10 Perfect Houseplants for Dorm Rooms

houseplants around a window in a small dorm desk

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Dorm rooms are not always the most inspired of places, but houseplants can make a world of difference. Plants soften the edges, bring some life in, and provide great physical and emotional benefits. 

So where to start? Obviously, the average college student is not going to want a complicated plant-care routine. These selections, like the air-purifying spider plant, contain a variety of health-boosting properties, are easy to care for, and won’t break the bank. 

Here are 10 houseplants for dorm rooms that are a perfect fit for the college lifestyle.

Warning

Some of the plants on this list are toxic to pets. For more information about the safety of specific plants, consult the ASPCA's searchable database.

1
of 10

Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)

overhead shot of person with cup of tea and small jade plant on work desk

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

This succulent shrub is the perfect plant for any student who is too busy to water on a consistent basis. A popular indoor variety, the jade plant will add a lively touch to any dorm room while not demanding too much from its caretaker. It should flourish as long as it is placed near a sunny window.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Part shade.
  • Water: Medium.
  • Soil:  Well-drained, loamy potting mixture.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
2
of 10

Aloe (Aloe vera)

A bright aloe vera in a white pot in front of a sunny window.

 Emilija Manevska / Getty Images

Aloe is a common houseplant that can fit perfectly on a dorm room shelf and can withstand the dry conditions often experienced over winter break. When the sun comes out and the weather warms, aloe’s gellike sap can be used to treat any sunburns formed at those long, poolside study sessions.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun.
  • Water: Dry.
  • Soil:  Sandy and well-drained.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
3
of 10

Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)

hand places cast iron plant in terracotta pot on desk

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

The cast iron plant, named for its ability to withstand abuse and neglect, is practically indestructible. The shiny, dark-green-leafed perennial typically grows about three feet tall, making it ideal for placing on top of a dorm room mini-fridge. Although the cast iron plant can tolerate periods without receiving water, it prefers regular watering.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Part shade to full shade.
  • Water: Medium.
  • Soil: Well-drained, peaty potting mixture.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
4
of 10

Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)

lucky bamboo plant in window next to books while person reads

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Lucky bamboo is a hardy and versatile plant that is a great fit for dorm life. It can be grown in either soil or water, as long as a substrate, like pebbles, is provided. Although its name implies otherwise, lucky bamboo isn't actually a bamboo plant — it's just named so for its close resemblance to bamboo cane. The stems can be shaped to form a variety of patterns, like loops or hearts.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Part shade to full shade.
  • Water: Medium.
  • Soil: Evenly moist soil or in water with a substrate.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
5
of 10

Urn Plant (Aechmea fasciata)

A bright pink urn plant getting sun near a window

3283197d_273 / Getty Images

A member of the bromeliad family, the urn plant makes for an attractive addition to any dorm room. Its bloom is a beautiful, showy display of bright pinks and violet. The plant prefers bright, filtered light, so consider placing it on a desk near a window for inspiration while studying.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Part shade.
  • Water: Medium.
  • Soil: Consistently moist, but well-drained.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
6
of 10

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

bright green spider plant on desk with books and clock

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

A spider plant is a low-maintenance option that purifies the air and tolerates the artificial light found in dorms. They are also quite easy to propagate, giving a cash-strapped student a roomful of plants for the price of one. Another advantage of spider plants is that they do well when grown in space-saving hanging baskets.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Part shade.
  • Water: Medium.
  • Soil:  Well-drained.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
7
of 10

Money Tree (Pachira aquatica)

A Guiana Chestnut plant sits on the floor in front of a white wall.

 Mykeruna / Getty Images

A handy plant to have nearby while studying for a test, the money tree is thought to bring good luck those who keep one, according to Feng Shui teachings. For best results, keep this plant under bright light and in evenly moist soil. The money tree often features an attractive, braided trunk.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full sun to part shade.
  • Water: Medium to wet.
  • Soil:  Consistent, even moisture.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
8
of 10

ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

ZZ plant in window while hand reaches for book

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

There are not many houseplants more resilient than the ZZ plant. This low-maintenance perennial manages to remain stoic, even in the face of adverse conditions — including lack of natural light, low humidity, or drought (as in, forgetting to water the plant). The likeliest way to harm a ZZ plant is by watering it too much.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Part shade to full shade.
  • Water: Medium.
  • Soil: Well-drained.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
9
of 10

Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodrendron hederaceum)

A closeup of green heartleaf philodendron leaves

Ali Majdfar / Getty Images

Often planted in hanging baskets, the heartleaf philodendron is an easy-to-care-for ivy that won’t take up too much space in the dorm. Stem cuttings can be easily propagated in the springtime and make for a perfect gift for fellow students. Philodendrons should receive bright, indirect light and frequent watering.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Part shade.
  • Water: Medium.
  • Soil:  Soil-based potting mix.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
10
of 10

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema commutatum)

chinese evergreen plant in gray pot against neutral background

Treehugger / Preeya Manoorasada-Marsden

The Chinese evergreen is a showy perennial that performs well despite inconsistent care, making it ideal for the busy college student. Atmospheric dryness and frequent shade are both tolerable for the Chinese evergreen, but it should receive water before the soil dries out completely. Keep this plant near a window with indirect sunlight, if possible.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Part shade to full shade.
  • Water: Medium.
  • Soil:  Well-drained and peaty.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.