Dorm Plants to Eat

                                            Photo taken by dinesh_valke

TheGardenLady received this question from Elena:

I want to spruce up my college dorm with something living, but I would also like to spruce up my dining hall meals. Last year I tried pepper plants, which unfortunately suffered because I was unable to change their soil. I was hoping for some general herbs- basil, rosemary or fennel. Preferably something that wouldn’t require special lighting, frequent soil changes, or religious watering. I am good at caring for plants, in general, but cannot guarantee that I won’t be absent for up to 4 days at a stretch. … For decoration, I usually keep cacti for this reason. I’m also at school in Cleveland, so light quality in the winter can be very poor, aside from artificial light.

Once again, with school comming up soon, students want to decorate their dorm rooms with flowering plants or herbs. Some of TheGardenLady’s suggestions are in the articles What Flowering Plant is Good to Grow in a Dorm Room? and Growing plants in your dorm room.  Most of the plants that grow in low light don’t have flowers such as

  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Cast Iron Plant
  • Calathea
  • Prayer Plant
  • Button Fern
  • Creeping Fig
  • Pothos
  • Philodendron Vine
  • Remember that flowering plants like lots of light and/or sunlight besides their special temperature needs when they are grown indoors.
  • Herbs, especially, need sunlight to manufacture the oils in their leaves that make them so tasty. That is why grow lights were invented for indoor plant growing. Most rooms do not have enough light for flowering plants.

When you go to buy plants for the dorm, check where the plants you want are native to. When you see that plants, like the herbs, are from the Mediterrean area, you know normally they get lots of sun and dry warm temperature. Annuals like marigolds come from Mexico or Africa where they get hot, sunny days. So if you want the plants to flower, you have to duplicate the needs of the plant.

If you cannot put grow lights up in your room,  and you do not really have sunlight streaming into your rooms, go for the non flowering plants listed above or in other posts on TheGardenLady site.

Two low light requiring indoor flowering plants you might try are:

Peace Lily – The peace lily (Latin name Spathiphyllum) was elected “desk plant of the year 2007”! The peace lily is the most popular plant to have on your desk while working. The peace lily was elected the No. 1 desk plant because of its ability to refresh the air. The peace lily apparently generates lots of oxygen. These low light indoor plants are more commonly seen in offices, but even they need to be near a window that allows sunlight at least three to four hours per day. Indirect sunlight over the course of the day is ideal. You will want to frequently turn the peace lily so that it doesn’t grow and lean toward the light. They will bloom year round with white cupped hand shaped flowers. The flowers have a light scent and are long

African Violet – They do not like sunlight but do need light.

About leaving your plants for short periods of time, you can amend your soil with a water holding crystal that helps keep soil from drying out. This product is sold in nursery or hardware stores. These crystals absorb water and slowly release it which makes it easier to keep the roots wet without having to water as frequently even when you are in the dorm. TheGardeLady uses Schultz Moisture Pluse watering crystals but there are numerous other brands.

Good luck with beautifying your dorm room with living plants.

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