Really Green Living: Dorm Plants for the Blackest of Thumbs

You know, I realized shortly after I wrote about the top five small-space animals that, well, not everyone can have animals. Now, I know that there are certain people who sneak by their ordinances and ignore the rules of the college/landlord/whatever and keep their critters regardless of what is and isn’t allowed. But for people who do want to follow the rules or having a pet right now just isn’t feasible, how about brightening up your room with a little green?
Plants do a lot more good than people give them credit for. As we all know from third grade science, they take in the gross carbon dioxide we breath and give us back lung-friendly oxygen. They also do an amazing job of cleaning the air. They can also filter pollutants in our air – stuff that come from everyday house products like plain old bug spray, spray starch, and even glue. And studies have proved that in work places that had plants had up to a 40% reduction in headaches, sour throats, and coughs. There was also an 84% increase in well-being. If you don’t like numbers, though, let me put this in laymen’s terms: plants + your dorm = happier, healthier place.
So, how do you know what plants to get that’ll help the most? That’s why I’m here. No worries. Since I don’t have to lay things out the way I had to with the critters a few articles ago, I’ll give you nine – because I just couldn’t find a good number ten – of what I think are the best dorm-plants, once again in order of care. (If you’ve never really taken care of a plant before, check this site out first. Plants need more than just water and sunlight if you want them to be really awesome!)

Jade: I recently almost entirely killed one of these – because I didn’t water it for almost two months. It’s coming back now. That’s how hardy these things are. They like the average room temperature. They prefer bright light or full sun, but they can tolerate all the way up to partial shade. Allow the soil to dry a bit (stick your finger in the pot; if the soil is dry for the first inch, it’s time for a drink) between waterings. Jade is a pretty slow grower, so repot them every two or three years. (Aloe Vera are pretty much identical to Jade in care, so you can opt for either.)

Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Snake Plant): These guys’ name always made me laugh, but despite the implied harshness, they’re pretty easy to take care of. They too like bright light or full sun. They can handle just about any temperature. Let the soil dry a little between watering on these guys, too. They’re a pretty slow grower, so repot them every two years or so.

Spider Plant: Don’t be creeped out by the name; these guys get their title because of the little baby plants they produce. (Share the abundance with a friend!). These guys can stand up to a lot of abuse. They like average temperatures and thrive in well-lit but indirect light. During spring and summer, keep the soil moist, but not sopping wet. During fall and winter, though, let the soil dry a little between watering. You can even mist them if you’d like, since they love humidity. Only repot them if you can see the roots coming out of the bottom of your pot.

African Violet: Another flowering plant, these guys will give you the cutest little flowers totally at random throughout the year. They’re another fan of bright light, but they don’t like full on sun a whole lot. Allow the top soil – about half an inch – to dry between waterings. DO NOT get the leaves wet! They’ll get brown and shrivel up. You really don’t have to repot these guys at all, because they really like being root bound.

Pothos (Devil’s Ivy): If you’re into vine-like plants, Pothos is your plant. They like bright light and enjoy partial sun. They’re okay in average room temperature, but they thrive in warmer areas (70 – 90 Fahrenheit). Let the water dry as much as you would for African Violets. They like misting too. Repot these guys during the growing season (spring/summer) only if they’re showing their roots.

Chinese Evergreen: These guys have HUGE leaves – and they get pretty big, too. Really, if you have one, you don’t need any other plants. They love shade and are great for rooms without much sunlight. They’re fine in average temperature, but keep their soil fairly moist (again, don’t drown the poor things). Repot them when they’re getting really rootbound.

Christmas Cactus: These guys have gorgeous flowers when they bloom (and incase you haven’t figured out when that is, it’s around Christmas). They love bright light/full sun, as well as warmer temperatures. Water them with the same frequency you would a Jade or a Snake Plant. Getting to flower can be a little tricky; check out this site for more care info.

Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily): You’ve seen them before, all lined up in malls and probably at Easter services. Their flowers are huge and gorgeous. They’re another one that like indirect light and average temperatures. Their soil should stay fairly moist, too. Take good care of them and they’ll always have a flower up for you.
These plants are all pretty popular, so it’ll be easy to find them at your local nursery (and sometimes you’ll even see plants like African Violets and Spider Plants in big grocery stores). And even though I put them in order of care, they’re all outrageously easy to take care of, so don’t worry if you’ve got a withered brown thumb – these guys can make any plant-killer look like a regular horticulturalist.

The Faithful Friend Part Two
The Faithful Friend Part Two
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