College dorms can be lifeless places. Despite your best efforts to inject some vitality into your room, the Marilyn Monroe poster on your wall and the pictures of your family on your desk can’t completely overcome the dim fluorescent lights or the lovely view of the brick wall through the window. A pet would be nice, but most colleges don’t allow animals besides fish, and who wants a grumpy old betta in an undersized tank anyway?

Houseplants are an easy way to revitalize even the blandest of rooms. Cheap, easy to care for, and visually appealing, these living pieces of dorm décor add a sense of brightness and tranquility to any living space. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, there are a host of interesting and hardy plants that thrive in residence halls.

Amaryllis. Big, beautiful, and fast-growing, amaryllises produce huge blooms only six weeks after planting. They are available in a variety of colors, such as white, pink, and red. Readily available during the holiday season, you can buy the bulbs in pre-packaged kits containing a pot and soil for growing. Amaryllises require a lot of sunlight, so this flower is ideal for dorm rooms with large windows.

Cacti. Bizarre in appearance, a cactus can give your dorm room a unique aesthetic and function as a conversation piece; if nothing else, it’ll get your roommates talking. Despite their exotic look, cacti are easy to acquire, and stores like Walmart and Home Depot offer many different varieties of cactus at reasonable prices. They are also hardy plants, and despite their desert origins, many species are able to withstand very low temperatures. Give cacti as much sunlight as possible, and don’t over water.

Aloe vera. This is an old standard in the world of houseplants, but for good reason. Aloe vera is tolerant and easy to grow, with an unusual and attractive appearance. It’s also highly prized for the healing gel in its leaves, which can be used as a home remedy for everything from sunburn and acne. Aloe requires sunlight and well-drained soil; be careful not to overwater it.

Moss. A moss terrarium is one of the most foolproof ways of adding green to your dorm room. Simply take a large glass jar and line the bottom with a layer of fine gravel, followed by a layer of dirt. Place the moss on top and close the lid. The self-contained environment of the terrarium means that almost no watering is necessary; just be sure to give it a spray if you see that it’s become dried out. Moss gardens’ small size and minimalist beauty make them a quaint addition to your dorm room.

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About Blake Campbell