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During back-to-school season, stores around here are stocked full of those colorful Betta fish. Conveniently, fish are the only type of pet you’re allowed to have in dorm rooms. I had terrible luck with our finned friends as a child, so instead of rushing to the pet store I went to the garden section:

I’m proud to announce that four years later I have not only managed to keep this plant alive, but it’s quadrupled in size. It’s enough to bring tears to my eyes.

Plants can add just as much color and life to a room as a fish without the fuss. They also have a lot of redeeming health benefits – including reducing stress and improving indoor air quality. And contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of varieties of houseplants that don’t require a green thumb to maintain:

-Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)  – My plant, pictured above. Give it soft, indirect light and a ton of water for best growth, but can go days and days without being watered.

-Aloe Vera – Best known for its usefulness in soothing painful cuts and burns, Aloe Vera only needs to be watered when its soil is completely dry, which may mean watering only every two or three weeks.

-Snake plant (Sanseviera) – The leaves of this tall, waxy plant can thrive for weeks without water.

-Heart-leaf philodendron – Though these heart-shaped leaves are adorable, they’re so easy to care for that they’ll quickly vine and try to take over your entire room!

-Bamboo – These little plants can grow in little pots of water or in soil. On top of that, they’re practically indestructible – no wonder they’re said to bring luck!

Now that you have plenty of choices, all you have to do is find a place to put it:

It's unlikely the college student budget allows for an expensive vase or pot to keep a houseplant in. Try repurposing objects, like these coffee cups, to hold your new green friend.

Happy planting!

Still not convinced your brown thumb can handle a houseplant? Click the links below for more easy-care varieties and tips on how to keep them growing:

Forgiving Houseplants

Low-Pollen Houseplants

Shade-Loving Houseplants

Video: Low-Light Houseplants

Video: Houseplant How-To

How to Revive Houseplants


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7 Responses

  1. MaryPA says:

    Bought this plant for my daughters dorm room its gone crazy. xD

  2. Ginger A. says:

    Plants definitely add life to a room, and a perfect touch for a dorm room

  3. Candace says:

    I'm going to get a bamboo plant for my daughter's room. She would like that look I think.

  4. Amanda says:

    Great plant advice for dorm room decor! Container gardens really can be as complex or as simple as you'd like – even my brown thumb can keep one going! (And I wouldn't give myself the same credit for a betta fish…)

    Here are some additional container garden tips: http://bit.ly/Oqr2Og

  5. Leslie says:


  6. Vera says:

    Personally I like the aloe vera plant. Easy to care for and useful too.

  7. Jae Blish says:

    Basically wanna input on couple of general points, The web site layout is perfect, the articles is truly excellent : D.

Jessica YonkerJessica Yonker is a editor for HGTV.com and a professional glitter handler. She loves decorating her friends' homes without their permission and practicing for her inevitable appearance on Chopped. Like...


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