Dorm-friendly Gardening

Photo by Chris Young | The Signal

A dorm room, pallid and as personal as a rental car. The college apartment, a frenetic, messy crash. Many students are so overwhelmed with classes, they don’t put thoughtful effort into their environment. But a little effort can go a long way towards more comfortable surroundings. Enter: Plants.

A pop of color, air freshener, a calming ritual and RA approved too. Plants in your living space can add so much.

FOR THE FORGETFUL

Caring for a plant doesn’t have to be a huge endeavour. There are a variety of plants that do well in pots, prefer shade and can tolerate irregular watering (don’t worry, it happens to everyone).

If you are less than careful, avoid ferns and other water intensive plants. Choose Snake plants, Peace Lily or English Ivy, which have the added bonus of filtering common pollutants. Aloe or a succulent might seem like an attractive and low maintenance option, but few apartments or dorms get the required sun. If that’s not a issue for you, consider yourself lucky. Set one of these up next to a window, set a reminder on your phone and you’re done.

FOR THE CULINARY

There isn’t much you can’t do on a kitchen counter, growing plants included. If you’re looking to get more than decoration from your plant, an herb garden is one of the simplest but most delicious things you can have.

George Sanko is the founder of the Georgia Perimeter College Botanical Garden, and he said herbs are one of the hardest kinds of plants to kill. Basil, thyme and dill will make your room smell nice, but if you’re a known plant murderer, mint and rosemary are the way to go. They all do well with moderate sun and frequent watering.

FOR THE SHADY

Not everyone is blessed with abundant natural light, but that doesn’t stop some plants!

For this kind of house, Sanko recommends ferns and summer blooming flowers. Sanko has an affection for the Christmas fern and Azaleas.

“They do real well in shade,” Sakno said. “And in the winter, when the blooms die back, you’ve still got a fern for visual interest.”

FOR THE AMBITIOUS

If you lust after a round, red and ripe tomato, or the crinkling curves of Kale, you can still get your fix if all you have is the balcony or porch of your apartment. Forget a yard, pots are just as good.

The key to growing plants in pots is preventing the plant from becoming ‘root bound’. This means the root system of the plant has grown to fill, and be confined by the boundaries of your pot.

If your plant is browning and your watering is regular, you might be root bound.

“You can move it to a bigger pot,” Sanko said. “You could prune the roots, or you could split it and replant it in two pots.”

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