Need some inspiration to cook something other than ramen noodles in your dorm room? Try growing some fresh herbs. They not only make your food taste great, but they also add a homey touch to your dorm room.

This is a beginner’s guide to not killing your plants in the first week after planting them. 

tea, coffee, cake
Sabrina Cohn

I personally love cooking in my dorm especially since I am lucky enough to have a full kitchen in my suite. The Italian in me cannot live without her fresh basil in everything, so I have to make sure I always have a fresh supply.

vegetable, grass, pasture, herb
Sabrina Cohn

I find it frustrating when I buy a bunch of fresh basil from the supermarket and end up only using a few leaves; the rest of it tends to just end up sitting in the fridge and rotting. And boy, do I hate seeing perfectly good herbs go to waste. 

Last year, I came up with an ingenious solution while I was daydreaming about my pots of herbs back home on Long Island. Why not keep a plant right in my bedroom? It started with just one basil plant, and it developed into a full-on herb garden. I have had some successes and some failures, here's what I've learned. 

Pointers That Will Save You a Lot of Frustration

1. Choose a windowsill with direct sunlight.

2. Succulents and woody herbs don’t need too much water, so if you forget to water them it’s no big deal.

3. Don’t over-pick, only pick what you are going to use. You have to allow the plant to regenerate.

4. Make sure you transplant store-bought plants into bigger pots. Crowded roots lead to sad plants.

Easy Beginner Plants to Awaken Your Inner Gardener

Here is a comprehensive list of low-maintenance, easy-to-find plants for any dorm or apartment. I hope this inspires you to give it a try.

1. Any woody herbs

Think thyme, rosemary, lavender, oregano, and sage.

2. Succulents

Cacti cacti everywhere! Although you can’t eat them, they are nice to admire, and some even have medicinal uses. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and require almost no maintenance. Their roots don’t mind crowding, and a little water once a week is all they need.

A good example is aloe. It is great for that occasional burn from all that cooking you are doing; just rip off the end of a leaf and rub it on the affected area. Others have crazy names like Crown or Thorns or Crassula. The name is not that important–just pick the one that calls out your name.

3. Spider plants

These are very common houseplants. But watch out! If you let them grow big enough, they shoot out runners. You can snip them off and have a whole new plant. It’s like magic!

Sabrina Cohn

I can’t even express the pleasure it gives me to pop into my bedroom while I am cooking to pick a couple of leaves of whatever I need. Sometimes, my friends enjoy participating in picking herbs while I cook as well.

I have to say, having plants in my room has greatly improved my dorm experience. I feel more motivated to cook and share my fresh ingredients with friends.

pasta, penne, basil, tomato, chicken, garlic, sausage, sauce
Sabrina Cohn

Pictured above is a meal I shared recently with my friends with a beautiful leaf of fresh basil sitting in all its glory atop a bowl of pasta with meatballs and accompanied by eggplant Parmigiana.