Easy Houseplants for Dorms 

Author: Madison Dougan

I remember moving to college and the very foreign feeling I was overwhelmed with for the first couple of months. The feeling was very similar to anxiety but with a breath of fresh air. Now I am not a psychologist, but I think this feeling was a  bowl full of excitement for a new beginning with a dash of being homesick. I remember coming home to the silence of a stranger rather than my dog eagerly awaiting my arrival and the bombardment of kisses. I remember constant dishes piling up and my mother nowhere in sight to yell at us to clean them up, or even better, making my little sister do them. At this point in the semester, I’m sure the exhaustion has set in, and you’re trying to keep up with how many more absences you have left in each class. Or possibly, which teachers you’ve already used your grandma as an excuse for your absence. Your dorm room is never going to be like your home, but it is your home now. I’ve always found, for myself, that the presence of nature can transform a very unfamiliar space into a place of comfort. I know what you’re thinking: “Whatever the opposite of a green thumb is, that’s what I have!” And I have been there before! Becoming a plant mom has been one of the most rewarding things but simultaneously one of the most frustrating. There is no amount of water, sunlight, or fertilization that can help when you are not good at gardening. To avoid this learning curve, I have done some research for low-maintenance house plants. I actually have some of these plants in my home myself and would love to share my personal experience to make the process more straightforward. 


Now, to introduce the plants:




Temperature: This plant enjoys warmer conditions; a suggestion would be at  60-85ºF.

Lighting: This plant enjoys partial shade; a suggestion would be in a corner that gets direct sunlight for about two hours a day.

Watering: Only water when the first quarter inch of soil begins to feel dry to the touch; this should be about twice a week.

Fertilization: Fertilization is only required if the plant’s quality is poor


I have five pothos I cohabitate currently, and I absolutely adore these plants. They trickle down beautifully and are perfect for a shelf, desk, or even a centerpiece. Personally, one of my favorite things about these plants is their variety. I own silver, pearl, and jade, golden, neon, and marble queen pothos. I have had my golden pothos for about four years and recommend this plant to anyone newer to the plant game. My experience with mine is that it has been very “vocal.” I know that seems like a weird term, but it is the truth! When it needs water, it droops down, and as soon as you water, within minutes, it’s perked back up. In addition to this, if you ever begin to over water, it will develop yellow leaves that are easy to remove. On the opposite end, if you are underwater, it will shrivel up and become a brown color. These plants are also perfect for propagating and giving as gifts!

Heptapleurum Arboricolum (Umbrella Plant)


Temperature: This plant enjoys warmer temperatures; a suggestion would be at 60-75°F.

Lighting: This plant likes partial sunlight; a suggestion would be a corner with the sun for about two hours a day.

Watering: Water when soil is dry.

Fertilization: Use a diluted fertilizer once a month from spring to fall

I have had my umbrella plant for about six years now, and the tactic I have used has been the “hands-off” approach, and it has LOVED it. I have always put this plant close enough to the window but not too close. As far as watering, I MAYBE water this guy once a week. Even when I had forgotten about it and went away for the weekend, old faithful was just fine. Like the pothos, when it is overwatered, it develops tiny yellow leaves that are easy to remove. I think in total, I have repotted and given fresh soil to this plant only once. I would recommend this plant on your desk or maybe a nightstand that is not right up against the window. 


Aloe Vera


Temperature: This plant enjoys warm temperature; a suggestion would be 70°F.

Lighting: This plant enjoys bright light; a suggestion would be by a window.

Watering: Soil should be kept moist but not soggy/ water scarcely during colder months.

Fertilization: No fertilization required.

Now I might be biased, but everyone should have a little aloe vera plant in their home. I think that they are so cute and can be useful for burns. I currently live in Charleston, SC, where sunburns happen quite a bit. After a long day at the beach and my cheeks look a little red, I trim off a piece and squeeze the aloe onto my skin to soothe it. I am a huge fan of owning plants that can be used for more than just aesthetics, and this is one of them. My experience with them is that they do not require a lot of work. Mine is placed on my window in my living room, and it seems to have enjoyed its time there. This plant is on my rotation with some other plants that get watered every 2-3 days, which seems to be perfect. 


Final thoughts:

Biophilia is the phenomenon that human interaction with nature can increase our positive effect. In my experience, I 100% believe the truth to this. When we do not have the time to completely immerse ourselves into nature as we would like, our houseplants are there! With all the stress of school and being away from home, everything is never permanent, except my golden pothos. Kind regards.



For the love of House plants. House Plants Guide And Tips – Houseplantsexpert.Com. (n.d.). Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://www.houseplantsexpert.com/. 

Greiner, K., & Weber, A. (2007). Houseplants from A to Z. Barron’s. 

Hoobler, D., & Hoobler, T. (1975). House plants. Grosset & Dunlap. 

Kamran, M., Kwong, B., Oshimi, Y., van der Velde, N., & Yao, S. J. (2018, April 5). Plants Promoting Happiness : The Affective Influences of Plants on Human Emotion [R]. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0374279


About the author:

Madison is a current student at the College of Charleston studying Communication and Environmental Sustainability. She is a fun-loving individual and finds herself most at home amongst the people she loves. She is always planning her next adventure and finding new ways to challenge herself. She enjoys connecting with nature as well as the people experiencing it with her.