Dorm room decorated with indoor plants and a pillow embroidered with "good vibes".

Dormitory accommodations often entail tight, cluttered spaces that exude a sense of monotony and staleness, particularly in older facilities that may carry a lingering musty odor. The apprehension of decorating these rooms due to concerns of paint damage only adds to the challenge. A comprehensive remedy for these predicaments lies in the introduction of plants within your living space. Scientifically substantiated, the inclusion of plants offers multifaceted advantages, encompassing enhancements in mental well-being and an elevated aesthetic appeal.

It is not uncommon for students to hesitate in adopting this solution, driven by an array of reservations. These may include a lack of prior experience in plant care, concerns about time constraints, or apprehensions about the adequacy of natural light for fostering healthy growth. Rest assured, this blog post seeks to allay these concerns by equipping you with information on a curated selection of low-maintenance plant varieties ideally suited to enhance the ambiance and vitality of your dormitory, catering to both novice and time-constrained caretakers while thriving in environments with limited sunlight exposure.

The advantages of incorporating plants into your room are multifaceted and extend beyond mere aesthetics. Firstly, the presence of indoor plants has been empirically linked to substantial improvements in mental health. Scientific studies have consistently demonstrated that the inclusion of greenery in indoor spaces mitigates mental fatigue and enhances cognitive functions. In a dormitory setting, where students are exposed to a high-density campus environment, the implications are profound. Notably, indoor plants have been associated with heightened work performance, marked by increased efficiency and a reduction in sick leave—a particularly vital consideration given the prevalence of germs in communal spaces.

Moreover, plants serve as a natural air purification system, a pivotal benefit for dormitory occupants. They effectively combat indoor air pollutants, converting them into vital energy, thus contributing to a healthier living environment. Beyond their functional advantages, plants offer a unique and visually stimulating presence in an otherwise constrained décor environment. In dorms where painting walls or hanging art may be restricted, plants emerge as a compelling alternative to infuse vibrancy into the living space. Their diverse textures and forms invite a dynamic visual element, fostering an atmosphere that is both inviting and aesthetically enriching, thereby transforming an otherwise lackluster setting into a haven of green vitality.

As for plants that are more suitable for the dorm environment, it’s best to look for low maintenance plants that do not require much sunlight. Especially in San Francisco, the fog can make it pretty difficult for plants to survive. The added limitation of a small dorm room window that may or may not face the side of another building, blocking the sun, does not help either. Here are some low-cost plants that are ideal for your dorm:

Snake Plants – Available for as low as $30

potted snake plant

Snake plants excel in dormitory settings due to their adaptability and numerous advantages. With over 70 species and cultivars originating from diverse regions, they offer a wide range of heights, forms, colors, and leaf structures, making them suitable for virtually any dorm room. Their low-maintenance requirements, thriving in well-drained soil and forgiving watering habits, are ideal for busy students. Snake plants can endure both bright, indirect light and low-light conditions, making them versatile for various dorm room setups. Their upright growth pattern serves as an attractive architectural element without taking up excessive space.

Moreover, snake plants contribute to a healthier living environment by acting as natural air purifiers, effectively combating indoor air pollutants. They enhance the aesthetics of dormitory spaces with diverse leaf textures and shapes, revitalizing these often limited decorating options. However, it’s essential to note their toxicity to pets in pet-friendly dorms. In summary, snake plants provide a practical and visually appealing solution for dorm rooms, enhancing ambiance, air quality, and overall livability, while their easy care requirements make them an excellent choice for busy students.


ZZ Plants – Available for as low as $40

potted ZZ plant

The ZZ plant, scientifically known as Zamioculcas zamiifolia, is an ideal choice for dormitory environments, adapting to a wide range of growing conditions regardless of gardening experience. Within dormitories, ZZ plants can be strategically placed to enhance both aesthetics and functionality. Larger ZZ plant variants can be positioned near doorways and in underutilized corners, adding greenery to neglected spaces. Smaller ZZ plants are perfect for adorning office shelves or side tables, optimizing available space.

ZZ plants are often mistaken for artificial decor in waiting rooms and office settings due to their lush green foliage and waxy leaves. They tolerate neglect well and can endure extended periods without meticulous care, making them ideal for the demanding schedules of college students. They thrive in bright, indirect light but can also endure low-light conditions, even flourishing under fluorescent lighting, making them suitable for dorm rooms lacking ample natural light. Furthermore, ZZ plants are a safe choice for those worried about overwatering, as they can withstand prolonged drought periods, aligning perfectly with the erratic schedules of students who can enjoy the benefits of a thriving plant without constant attention.

The incorporation of plants into your dormitory can transform it from a mundane, potentially musty space into a vibrant, refreshing haven. Beyond just the visual appeal, indoor plants offer a wealth of benefits. They’ve been scientifically proven to enhance mental well-being, reducing stress and boosting cognitive function—an invaluable asset in a high-density campus environment. Additionally, these green companions act as natural air purifiers, ensuring a healthier living space by combating indoor pollutants. In a dorm setting where painting walls or hanging artwork may not be feasible, plants provide a creative solution to infuse vitality and aesthetics. For those concerned about maintenance, low-maintenance plant varieties such as Snake Plants and ZZ Plants offer a hassle-free way to enjoy these benefits, thriving in environments with limited sunlight exposure. Ultimately, embracing the world of dorm-friendly plants can truly elevate your living experience, fostering a sense of well-being, and enhancing the ambiance of your shared space.


Works Cited

The Sill. “The Benefits of Having Plants in Your Home or Office.” The Sill, Accessed 27 Sept. 2023. 

“Snake Plant: A Forgiving, Low-Maintenance Houseplant.” Penn State Extension, Accessed 27 Sept. 2023. 

Team, Proflowers. “ZZ Plant Care Guide: Growing Information and Tips.” ProFlowers Blog, 19 Jan. 1970,