The Best Plants for Schedule-Packed College Students

College dorms have never looked this green.
July 15, 2019
10 mins read

A college student’s dorm is their safe haven. When the day is over and there’s no more classes to catch, the dorm is the best place to be. College dorms, however, can be small, dark and cramped. The most surefire way to spruce up a dorm is buying a few plants or even finding a place to buy rare plants online, but with a full schedule, it can be really hard to keep a plant alive.

The pop of color a plant can bring brightens up any room, and a study shows that interaction with indoor plants can reduce psychological and physiological stress, things every college student deals with. Plus, some plants are proven to purify the air by essentially intaking certain airborne toxins and transferring them to their roots where microbes break them down. Here are 9 plants perfect for beginners in college, and they’re not just cacti and succulents.

1. Snake Plant

The snake plant, also referred to as “mother-in-law’s tongue,” is a plant with thick, waxy leaves that grow vertically. Its leaves are dark green and can have accents of lighter green in the middle. The snake plant is an especially strong indoor plant.


It can go up to a month at a time without water, so don’t worry if you miss a watering, which ideally should happen once the soil dries out. In addition to its aesthetically pleasing foliage, the snake plant was found in a study done by NASA in the 1980s to purify the air of certain chemicals, such as benzene and formaldehyde.

2. Peace Lily

When people think of easy to care for plants, it’s always prickly cacti and round-leafed succulents, but inexperienced growers will overwater them; here comes the peace lily to ensure there’s a plant for everyone.


The peace lily is a white flowering plant that goes easy on the water-happy growers out there who can’t seem to keep a cactus alive. Peace lilies also filter toxins in the air, scoring an 8 out of 10 for this ability in a study done at the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Guam.

3. Philodendron

Philodendrons are a classic hanging plant with nice, deep green leaves, so they do best in hanging baskets or on shelves where they can grow down and really become part of the décor. They like things on the drier side, so make sure the soil dries between watering it. They don’t usually like being watered more than once a week at most.


The philodendron scored a 6 out of 10 for its ability to purify air in the aforementioned study at the University of Guam. Another plus, especially in dorms where there might not be many large windows with access to bright sunlight, philodendrons can thrive in low light.

4. Chinese Money Plant

The Chinese money plant has a collection of shoots with big, round leaves at the ends making it a happy addition to any dorm room. The Chinese money plant is another plant that’s easy on the water and should only be watered on a weekly basis. Never fear if there’s only one small window; with its nice, deep green leaves, this plant prefers shady spots with indirect sunlight.


It is important to note that these plants aren’t sold in a lot of plant stores, so it’s best to either find one online, often at high prices, or get a clipping from a friend if possible. The slow-growing tendencies of the Chinese money plant make it an ideal plant for students since it needs little to no pruning to maintain.

5. Air Plant 

The air plants resemble certain popular succulents such as aloe with its thin, curved leaves. Air plants are an especially easy plant as they don’t need watering and usually don’t need direct sunlight, mostly because they don’t need soil.


Air plants should be removed from their containers and soaked in water for about 15-30 minutes once a week or so, all depending on time of year and climate. The drier the climate, the more the plant should soak. Make sure it’s completely dry before placing it back or else it may mold.

6. Golden Pothos

The golden pothos is another vine plant, such as the aforementioned philodendrons, with heart-shaped green leaves that can be variegated with pale green, yellow or white, making them each a unique and colorful addition to any dorm. Golden pothos only need to be watered when the soil feels dry.


Like most vine plants, golden pothos can grow down from hanging baskets, bookshelves or even be trained to climb to suit each individual’s environment and personal tastes. In the NASA study, golden pothos can thrive in low light, bright but indirect light or even under fluorescent lights.

7. Chinese Evergreen

Chinese evergreens are another notoriously easy plant to grow and maintain with its beautiful green leaves and silvery accents. This plant can also be a sort of inanimate lifelong companion. When first bought young, the Chinese evergreen is small, the perfect size to keep on desks or side tables, but as older plants, they can be repotted to be larger floor plants, though they grow so slowly college student shouldn’t have to worry about rapid growth and repotting.


This plant is forgiving with fretful and neglectful caretakers alike. Additionally, it does well in almost any indoor circumstance: warm or chilly, dry or humid and low/fluorescent lights to bright sunlight.

8. Kalanchoe

Kalanchoes are a kind of succulent, so they’re very easy to care for. Kalanchoes have thick, wide oval “leaves” when not in bloom. They need little water, so it’s advisable to only water them when the soil is super dry to the touch.


They prefer bright light, so a sunny spot on or by the window should do. One of the best things about kalanchoes is that they have flowers too, which can be pink, red, white or yellow.

9. Spider Plant

The spider plant is a vibrant addition with its long, skinny, light green, arching leaves. The spider plant prefers weekly watering but can make do if it has to skip a week or two. While not a vine like philodendrons or golden pothos, many people choose to showcase them on higher levels to accent the arching leaves and sprigs, upon which new spider plant babies are grown.


Not only did the plant score a 6 out of 10 for purifying air, but those baby shoots can be pruned and made to grow new plants, so it’s super easy to share the love with friends or other parts of the dorm.

There are countless other plants to fit every person’s unique skill, taste and circumstance. Everyone knows cacti and succulents need little to no care, but there’s something about foliage or flowers that the aforementioned plants have that isn’t quite captured with cacti prickles. With some more basic research, an open mind and just a little dedication, any busy college student can embrace their green thumb.

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