5 Low-Light Plants Perfect for Your Dorm
When moving into a new place, you might want a plant to make the place greener and more alive-feeling. However, many dorm plants or house plants can be needy little suckers. These five though, will only die if you are actively trying to kill them.
1. Holiday Cactus/Christmas Cactus.
Our first dorm plant is the Holiday Cactus, a succulent that is actually any one of three varieties of Schlumbergera. There are differences, but they don’t really matter in this context. One of the major upsides of this particular kind of succulent is that it has vibrant flowers that bloom during the winter months, hence the name “Christmas Cactus.” If you’re planning on getting one, there are a few basic guidelines to follow to keep this plant healthy. The first is to make sure the pot you’re keeping the cactus in has a drainage hole, so that the soil doesn’t get too wet. They only need to be watered every two weeks or so, and you should make sure the soil is decently dry before watering. These cacti need bright indirect light and decently warm temperatures to thrive, but too much sun can actually harm their leaves. They’re a little more demanding than some other plants on this list, but their flowers make them worth the extra effort.
2. Ox Tongue Plant.
Our second dorm plant is the Ox Tongue, or Gasteria. It’s another succulent, and is closely related to Aloe plants. One of the great things about this plant is that there are many, many variants of it on the market. Ox Tongues are also hardy and adaptable plants, and can survive in pretty much any lighting conditions, but will grow best in bright indirect light. As succulents, they’re also great at going for extended periods without water, to the point where watering them more than once a week can actually be dangerous to the plant’s health, in fact, the main danger to them is root rot caused by overwatering. They don’t need much food, and can survive in pretty small pots or containers. As long as you don’t let them get too cold or too hot, they should survive pretty well. As mentioned previously, they have hundreds of crossbreeds, variations, and cultivars, so you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to how you want this funky little plant to look. They will eventually sprout flower stalks, but it can take years for the plant to mature enough to bloom.
3. Echeveria elegans.
Dorm plant number three is a hardy succulent known by the common name “Mexican Snowball”. I would have just put the whole of the Echeveria genus on this list, as they’re all excellent succulents, but that would mean I’d have to write 140 basically identical descriptions of a small succulent plant, and that would be painful for both of us. Echeveria elegans is considered an excellent beginner succulent due to its hardy nature and ability to endure long periods without water. You may be sensing a theme here, but one of the main causes of death for this plant is overwatering. This plant is also quite beautiful and doesn’t take up much space, making it ideal for small areas like dorms. It likes partial sunlight and warm conditions. Basically it would like the climate of Arizona far more than it would like Seattle. That’s not to say you can’t grow one of them in Seattle, but you’d have to keep it indoors, you understand where I’m going with this. Another great thing about these tough-as-nails succulents is that they’re immune to most blights or other plant diseases. Insects can still mess them up, but that probably won’t be as big a problem indoors. Overall, they’re pretty great.
4. Panda Plant.
Dorm Plant number four is Kalanchoe tomentosa, or the Panda Plant. This hardy succulent is native to the African island of Madagascar, and some cultivars can grow up to two feet in height. One of the interesting this about this plant is the fact that its leaves are pleasantly fuzzy to the touch. Like most succulents, it’s easier to overwater them than it is to underwater them, and they prefer medium to full sunlight. If you’re keeping it indoors, you shouldn’t need to worry about humidity, and should only water it when the soil its in becomes dried out. The reason the plant’s leaves are fuzzy is that it uses the fuzz to retain water and deflect harsh sunlight. However, certain bugs may try to live on the plant, so check for them once in a while. Indoor panda plants rarely flower, so if you want one that blooms, go looking for a hybrid or cultivar. Something to note about the Panda Plant is that all parts of it are toxic to pets such as dogs and cats, so I wouldn’t recommend this one if you have a pet.
5. Zebra Haworthia
Our final dorm plant is yet another succulent, Haworthia faciata, also known as the Zebra Plant or Zebra Haworthia. This delicately spiky little plant is a perfect beginner succulent, and gets its common name from the “stripes” of white tubercles which grow from its long slender leaves. Like most succulents, the Zebra Haworthia can go for weeks without water, and is vulnerable to root rot caused by overwatering. Unlike most succulents, it’s capable of thriving even in low-light conditions, and its sensitive leaves will actually dry out if exposed to too much sunlight. Medium-ish levels of light are perfect for this little guy. They don’t like freezing temperatures much, but if you’re keeping it in your dorm or apartment that shouldn’t really be an issue. If for some reason the indoor temperature of your dorm regularly does drop below freezing, well you’ve got bigger issues than your succulent dying. Zebra Haworthia tends to thrive in commercial cactus potting mixes that drain well. They don’t grow super large, so they’re great for small indoor pots or planters, and are non-toxic. Unfortunately, they tend to not flower when grown indoors, but are great succulents otherwise.