Rebecca Kiss/Contributing Photographer Pictured: Three potted plants on a windowsill. Studies have shown that plants help increase attention spans and decrease stress.

One of the best ways to add style to a dorm room is to accessorize with plants. Studies have shown that being in or around nature can decrease stress levels and that having plants in a room can increase attention. For those of us who don’t exactly have a green thumb, Pipe Dream is here to help. While one might expect plants to be difficult to keep alive, some are actually quite easy to take care of. Here are six low-maintenance plant choices to add a fun and productive vibe to any dorm room.


Orchids are a lovely addition to any dorm room because they add an element of beauty with their colorful blooms and also produce a light fragrance. Two of the most popular orchid varieties are moth orchids and lady’s slipper orchids, but there are many more great options. Orchids only require water every seven days or so and instead of pouring water into the soil, you can give it one or two ice cubes a week, depending on the size. Orchids do need sunlight, but artificial lighting can be used. These plants should be repotted once a year to avoid becoming stale, but otherwise orchids are easy to maintain.


One of the more exotic plants to decorate a dorm with is cacti. These plants are very simple to maintain since they love dry, desert-like environments. Bunny ear and baby golden barrel cacti are some popular options. Cacti should be watered thoroughly, allowing excess water to seep through drain holes in the bottom of your pot. However, once watered, the plant should not be watered again until the soil is completely dry. Less is more in regards to watering your cacti, but they need regular water just like any other plant. Sunny spots by windows or artificial lighting will work for these plants.

Lucky Bamboo

Bamboo is a type of plant that enjoys moisture, so it is simple to take care of. Bamboo plants that come in water and pebbles should have enough water to cover the roots at all times and the water should be changed every few weeks. If your bamboo is in soil, the dirt should be kept moist, neither soggy nor dry. It is helpful to mist the plant every couple of days to ensure a moist environment. Distilled water is better for the bamboo plant than tap water, but if tap water is the only option, allow the tap water to sit in an open container overnight to evaporate the chlorine. Bamboo makes a nice desk plant since it requires low to medium light and is also considered to be lucky.

Peace Lily

For those who have a large open space for a plant, a peace lily is a great option. Since it is larger than the other plants suggested, peace lilies are ideal for a common room. One of this plant’s best qualities is that it works to keep air fresh, which is a great help in a stuffy dorm room. Like the bamboo, peace lilies require their soil to be evenly moist at all times and thrive best in bright light. While this plant is especially beautiful, it can be toxic if ingested, especially in large quantities, so keep them away from animals and don’t eat them yourself.

ZZ Plant

It is almost impossible to kill this plant. These plants store water in their stems for weeks so they require little maintenance. However, be sure not to over-water it, meaning there is excess water visible. This drought-tolerant plant does well in any lighting situation, making it perfect for a dorm room where sun may be difficult to come by. Beware though: this is a poisonous plant just like the peace lily, so avoid ingesting any parts!

Cut Flowers
For those who still feel hesitant about the commitment of taking care of a live plant, there is still hope to fill your room with nice plants. Freshly cut flowers are a great way to add decoration to a room, on a table in a common room or in the corner of a desk where you do work. Most grocery stores have a supply of bouquets with roses, gerbera daisies, tulips and peonies being popular choices. To extend the life of these flowers, stems should be cut at an angle to prevent the stem from resting on the bottom of the vase and sealing itself off from its water supply. Also, be sure to use tepid water, not cold or hot, remove any dead blossoms and change the water to increase the lifespan of these bouquets. While a more expensive option, bouquets are a great, low-maintenance option for dorm planters.