A Student’s Guide To Caring For Succulents In Your Dorm Room

If you’re going off to college soon and have been given a succulent (or have recently bought your first one) then you’ll probably want to know about caring for them. While succulents are known for being easy to care for they do still require a little bit of thought and care.

In this article will look at what you need to do to make sure your first succulent not only survives your college days but thrives too.

How do you care for your succulent?

Being known for needing very little care there are only a few basic things that succulents really need. As you would expect light, water, soil, and the right sort of pot are crucial.


Not all succulents like direct sunlight (some prefer to be further away from intense sunlight) so you should place them in an area where they’ll get around six hours of light a day, whether it’s direct sunlight, indirect sunlight, or grow lights. 

Personally, though I wouldn’t advise grow lights in a college dorm, while they are good (I’ve used them myself lots of times in the past), they will take up space and increase the cost of your electricity bill, although this is only really applicable if you’re renting an apartment.

Window sills or desks are ideal places for succulents


Succulents don’t need a lot of water and are far happier with less water but that said you will still need to water them every once in a while. Depending on your succulent (and the conditions you keep it in) you may only need to water it every two weeks or possibly every month.

It’s also worth noting that you shouldn’t mist the plant, but water the soil instead. This is because succulents are from arid environments so they don’t like water sitting there on their leaves for a long time.

Not sure how to water your succulent? Watering for optimal growth and health.

Succulents don't need watering as much as other plants


Chances are your succulents will either have been given to you or will have come from a garden store so you probably won’t need to worry about the soil. That said though, if you’re propagating a cutting or are repotting your plant you’ll want to go for soil that’s well-draining.

Looking to change your plant’s soil? What succulents really need from their soil.


Again like soil you probably won’t need to worry about the pot your new succulent is in, but if you do want to change it then you should choose one that has drainage holes so the water can drain out. These types of pots will often have saucers or trays to catch the water that’s drained out.

If you don’t go for a planter with drainage holes then you can use a small plastic pot with holes and just place it inside your regular pot instead.

The ideal material for platers (regardless of whether they have holes or to) is terracotta as it’s a natural material that will quickly remove the excess water. Don’t worry if you don’t like the orange color of the pots though, while they are better like that you can easily paint them or buy them ready painted. Etsy has a great selection.

Putting a tray under your succulent planter will help to keep excess water away from your plant


All plants absorb sunlight through their leaves so you will need to dust your succulent from time to time, otherwise, their leaves will end up caked in dust and your plant won’t be able to absorb any light.

Don’t worry, it’s easy to dust them though. All you need is a damp (not wet) cloth to gently wipe the leaves. If the leaves are delicate though you can use a blower brush instead to blow the loose surface dust away. You can easily pick up one with a brush from your local photographic shop, but I personally prefer one with a nozzle rather than a brush. That way you can direct the puff of air to harder-to-reach places. I had a quick look on Amazon and came across this one from LS Photography, I know it has a lens cloth too but it’s cheaper to buy it with one than it is to buy a different brush!

How do you transport your succulents when you leave college?

Once you’ve finished college and are ready to move out you’ll obviously want to bring your stuff with you, but while your books, clothes, and tech can be easy to put into boxes your succulents won’t be quite so easy to transport. While a tall succulent like the snake plant won’t be too difficult, smaller ones such as the echeveria or delicate ones like the sedum burro will be a bit more tricky.

I’m sure everybody will have their own tips and suggestions of what to do but, as somebody who’s moved around a fair bit, I thought I’d give you my tips.

To start with don’t water your succulents too close to your move date, vehicles tend to have poor airflow (even if the aircon is on or the windows are open) which means any water will stay with the plant. Ideally, you should water them no sooner than two weeks before you’re ready to move. This will mean that the soil is damp enough to keep the plant hydrated but not wet enough to cause problems.

You should also wrap packing paper (or any paper really) around the plants and then put them into a strong container so that they will remain upright. You can use a plastic box but if the plants are small enough I like to use a cardboard drinks holder (like the sort you get at McDonald’s). This makes them easy to transport but also stops them from falling over.

Once you arrive at your new destination unpack your plants and check them for any signs of damage. Once you’re happy they’re okay place them in a similar location (in terms of the amount of light they’ll get) to where they were before and then leave them for a few days. After a few days, you can water them if they need it. 

I hope you found this article helpful. If you did I’d be grateful if you could share it please as it would really help me.

Recent Posts