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Dorm Room Gardening

(photo © Maria Schwartzman 2008)

Tending to a plant or a small garden can be very relaxing and rewarding, creating a sense of responsibly along with something physically fruitful. Plants brighten up a room, add fresh air, and can also be very useful to have around if you grow vegetables, herbs, or medical plants such as Aloe Vera. Here are some suggestions on what to grow and how to do so in your dorm room.

What to Grow:
Vegetables - Peas, small carrots, and cherry tomatoes are all easy to grow inside in a pot. You can also try lettuce. Fresh naturally-grown veggies are really nice to have around and taste really good!
Herbs - Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme…among others like Sweet Basil and Cilantro. Herbs are very easy to grow and grow pretty quickly. These are also great to have around to add to pasta sauce or a chicken dish, or anything else you can think of.
Flowers - Wildflowers, bluebells, geraniums…there are literally hundreds of flowers to pick (no pun intended) that you can easily grow in your room. Flowers are a sure way to brighten up a room and make it smell fantastic. However, make sure that you (and if you have a roommate) are not allergic to the flowers you plant.
Other Plants - Spider Plants, Aloe Vera, other cacti, small vines, bamboo - all are great options for dorm rooms as they don’t tend to take up too much space. They are also easy to trim down to the size you desire.

How to Grow:
It is important to read all the planting directions on the seed for whichever plant you choose, or to look up information on your plants before buying them. This way you know how much light and water the plant needs, along with desired temperatures and pruning advice.
In general, most plants, especially vegetables, like light and a good drink of water. But all plants are different, so make sure you aren’t overfeeding, underfeeding, over- or underexposing it to too much light, or getting it too cold or too hot.
You will probably want to find a secure, well-lit area in your room, such as by your window. Hopefully the ledge of your window is wide enough to allow small pots (around 5-8in in diameter, depending on the plant) to sit on it. If not, try finding a table or bookcase to put the plants on while still letting them get enough light.

If You Don’t Have a Green Thumb:
If you want a plant in your room but are afraid you will kill it, I recommend getting a cactus. They can survive a while without water (so you don’t have to remember to water it every day) and basically don’t need very much attention. Even better, I recommend getting an Aloe plant, since you can actually use them for something. Aloe is great for applying to cuts, sunburn, etc.

What I Grow:
Just as some reference, I am currently growing Peas, Black-Eyed Susans, a Wildflower mix, Aloe, a Spider Plant, and a Bamboo plant in my room. In the past I have also grown Parsley and Sweet Basil.

If you have questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment below!