With the indoor jungle aesthetic dominating Pinterest boards, knowing how to design with your indoor plants is more in-demand than ever. These design tips will up your indoor plant game, without treating your living friends as inanimate objects for decorative purposes only.
Placing Plants by Room
A popular plant care principal is to place your plants by room. The theory is that certain plants will thrive in particular rooms because of their conditions – ferns in bathrooms, a fiddle leaf in the dining room, and so on. There are whole books written on which plants should live in which rooms. This theory tends to overlook the fact that, while there may be some common traits, the conditions in rooms are not universal. Your bathroom may be the only room with a sunny window while your living room remains the darkest corner of your house. But disparity in conditions doesn’t mean you should throw out this tip altogether – instead, place your plants by room according to the design value they add to they space.
Living areas, where you spend most of your time, are for leaves. This may be heavily biased (my favourite plants are the leafy tropical ones) but large indoor plants with big leaves seem to make a room more natural and inviting. Monsteras are a go-to, with philodendrons or a fiddle leaf fig a close second. These plants, especially large mature ones, look like impressive design features on their own. Indoor trees (Ficus benjamina or Ficus longifolia are great options) fill up empty corners without making the room feel crowded. Put a mirror next to it, and you’ll have double the space and double the plant.
Moving to the kitchen, space is usually at a premium. Counter space is covered in appliances, and shelves with crockery, leaving little left for plants. This is the perfect opening for compact plants that provide loads of kitchen utility – herbs. Herbs need a lot of direct light, and regular watering, which is why it’s handy to have them in the kitchen. Place them in front of a sunny window and check their water levels as you stroll past while making dinner.
Bathrooms, with their small spaces and frosted windows, can feel claustrophobic. Adding a couple of ferns embraces the small space, making you feel as if you’re surrounded by a hidden forest. Because they love moisture, you can leave a few ferns in the shower with you to really get up close and personal with your plants.
If you’re lucky enough to have a sunny balcony, front entrance, or patio – succulents are your answer. Many gardeners attempt to grow succulents indoors as they are described as ‘easy to care for’. Unfortunately, though they may require little care, succulents are not great indoor plants. They need direct light for most of the day to grow and retain their compact geometric shape, a condition that is difficult to find indoors. That doesn’t mean they should be out of your repertoire forever – bright windows or outdoor spaces that get a lot of sun are perfect for succulents. They don’t need a lot of attention (they’d actually prefer a bit of neglect) so leaving them out of sight is not a problem.
Using the Space
As much as we’d love to place indoor plants everywhere, they need a dedicated surface to live on for good design. Unless it is a massive plant or indoor tree, leaving plants on the floor can make your home look messy and cluttered. For fellow overzealous plant parents with upwards of 30 plant children, this can be difficult to avoid.
Instead, add dedicated spaces to group your plants – either a shelf or a tabletop – to create a specialized indoor garden. Another convenient solution is to use the space above your head – buy hanging plants. You won’t take up any living space, and you get to use space that would normally be wasted. By giving plants their own dedicated space, they will never look out of place. Your care routine also becomes much easier – all the plants are in the same space, and your tools can be stored with them. If you are using existing surfaces, like bookshelves or TV stands, try to group your plants together in threes to make them more visually appealing.
Grouping plants together in a room makes for eye-catching design, but grouping all the plants you own in one place can have the opposite effect. A mirage of green in one corner of your home with the other rooms bare can be jarring. Depending on the conditions, and how many plants you have, try distributing them throughout your home for consistency.
To Pot Cover or Not to Pot Cover
The purpose of a pot cover is design, so it should follow that covering each plant in a pot cover will make your design better. There are no doubts that arty pot covers look great and make your plant placement seem more intentional. However, they can be extremely expensive. Instead, choose one or two covers or stands for your favourite plants and place them in the prime locations where they are always seen.
For your other plants, you can stick to plastic. They may not have the greatest look, but uniform plastic pots in the same colour tend to fade into the background when your plants are grouped together. And they serve an important purpose – highlighting the plants themselves. You don’t want any competition or clashing between the look of the plant and the pot it’s in. With black plastic, that is never a concern.
More is More
A personal favourite tip is that you cannot have too many indoor plants. Adding at least one plant to each surface is a good start. Alternatively, set aside a dedicated table with plants and other décor pieces. Floating shelves can be loaded with tall and trailing plants. Boring bookshelves can be transformed into an interior design masterpiece with a few ferns or a philodendron. Any surface that is not used at least daily can be bombarded with plants.
But, before you pack the car with as many plants as you can fit, remember the priority is always plant care. As stunning as they look, don’t take on more plants than you can, or are willing to, care for properly.
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