Leaves that Last

Leaves that Last

A guide to dorm room plants even YOU can take care of

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Your work is piling up. You haven’t worked out in weeks. You forgot about those smelly leftovers in the fridge. You just want to get one thing right this week. Enter the houseplant.

Yes, even you can take care of a plant. You just have to choose the right ones! Here are five house plants you’d have to try to kill, so you can have that win.

Money Tree (Pachira aquatica)

Money trees symbolize luck and prosperity, and I know I could use a bit of both right now. Depending on how much light the tree is getting, you should water it every one to two weeks. Between waterings, the soil should be dry when you stick your finger in to the first knuckle. You want to water it deeply but infrequently; let the faucet run until water is streaming out of the pot’s holes. It likes a mix of direct and indirect sunlight. Rotate 90 degrees every time you water it so it gets an equal amount of sunlight on all sides.

Full Instructions

Snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata)

This sturdy plant is also known as Saint George’s sword, viper's bowstring hemp and mother-in-law’s tongue (yikes). I knock mine over or close my window onto it almost on the daily and it has yet to give up on me. Similar to the money tree, you only need to water it about every one to two weeks. Root rot can be an issue with snake plants, so make sure the soil is completely dry between waterings. The snake plant can withstand drought conditions, so overwatering is much more of a problem than underwatering. When you do water, water it deeply by letting the faucet run until water is streaming out of the pot’s holes. It can tolerate full sun and low light, but indirect sunlight is ideal.

Full Instructions

Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)

Also known as golden pothos, this plant is super drought-tolerant. My roommate jokingly called it “the trash plant” because it’s so hardy. I once forgot this plant over winter break in my dorm, and when I came back six weeks later, it was just a little yellow but perked up right after I watered it. That said, watering it every one to two weeks is a good schedule. It can survive low light conditions, but filtered sunlight (like through a sheer curtain or blinds) or bright artificial light is best.

Full Instructions

ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Also known as Zanzibar Gem, this plant’s waxy leaves make it seem like it’s made of plastic, so you can surprise people with your real plant parenting skills. Like the snake plant, the ZZ plant is very drought tolerant and can survive a few months without water. However, it would much prefer you water it every one to two weeks. Just make sure the soil is completely dry before you do. It can tolerate many light conditions, but bright, indirect sunlight is best. Too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves.

Peace Lily

Yes, you can grow flowers too! The great thing about the peace lily is it tells you exactly what it wants (It’s a shame your Tinder match isn’t the same way.) Your peace lily will get noticeably droopy when it needs water. But do not fear! Take it to the sink and let the faucet run over it making sure the water is running through the holes of the pot. Let it drain until no more water is dripping from the bottom and you're done! Within hours, it will perk right back up. Keep it out of direct sunlight but in a well-lit room. However, it’s pretty tolerant of low light.

Note: While reporting this story I almost killed this plant. Yes, I can see the irony. I was watering it every 10 days and as I learned later, that was too frequently. The peace lily droops when it needs water, but it can also droop when it’s overwatered. Yellowing leaves can also be a sign of overwatering. After consulting a houseplant expert (a.k.a. my grandma), I learned that the foolproof way to check if your lily needs water is to gently pull the plant out of the pot (Do this outside or over the sink.) and feel the bottom. Is it dry? Then it’s droopy because it needs water. Is it very wet and are there possible mold spots? Then you have overwatered it. Remove any moldy or rotten roots, make sure the pot you’re using is draining correctly and LEAVE IT ALONE until the bottom is dry again.

Full Instructions

General plant tips: