Low Maintenance Plants for Dorms That Are Virtually Unkillable
Indoor plants are a great way to add a touch of nature and color to college dorm rooms which can feel sterile and drab. Plants help create a more inviting, comfortable, and healthy living space, and did you know some of them can even help reduce stress?
However, certain factors must be considered when choosing a suitable plant for a dorm environment. Such as: space constraints, lighting, and maintenance requirements. For example, many dorm rooms don’t have access to much direct sunlight, so it’s important to choose dorm plants that can tolerate lower light conditions.
Some plants require more water, while others are remarkably tolerant of forgetful plant parents. Dorm rooms can become hot and humid at times, so you have to factor in humidity requirements too. In addition, most college students are on a limited budget, so expensive exotic plants aren’t an option.
In this article, I’ll go over some of the best dorm room plants for decorating with and caring for while living as a college student in campus housing. Regardless of your ability to keep green things alive, these easy to grow plants make the perfect choice. They don’t ask for much, but the results you get are tremendously rewarding!
Best Dorm Room Plants
1. Chinese Evergreen
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance and easy-to-care-for plant to add to your dorm room, the Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema) is an excellent option! Its lush, green foliage provides a calming atmosphere and adds a touch of nature to that will liven up any space.
These indoor plants come in a variety of shapes and colors, from variegated green and silver to shades of pink and red. The variety pictured above is Chinese Evergreen Cutlass.
Chinese evergreens thrive in low to medium lighting conditions, which makes them perfect dorm room plants for students who have minimal natural light available. Keep in mind that the darker green varieties are better suited for near-shade than Chinese evergreen plants with lighter leaves. It also doesn’t need frequent watering, so you can go on winter or spring break vacation without worrying about its survival.
Furthermore, the Chinese evergreen is known for its air purifying properties. College students who want to add fresh color and personality to their room can’t go wrong with this dorm plant!
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2. Snake Plant
The snake plant, or Sansevieria is a popular indoor houseplant and easily one of the best dorm room plants. Not only is it eye-catching, but it’s also hardy and doesn’t ask for much. College kids who don’t have much time to devote to caring for their plants will love how easy it is to keep these alive.
Known for their unique green and yellow striped appearance, snake plants come in a variety of sizes. They can be grown in small pots, which is an ideal feature for cramped dorm rooms. According to a NASA study, snake plants are one of the top air-purifying plants, helping to remove toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air.
Which means you can breathe easier in your dorm room. This is beneficial for all college students, but this makes them an especially good dorm plant choice for students who suffers from allergies or asthma.
Snake plants are very low maintenance; they can tolerate low light and infrequent watering. In fact, these indoor plants love being ignored – the more you ignore them, the better they grow! So go easy on the watering because snake plants can be prone to root rot if kept in soil that’s too moist. Make sure the soil is well-draining and that you allow it to dry out thoroughly between waterings.
So if you’re looking for dorm plants that won’t take up too much of your time and energy, then the snake plant is definitely worth considering!
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3. Spider Plant
If you want a nearly indestructible dorm plant, look no further than the spider plant! Spider plants are extremely tolerant, which is why they’re one of the most common and easy-to-grow houseplants. Native to South Africa but now prevalent worldwide, they have long slender leaves up to 3 feet long and 1 inch wide, which are usually green or yellow and white striped, and the plant also produces small white flowers on the stems.
While they prefer bright indirect sunlight, they can also get by on less than ideal lighting situations. These houseplants don’t require frequent watering and should only be watered when the top inch of soil is dry (overwatering can lead to root rot like with the snake plant, and can kill them).
Although adaptable and hardy, spider plants do best when potted in well-draining soil. They also appreciate occasional misting to provide humidity and remove dust from their leaves.
Another reason spider plants are one of the best dorm plants is they’re so easy to clip and propagate. Which means they’re a cost-effective way to fill your dorm room with plants. They produce small plant babies that hang down on trailing stems, reminiscent of spiders (hence the name).
Removing these plantlets and starting new spider plants (which you can share with friends) is super straightforward: no green thumb needed. Read more about how to propagate spider plants here.
Between their stylish appearance and air-purifying qualities, spider plants are a beautiful and beneficial addition to any room that again, are easy even for a total beginner to care for!
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4. ZZ Plant
College dorm rooms can be challenging landscapes to keep plants alive in, not to mention the hustle and bustle of student life takes up most of your time. But for those who want to join in on the houseplant trend, ZZ plants are a highly recommended choice. It’s simple to please and basically thrives on neglect – making it perfect for people who haven’t yet been able to keep a single green thing alive.
The ZZ Plant (zamioculcas zamiifolia), also known as the Zanzibar gem, is a hardy plant and well versed in adapting to minimal lighting settings. This indoor plant is incredibly resilient due to its efficiency at retaining water; they prefer arid conditions and good drainage.
