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College Dorm Plants for the Forgetful Gardner: Adopt Your Own Companion Plant That is as Equally Independent as You

Dorm rooms are boring, why not adopt a plant? It’s easier than you think!

Credit: AlexanderDubrovsky/Shutterstock

Companion plants are a perfect example of symbiotic relationships in nature. They support, protect, and grow together in perfect harmony, much like close friendships. Humans and plants aren’t that different when you think about it; they’re independent but sometimes need a buddy to lean on. College is stressful, so why not consider adopting a dorm room plant buddy to bring some fresh air and aesthetic vibes into your space but not take up all your attention?

I was fortunate to speak with Judi, a nursery lady at Southern Horticulture in St. Augustine, FL. She was kind enough to share her expertise in Landscape Horticulture and Greenhouse Growing and recommend the most low-maintenance, quirky, popular houseplants available.

There are various options to choose from when it comes to dorm room plant shopping, but no matter what, you won’t lose any sleep over keeping them alive.

They require minimal sunlight and infrequent watering and can live long enough to travel with you from your college dorm to your first apartment.

“Most of the things that you have in dorm rooms tolerate very low light and they’re usually going to want to be allowed to dry out in between waterings.”

Judi

Houseplants are known to be easygoing, so whether you’re an experienced plant mom or a newbie wanting to add some good vibes to your room, a good ol’ reliable houseplant is always the correct answer.

Philodendrons: Your new green BFF

Philodendron is a genus of tropical flowering plants originally from South America but known worldwide as the perfect house plant and natural air purifier.

These plants are like the chilled-out surfer of the plant world – effortlessly trendy and endlessly charming. Their luscious, funky-shaped green leaves are what make them such tropical beauties.

Plus, they’re not any high-maintenance diva; you only need to water them roughly every two weeks so that they won’t steal all your attention. But there are so many and some are even poisonous, so which type of Philodendron is best?

Philodendron xanadu

Don’t be fooled; this cute plant can grow up to six feet tall, with elegant leaves filling that dull space next to your TV. While a full-grown xanadu looks high maintenance, the stunning plant couldn’t be more misleading.

The name “xanadu” sounds like a mystical place full of wonder and adventure, making this plant even more fun and exciting to have around. So, if you’re looking for a plant that’s both classy and chill, Philodendron xanadu is definitely worth checking out!

A Xanadu plant sprawled out, catching sun rays. Credit: RoseAesthete/Shutterstock

Philodendron hastatum

This Philodendron, also known as the Silver Sword, is beloved for its arrow-shaped leaves that continuously grow downward, making it a perfect hanging plant.

“It’s a fast grower, very low light. You could put it in a basket. It doesn’t have to be in a window.”

Judi

Silver Swords are like the disco ball of plant décor; the bright green leaves shimmer in the sunlight. This Brazilian plant will surely bring tropical vibes to any room.

Silver Sword held by a female gardner is shimmering in the sunlight.
Silver Sword is shimmering in the sunlight. Credit: Amverlly

Let’s talk Dracaena/Sansevieria trifasciata…AKA snake plants!

You may know snake plants to be tall, flat, and skinny plants, but that’s just one of the many varietals.

Sansevieria Laurentii

The most popular snake plant, Laurentii, is also known as the mother-in-law tongue or devil’s tongue for its long shape.

Its sword-like foliage symbolizes cutting through negative energy, cleansing a space, and exuberating positive vibes. These are great plant companions to have next to you when studying for finals week.

Unlike its nickname, the mother-in-law is not high maintenance or attention seeking like Jane Fonda in the film Monster-in-Law.

Laurentii in a corner against a yellow painted wall with sunlight beaming through a window.
Laurentii hanging out in the corner. Credit: Grandpa/Shutterstock

Dracaena/Sansevieria trifasciata

This twisted leaf, rose petal-looking snake plant is called the Twisted Sister. These plants are native to Africa, notably Madagascar and southern Asia. They are a shorter variation of the more common snake plant, Laurentii, and make a perfect shelf plant.

Twisted Sister snake plant at Southern Horticulture.
Twisted Sister snake plant at Southern Horticulture. Credit: Abigale Kreinheder

Dracaena angolensis/Sansevieria cylindrica

This cylindrical snake plant is unique for its rounded sword-like look. This round snake plant is a forgotten gem that has been revamped and is returning. Botanists are constantly discovering new possibilities.

“The round ones have been around for a long time, but now they’ve come up with this variety that stretches out. It’s super cool.”

Judi

These mysterious sword-like plants do well hiding in the shade most of the day, so they are perfect for dark-lit dorm rooms. If you’re a college hermit who loves privacy and hanging out inside, this might be a great addition to your space.

Judi holding a cylindrical snake plant, an African spear plant.
Judi holding a cylindrical snake plant, an African spear plant. Credit: Abigale Kreinheder

Dorm plants that thrive with a little more sunlight

Zamioculcas zamiifolia

Better known as a Zz plant, this East African flowering plant symbolizes strength, vitality, and bringing happiness in the owner’s lives.

It is customarily gifted to single ladies hoping to get married, so in the spirit of Beyonce, all you single ladies should adopt a Zz plant if you want him to put a ring on it.

Plus, this plant is a true fighter, even if it’s extremely parched or unfortunately neglected. So don’t worry if you have a busy schedule or a bad case of scatterbrain because Zz will still be there when you get home.

Just make sure to keep this one near a window; it needs a bit more light to stay healthy.

Zz plant glistens in the sun.
Zz plant glistens in the sun. Credit: kyozstorage_stock/Shutterstock

Beaucarnea recurvata

Better known as the Ponytail Palm or Elephant’s Tail, this plant is great for South Florida homes and dorm rooms. The mini-indoor tree needs adequate sunlight, so it is better placed near a bright window and can even tolerate outdoor heat in direct sunlight.

“The big trick is to let it dry out.”

Judi

The long, thin leaves sprawl out from the bulbous trunk soaking up the sunlight like their beach bum owners. They are fine, left alone doing their own thing.

Judi holding a Ponytail Palm at Southern Horticulture.
Judi holding a Ponytail Palm at Southern Horticulture. Credit: Abigale Kreinheder

If only houseplants could swim…

Plants may be similar to humans in ways like companionship, but they can’t swim. Philodendrons, snake plants, and houseplants generally require less light and drink less water. They don’t dry out as fast as outdoor plants in full sun, so try not to drown your plant buddy.

“The biggest mistake you can make with any of these is overwatering.”

Judi

You can tell if you’ve drowned your plant if the leaves begin to turn yellow. If you see any yellow leaves, pluck the leaf from the stem to relieve the stem from rotting any further. A good rule of thumb is always checking the soil before watering to avoid drowning the roots.

“If the root system has started to rot, there is not much you can do.”

Judi

She stressed the importance of casually checking in on your plant once a week, but watering is most likely unnecessary more than once every two weeks.

“Get your hand in the dirt at least once a week to make sure it’s not too wet or too dry. Always touch the soil of your plants once a week to make sure because if the heat is on, if the vent is blowing and your air-conditioning is blowing, that might make them dry out more.”

Judi

Bring some fresh air and greenery into your college dorm room with any of these plants. It’s so easy; you can even purchase them online!

Written By

Graduated from Flagler College, with a liberal arts degree concentrating in political science, economics, and English to develop a multifaceted perspective on the world. What started as a childhood hobby, writing has become a passion and has formed into a career interest in Journalism.

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