and succulents are harder to take care of than most people think. They are very sensitive to overwatering and dim lighting, so if you have a bright dorm room and don’t want to pay much attention to your plants, then these are the best plants for you. Cacti and succulents like direct sunlight, meaning they should be placed on a windowsill or very close to one. They only need to be watered every two to four weeks, or when the soil is completely dry all the way through. 

Philodendron and pothos are similar plants and require similar care. These plants can be placed anywhere in your dorm room, but prefer to be near a window but not on a window sill. This is called “indirect sunlight,” as the plants will receive enough sunlight but do not need it directly on them to survive. Philodendrons and pothos should be watered every one to two weeks, or whenever the top two inches of soil are dry. 

ZZ plants, Chinese evergreens and snake plants are by far the easiest plants to take care of. These plants can be placed anywhere in your dorm room and will adapt to whatever type of light your room receives. These plants should be watered every two to four weeks, or when the top two inches of the soil are dry. These plants thrive off little to no attention, so don’t be discouraged if you forget to water them.

Where to buy plants & plant tools

These plants can be found at hardware stores or local nurseries. REWILD is a great nursery with locations in Shaw and Georgetown. They have a wide variety of plants that are affordable for college students. 

Little Leaf is also located in Shaw. They are also known for their wide variety of plants, especially their cacti and succulent varieties. 

Ginkgo Gardens is another plant nursery located near Navy Yard. They are known for their variety of indoor and outdoor plants as well as their plant tools.

No matter your confidence in plant care, these low maintenance plants are sure to keep your hopes up. You may even find yourself buying more difficult plants as your skills continue to grow.


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