Overwatering is about the only way you can kill this houseplant. When in doubt, wait it out!
Other than that, ZZs are foolproof plants for dorms. With minimal effort and attention, you can enjoy a beautiful green addition to your living space without having to worry about keeping up with its needs.
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Named after the Greek god of wine and celebrations, Pothos (Epipremnum aureum), and also known as Devil’s Ivy, is a trailing plant that is extremely forgiving and undemanding about its growing conditions. These plants are native to the Solomon Islands and are another top air purifying plants for dorm rooms. They’re also known for absorbing humidity in the air, which can help to reduce respiratory issues such as coughing and sore throats.
Pothos plants come in a variety of colors and can be grown in small pots or hung from the ceiling. As a result, these indoor plants are a great option for rooms with limited floor space — often the case in a dorm!
One of the reasons that pothos plants are so well-liked is that they are incredibly easy to care for. They can survive in low-light areas and don’t need to be watered often, preferring to be kept slightly moist but not waterlogged (you should let the soil dry out between waterings).
Another thing that makes them easy to maintain is that their leaves will turn yellow if they are over-watered or under-watered, an easy indicator of the plant’s health. They’re also easy to propagate—you simply cut a stem and place it in water until roots form, then plant it in soil. By and large, Pothos is one of the best plants for dorms due to its ability to thrive in even the poorest conditions.
6. Cast Iron Plant
Another top pick for college student housing situations which have a deficit of sunlight is the cast iron plant (Aspidistra).
Believe it or not, the cast iron plant belongs to the asparagus family and was a much favored houseplant during the Victorian era. So if you need dorm room plants that fit with a dark academia aesthetic, a cast iron plant will nail the vibe.
The only thing to note about caring for this plant is that its leaves are easily damaged by the sun’s rays. Keep them out of direct sunlight, and you should have no trouble keeping a cast iron plant happy in your dorm.
When it comes to watering your cast-iron plant, you don’t need to be super precise. However, too much water can cause root rot and kill them. Like most indoor plants, it’s better for them to be on the drier side and let the soil dry out between waterings.
Whether you’re a first timer gardener or just have little time to spare, these low maintenance indoor plants are reliable and rewarding. Tough and remarkably tolerant of even the lowest natural lighting conditions, it takes a great deal of effort to kill off these leafy beauties!
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7. Peace Lily
Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) are one of the best plants to have in your dorm room due to their non-fussy nature. They don’t need a lot of sunlight, water, or fertilizer to thrive, making them the perfect houseplant for any student who doesn’t have a green thumb. With the right environment (which is very flexible) and some basic care tips, you can easily keep your peace lily in perfect condition.
Calming and dignified, peace lilies produce beautiful white flowers once or twice a year that can add a touch of elegance to your dorm room décor. Like pothos, they can thrive in shade or partial shade and are good for purifying the air. However, ideally, you would keep this plant near an east-facing or north-facing window, but not in direct sunlight.
These indoor plants are big fans of humidity, so you should consider getting a humidifier if you’re in a particularly dry dorm room. Alternatively, you can also simply place a tray of water near your plant. Be aware that peace lilies are sensitive to chlorine in tap water, so if possible, you should use distilled water, filtered water, or simply leave a cup of water on the counter overnight to give the chlorine time to evaporate.
Furthermore, to keep a peace lily looking its best, keep the soil moist but not soaking. Their leaves will droop and brown at the tips if the soil is dry for too long, so it’s not too difficult to tell if you’re underwatering it.
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Philodendrons are some of the easiest to care for plants for dorms. They grow fast, and the wide variety of growth patterns are quite appealing (philodendron Birkin is pictured above). What’s more, philodendron plants are very effective at removing harmful chemicals in the air.
There are two main types of philodendron: vining and non-climbing. Non-climbing philodendron grows upward while vining varieties trail downward. Vining philodendrons are a fun plant to let cascade down from a hanging planter or to let climb a stake or other support.
Philodendron is very forgiving about inconsistent watering but doesn’t appreciate overwatering or direct sunlight. This hearty plant will make do in a range of lighting situations, but it will grow more swiftly (and maintain peak health) if exposed to bright indirect light. Regular misting will also keep this indoor plant at its happiest. Read more tips for optimal care here.
Philodendrons are awesome low-maintenance dorm room plants; they’re near impossible to kill as long as they get sufficient sunlight. However, depending on the specific type and your room size, their leaves may be a little big for a dorm room. For sun-deprived situations, we suggest opting for a darker green variety such as Heartleaf Philodendron or Florida Green Philodendron.
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9. Dracaena Marginata
If you’ve been guilty of killing houseplants by forgetting to water them, you’ll love this one! Dracaena marginata, aka the Madagascar Dragon Tree or Corn Plant, is a common houseplant that makes for some of the best dorm room plants because they can withstand a lot of neglect.
