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College Life: Best Houseplants for Students

Mother of 2 daughters and grandmother of 7, I strive daily to achieve an optimum level of health and happiness. Life is all about balance.

Easy to care for houseplants perfect for college students.

Easy to care for houseplants perfect for college students.

House Plants Are Great for Dorm Room Décor

You don't have to go off to college alone. While you cannot take your pet to college with you, it is nice to know that you are usually allowed to adopt a living plant to come live in the dorm room with you.

These quiet house guests not only help to create a cheerful and relaxing atmosphere in your dorm room, but they can also help to clean the air there as well. They are the perfect companion to take to college with you.

Plants will listen to all of your problems, are generally fairly easy to care for, and best of all, they don't talk back when you say something that they don't agree with. So, which houseplant will be the best dorm room companion for you?

Plants That Make Great Conversation Starters

The Bonsai tree is a very unique plant for adding a little extra décor in a dorm room. It is cool to have a miniature tree in your living space, and most will feel the charm of this small greenery.

Another wonderful choice for college students and one that will make an excellent conversation piece as a virtual potted pet is the Venus flytrap plant. These little guys really do catch and eat flies. In a dorm room setting Venus flytraps rarely have to work too hard to acquire food. Helpful students are always willing to feed them.

The Venus flytrap is a plant that tends to be given the honorary status of a green dorm mascot or pet, and as such, is generally appropriately named. A few names suitable for this carnivorous college companion are Dracula, Spike, Ralph, Frank, Crazy Harry, and Priscilla.

The Venus flytrap enjoys munching on small bugs .

The Venus flytrap enjoys munching on small bugs .

Herbs and Medicinal House Plants

If you are looking for a plant that will add a nice, fresh aroma to the dorm room and be of other beneficial use as well, you may want to consider an herb plant.

Herbs such as mint, lavender, chives, lemongrass, parsley, or thyme are plants that are relatively easy to care for. They generally grow well in small containers and they don't usually mind if you snip off a clipping or two to add into your favorite beverage or meal.

An aloe vera plant is like having your own personal pharmacy sitting on your desk. The sap/juice of the aloe vera plant is known to aid in the healing of cuts and burns.

You can either poke or break off a small section of leaf to acquire the fluid of the aloe vera plant. If you are an accident-prone sort of person, you might want to invite one of these helpful plants to live with you.

Snake plants are easy to care for and are a great air purifier.

Snake plants are easy to care for and are a great air purifier.

Plants That Clean the Air Are Ideal for Students

Small, enclosed spaces can easily become rather smelly, which is why adopting a plant to simply help keep the pollution levels down in your dorm might be a good idea.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration conducted a study on the best houseplants for cleaning the household air around them, and one of these very helpful plants might just be the perfect addition to your dorm room.

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The common spider plant and golden pothos were two of the best plants for removing formaldehyde from the air around them. (Yes, this is a common air pollutant in buildings, scary huh?)

The flowering gerbera daisy and the chrysanthemum were the best plants for removing benzene from the air. If you like flowers, then you might want to consider one of these for your room. Chrysanthemums are very decorative and are available in a wide range of colors, but they also require a well-lighted area.

If you are not so hip on flowering plants then consider species of plants that were all shown to be very good at purifying the air.

Air-Purifying Plants

  • Bamboo palm
  • Dracaena massangeana cane
  • Mother-in-law's tongue
  • English ivy
  • Peace lily
  • Fig tree
  • Chinese evergreen

Keep it little. Smaller plants are naturally a good choice because a dorm room is not all that large. This eliminates most plants that eventually grow into trees, shrubs, or bushes from your list of options.

A Good Luck Charm?

A good luck charm is always a thoughtful gift choice for a friend or family member, so why not gift a lucky plant? There are a few choices in this category, but the top three would be these delightful items:

  • bamboo plant
  • money tree
  • lucky shamrock plant.

Any one of these would be a delightful addition to a student's desk.

A cactus Is an easy-care plant requiring very little water.

A cactus Is an easy-care plant requiring very little water.

Plants That Do Not Require a Lot of Attention or Sunlight

Low light plants are ideal for enclosed spaces which makes them ideal for a student's dorm room. When a student goes off to school, getting a dorm with windows is not always an option. Even when there is a window in the room, the lighting can still be quite dim.

Low-Light Plants

  • Bamboo palm (a.k.a lucky bamboo)
  • Philodendron
  • Spider plant
  • Janet Craig dracaena
  • Dragon tree
  • Peace lily
  • Snake plant
  • Pothos vine

A very low care plant for the dorm room is the poky old cactus. Famous for not requiring a great deal of water, cacti come in hundreds of varieties and the best thing about them is that they really do require very minimal care.

If you tend to be a little careless, forgetful, lazy, or just plain old confused, then one of these green fellows may be the perfect plant for you.

Personal Top Plant Picks

There are many houseplants that are excellent for removing toxins from the air. Indoor pollution can be a real problem, especially in the winter months. One of my favourite plants for this is the spider plant. It is easy to care for and lists high on the list as an air cleaner.

I have always loved spider plants and the golden pothos so I was very pleasantly surprised when I did research on plants and pollution to discover that both of these rank very high for their air-cleansing abilities.

I really like the Venus flytrap but have heard that they do not like chlorinated water so you have to get them fresh rainwater or bottled water.

I am known for accidentally killing some plants, so easy-care plants are high on my adoption list. Jade plants and violets cringe if they see me walk by.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Lorelei Cohen


Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on March 25, 2018:

Lorelei, this is a timely page - am planning on adding several plants to our living room this spring for the purposes of air cleaning. Your list of plants that don't need a lot of sun are up my alley. We have several plants in the family room already, including a spider plant. Don't know how, but I've managed to keep them alive for 15 or more years! Youza. what luck, because I too have been known to bring a few to an early demise. I've discovered that over watering and not being placed in the best spot re sun or shade was the biggest mistake.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 25, 2017:

You've created an interesting list of houseplants for students. I love having some greenery indoors. If I were a student, I've definitely want some of the plants that you describe in my dorm room.

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