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Dorm Decor: 3 Small Space-Friendly Plants for Your Room


Begonia Plant
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I’m the first to admit that I don’t have a green thumb. At home, I’m perfectly content watching my parents pottering around in the backyard garden, comfortably sipping lemonade in the kitchen and keeping my fingernails dirt-free. (I know, I know, I feel pretty guilty about it now.)

However, every interior design fan knows that the best way to make any space inviting and full of life is to add a plant or two! Silk flowers are great if you have an allergy to certain plants or are simply too busy to care for real ones, but after reading this article, virtually everyone should be able to pick up a plant at the local nursery or florist and easily care for it!

Below, I’ll describe some flowers and plant types that are ideal for small, enclosed spaces like dorms and apartments, all of which require little care. Let’s get started!

1. Succulents

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Succulents are perhaps my favorite easy-to-maintain indoor plant. They’re adapted to arid climates, and retain water so well that you barely ever have to water them. They’re gorgeous, come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and some, like aloe, can even have healing properties! Versatile and cheap, you can find them at any garden store.

Tips for growing succulents:

  • Keep them on a windowsill or near plenty of sunlight — remember, these plants are used to desert climates.
  • Take a hint from Design Sponge and upcycle a brick as a succulent holder!
  • Water them around once a month, keeping the soil moist. You can check the moistness of the soil by inserting a pencil into the soil and seeing if the soil sticks to the pencil easily.
  • Name them! (Okay, this isn’t really necessary, but I think that naming your succulent will help you remember to water it.)

2. Orchids

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When I was out dorm shopping last summer, I noticed a special on orchids in the garden aisle. I decided to buy one, mostly because of the large tag that informed me I would only have to give it one or two ice cubes a week to keep it thriving. Nearly two semesters later, my orchid plant is still residing happily on my dorm windowsill in a lovely white flowerpot, despite me leaving it at school for five weeks during winter break. Inexpensive, beautiful, and easily cared for, I highly recommend orchids to brighten up a dreary dorm!

Tips for growing orchids:

  • If you purchase an orchid from a store where they’ve packaged it in a plastic pot, make sure to repot it and give the roots enough space to breathe and air out.
  • Give it plenty of sun and water it weekly — a few ice cubes every week worked for me, but you could try Plant Watering Globes if you think you might forget!
  • Orchids naturally like to climb on other plants, so make sure to lightly attach the canes (where the flowers grow) to wooden sticks or other thin, sturdy supports, so they can grow up, not out.

3. Terrarium

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Whether they’re made in fancy blown-glass vases, DIY hanging globes, or even in mason jars, terrariums are a fun, trendy way to house indoor plants.

Terrariums are great for many reasons: They’re certainly easy to care for, and are definitely easy to move around — and there’s no chance of them spilling dirt all over your carpet! Basically, a terrarium includes a pebble layer, a soil layer, and dwarf plants that thrive in low light and high humidity.

Tips for making and growing a terrarium:

  • Whatever glass container you decide to build your terrarium in, make sure you can fit your hand inside it, to make planting possible.
  • Check out this terrarium-building tutorial that only takes an hour!
  • Overwatering is the biggest reason why terrariums fail — make sure to water an open terrarium every 7-10 days, and a closed one every 2 weeks or so.

What do you think?

Were these tips helpful? Do you have any plants in your dorm or apartment, and if so, which kinds? What are your tips for growing plants in a small space? Have you ever made a terrarium or grown succulents before? Let us know with a comment! 

Posted on on March 23, 2012 / Filed Under: Dorm Room / Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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16 Responses to “Dorm Decor: 3 Small Space-Friendly Plants for Your Room”

  1. 1
    March 23rd, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    I’m surprised that you included orchids. While they’re extremely beautiful, they’re also extremely finicky. If you don’t give them the proper amount of sunlight, water, or temperature, they quickly die.

  2. 2
    March 23rd, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Terrariums are usually filled with succulents though. I would suggest Spider Plants – they are super easy to grow and keep alive. Plus is you get a female you will have baby plants which you can easily root in a glass of water, plant, and give as gifts to friends :) I usually plant babies in a planter and put a little plastic dinosaur or reptile toy in the ground so it looks like a small diorama of sorts.

  3. 3
    March 23rd, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    I’ve got two cacti and an aloe plant on my windowsill! when you water cacti/succulents, make sure to let the soil drain well afterwards, so it’s not sitting in a puddle. I actually killed a cactus once because of this because it got too much water :[

  4. 4
    March 23rd, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    love this! i’ve been looking for a mini orchid for a while now. :)

  5. 5
    March 23rd, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    I SOOO want a terrarium!! I am working on a historical research project that looks at the development of terrariums in the 1800’s before the development of aquariums! I didn’t know they were still popular today for decor!!!!!

  6. 6
    March 24th, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Orchids are pretty when they are in bloom, but people think the look rather ugly and boring when they are not. This is extremely important to know when thinking about buying this sort of plant. Ps. the watering globes are HORRIBLE. Don’t use them unless it’s a plant that can handle over-watering.

  7. 7
    March 24th, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    What a great post! I totally want to go find myself a plant friend now.

  8. 8
    March 24th, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Another thing to note about orchids is that they’re low light plants – you can keep them in the window sill if you have an east- or north-facing window, but if your window faces south or west, place it back from the window so it doesn’t get too much sun. But they do fine as long as you don’t overwater them, so even if you forget about it for a while, your orchid should still do fine. :-)

  9. 9
    March 25th, 2012 at 12:10 am

    haha clearly I did something very, very wrong to my orchid, it died within like two weeks!

  10. 10
    March 25th, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    I would recommend bamboo plants! I only have to change it’s water every 1 to 2 weeks and it looks adorable in my room.

  11. 11
    July 17th, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    OMG The Dorm plant hit is the TickleMe Plant that closes its leaves when Tickled.
    It makes everyone smile when they grow it and Tickle the leaves and watch them move like crazy. Best of all its legal. Bet pet ever.

  12. 12
    August 10th, 2012 at 8:46 am

    I am growing a TickleMe Plant as well. It really reacts to affection by closing its leaves one by one

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