At this time of year college-bound students and their parents are busy making preparations, gathering together all the important supplies needed for a life away from home. Along with pillows and posters, a small houseplant can also help personalize dorm space. Knowing that plant care won’t necessarily be high on the list of student priorities, here are some houseplants that are easy care and will add flair to a room.
Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Pothos, or devil’s ivy as it is also known, is an attractive trailing foliage plant, which doesn’t need bright light in order to do well. That being said, variegated varieties do appreciate being near a window in order to maintain their leaf coloration. Cultivars may have single colored leaves like the bright green ‘Neon’, or be variegated such as ‘Marble Queen’. Needing watering only when the soil is dry to the touch, pothos can grow several feet long over time. Variegated varieties are slower growing, and N’Joy in particular stays compact.
Radiator Plant (Peperomia spp.)
These small plants also need minimal attention and while most are tolerant of lower light conditions, some like Ruby Glow peperomia (Peperomia graveolens) do best in brighter light. Peperomia ‘Ginny’ offers attractive tri-colored leaves, while varieties of ripple peperomia (Peperomia caperata) have interesting wrinkled, heart-shaped leaves. There are trailing varieties too, the most common of which is String of Turtles (Peperomia prostrata) which is a small, slow-growing plant with leaf patterning that looks like the back of a turtle. FYI these plants are also pet safe.
Snake Plant (Dracaena, formerly Sansevieria)
Snake plant is one of the most tolerant of neglect. While it prefers bright light, it can quite happily grow in low light levels and needs minimal watering. It also performs best in root-bound situations, adding to its tolerance of benign neglect. Dracaena trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ is a popular tall variety having long, variegated leaves, while dracaena trifasciata “Golden Hahnii’ is more compact, and is known as Bird’s Nest Snake Plant. Another interesting snake plant is Dracaena angolensis, African Spear Plant, which has narrow cylindrical leaves and can grow several feet tall. Under optimal conditions, D. trifasciata will flower, producing stalks of airy, white flowers.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider plant is another easy-care plant, which trails by means of producing baby plants on the end of stems. With thick, fleshy roots, this plant is tolerant of neglect, as its roots can store moisture, and can be found with either solid green or striped leaves. This too is another pet-safe plant that doesn’t need bright light in order to do well, and is also considered an air purifying plant.
Succulents and Cacti
If a really well lit spot is available, then cacti and succulents are the perfect easy-care plants. Both require very little watering and will thrive on what seems like neglect. If a prickly cactus is not appealing despite the prospect of beautiful flowers, then a succulent may be more your thing. Succulents come in many forms from the rosettes of echeveria and haworthia, through trailing plants such as burro’s tails (Sedum morganianum) and the strings of pearls, bananas, dolphins and tears (varieties of Curio succulents), to the more upright forms found in the likes of jade plants (Crassula ovata). Succulents will also flower, although the flowers tend not to be as colorful as those of cacti.
ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
This is another plant that needs infrequent watering as it grows from fleshy rhizomes, capable of storing water. In addition it will also tolerate low light, although it prefers medium bright conditions. With its shiny green leaves, ranged along stems in pairs it makes an elegant foliage plant. ZZ ‘Raven’ is an attractive variant, having bright green new growth that ages to a deep purple-black. And if you are up for the challenge of providing ideal growing conditions, you might be lucky enough to induce your plant to produce a flower, similar to those found on peace lilies.
Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
Lucky Bamboo is not a true bamboo, but actually a member of the dracaena family, and is therefore related to the popular Corn Plant, Dracaena fragrans. This is an easy-care plant, that can grow quite happily in a container with just its roots submerged in water. Success with this plant requires the water level to be maintained, and that this water be refreshed every couple of weeks. As a gift to bring good luck, health or wealth according to the number of stems given, it can be found braided and wound into interesting patterns and shapes.
These are a selection of readily available, easy-care houseplants – ideal for that first foray into “plant parenthood”. Pair them with a colorful or quirky cache pot to make an individual style statement.