Highly drought tolerant, dracaena only asks that you don’t water it too much. Too much water and you’ll see the leaves turn yellow. Whereas the leaf tips dry up and turn brown from underwatering. But you have to try pretty hard to underwater these indoor plants. Distilled water is best for these plants as they are sensitive to fluoride in tap water.
As tropical plants, they’re known for being lush and attractive. Dracaena come in a variety of shapes and sizes but typically have striking long spiky-looking leaves. Dracaena marginata in particular, are the hardiest and least demanding variety. All in all, these are an excellent hard-to-kill dorm room plant that will spruce up even the most dreary of rooms.
10. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera plants are an increasingly popular choice for dorm room decor, due to their forgiving nature and many benefits. Not only are they undemanding, but they also help purify the air in rooms, add vibrant decoration, and act as natural humidifiers.
Aloe vera is a type of succulent plant best known for its healing properties. Make sure you choose the right pot because aloe vera plants prefer to grow in pots that are slightly bigger than their root ball. As succulents, they prefer dryer conditions, so good drainage is ideal. Aloe vera plants don’t need frequent watering, you only water them when the soil is completely dry (usually once a week in summer and once every two weeks in winter).
Aloe Vera plants can help freshen up a dorm room and make it feel more like home. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors that can fit any aesthetic preference. With proper care and minimal attention (don’t kill it with kindness!), these plants can last for years, making them one of the best dorm room plants to have! Ensure it has enough light, and you won’t have any trouble keeping this plant alive.
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11. Rubber Tree Plant
Rubber trees are quickly becoming beloved houseplants everywhere due to their affinity for shady environments, low care needs, and simple propagation! It’s not hard to understand the growing popularity of these plants for dorms.
Rubber tree plants or Ficus Elastica come in a variety of sizes and can be grown in small pots. One thing to note is that they can be susceptible to pests, so when choosing a plant, look for one that has healthy, shiny leaves and doesn’t show any signs of damage. Once you’ve found the perfect rubber plant, it’s important to give it the right conditions to thrive.
While rubber tree plants prefer bright, indirect sunlight, they’re unusually tolerant of less than ideal lighting. They’re very low maintenance, not requiring much pruning or repotting – all great reasons why one is the best plant for a college dorm! Coming in a range of colors, it’s easy to find a rubber tree that will match your style.
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12. Christmas Cactus
If you’re wondering what are the best flowers for dorms, a Christmas cactus is an excellent choice for more than a few reasons. Not only are they quite forgiving and easy to grow, but they also add life and a bit of festive cheer to your space. In addition, these cacti don’t require as much maintenance as other houseplants, so you can spend more time studying or exploring your new college town.
Belonging to the succulent family, these indoor plants are a classic plant for dorm rooms as they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are often low priced. Indirect bright light is ideal for a Christmas cactus (Zygocactus), but they are also content in low light situations, making it a versatile and difficult-to-kill indoor plant for dorm rooms.
Succulents need well-draining soil to thrive. You can buy soil specifically designed for succulents, or you can make your own by mixing potting soil with sand or perlite. Succulents grow slowly, but they will eventually outgrow their pots. Repot them in a larger container with fresh soil when you notice their roots growing out of the drainage holes.
Differing from most succulents and cacti, Christmas cactus actually prefer more moisture and appreciate humidity. If you want to encourage blooming, they do require a bit more of your attention however, your effort will pay off in the most rewarding way. Read more about ideal blooming conditions here.
With their cheerful blooms and vibrant colors, Christmas cactus make the perfect dorm room plant choice!
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How to hang plants in a dorm room?
There are a few ways you can hang plants in a dorm room without needing to drill into the ceiling.
Your damage-free options for hanging dorm plants include:
- suction cup plant hangers – if you have a suitable window available to you
- over the door hooks
- or even a coat rack!
Are plants allowed in dorms?
Yes, indeed, plants are allowed in dorms! So long as they’re not any illegal plants. 😉
Air purifying plants for dorm rooms?
Many of the plants we covered in this post are wonderful air purifying plants for dorm rooms. But if we had to pick the top 3 air purifying plants for dorm rooms, it would be the snake plant, spider plant, and dracaena marginata.
Final thoughts on best dorm plants
So that wraps up this post on the best dorm room plants! To summarize, these hardy indoor plants are a terrific way to add some greenery and (literally) life to your dorm room.
All the options listed above are great plants for dorm rooms as they require minimal intervention on your part, can tolerate lower light conditions, have air-purifying qualities, and are highly forgiving. By adding some of these plants to your dorm room, you can create a more relaxing and stylish atmosphere.
Which plant dorm room ideas do you like best? Are there other plants you would suggest for students living in college dorms? Share your thoughts with us by dropping a comment down below!
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