Decorating with plants is not as easy as it first seems to be. You might have been bitten by the plant collecting bug, brought home a bunch of plants and are now looking at them thinking now what? How do I make them look good in the house? You might be tempted to hang a bunch on hooks or put up some shelves but in the end decorating with plants needs to be a fluid process because like you and your decor tastes – plants change over time.
One way new plant owners get frustrated in decorating with plants is that they wish to fill an empty corner with a plant. They might go out and buy one that is the perfect size and pick out a pot that suits their space but because plants are living things with needs, putting them in the spot they look best aesthetically might not always work out. Here are my top 10 tips for decorating with plants to help you out along the way!
Decorating with Plants – 10 Tips:
- Take your time – learn about the space you’re in and what it has to offer a plant by way of lighting, airflow, humidity etc. That way, when you’re looking for a plant for a specific space you’ll have a better idea of what will thrive there.
- Be realistic – It’s easy to acquire plant after plant after plant (ask me how I know ha!) but the truth of it is that some just aren’t going to work for you and your space. I don’t have cacti in this home as I just don’t have the intense light they require. It’s ok to let those plants that aren’t a great fit go.
- Layer – Keep things interesting! A line of pots on a shelf might work for 3 or 4 plants but you can’t do that with 50. I love decorating in layers and I always have – there’s no exception with plants. I pile them on top of books, typewriters, console tables, you name it.
- Mind your Surfaces – Terra cotta pots are not water tight and they can even wick moisture through the saucer if it’s unglazed. Make sure you don’t damage your wood or other sensitive surfaces with soggy bottomed plants.
- Leave blank spaces – Too many plants all in one spot makes each plant blend into the next. If you have some special plants that you want to draw attention to – leave some space around them.
- Pots – Pots can be expensive and it’s a good idea to think about your plant pots as a part of your décor strategy. For me, variety is the spice of décor so anything goes in terms of pots here and many are thrifted. If you’re keen on all white ceramic or only terra cotta that’s going to affect how you decorate with them.
- Textures – Decorating with plants is similar to decorating with pattern and texture. They need to compliment each other. Placing small leaves next to plants with larger ones creates a dynamic flow allowing each to compliment it’s neighbour. Avoid a large mass of plants that look the same unless you’re doing it for a strategic statement.
- Wall space – Plants can be hung against or directly on the wall allowing you fantastic vertical orientations for your display but keep in mind, some can attach to the wall and climb up it. It can cause damage to both paint and drywall if you let them get out of hand.
- Colour – The natural shades of green your plants will bring to your home can be treated as a neutral. Don’t worry too much about coordinating colours when it comes to plants though brighter coloured leaves can provide lovely contrast against darker foliage.
- Remember the light – Light is king. Let it guide you. I know that plant would look great in your windowless bathroom and yeah, it might stay alive for a while but don’t put your irreplaceable plants in there – okay?
Decorating with plants on Shelving Units
Shelving units are incredible places in your home to decorate with plants! They can provide a lush backdrop with which to highlight your other décor items. I love mixing plants in with books, art work, knick knacks and pretty much anything else you’d want to display on a shelf. If you’d like more ideas on styling a bookshelf here are 5 Trailing Plants to keep an eye out for.
Decorating with Plants on Walls
This is an example of leaving space around a plant to really highlight it. This is staghorn fern I mounted to a thrifted cutting board. The cutting board is teak and rot resistant. It also has little rubber feet that keep it off the wall so it won’t be damaged. It’s been in this spot for 2 years now and it is the star of an otherwise plainly decorated space.
Decorating with Plants on the Floor
The most common way of decorating with plants is to simply place them on the floor. As mentioned above, I like to bring some layers to the equation and as you can see here, I’ve piled up a few plants with stacked crockery. As the plants grow and change, it’s easy to lower them down by removing a crock here and there. Do keep in mind, corners tend to be a little darker so consider that when placing plants there. You might be able to use a grow bulb to make things work.
Decorating with Plants – Make a Vignette
There’s something whimsical about vining plants that I can’t ignore. I love setting up little scenes like this all over my house. This one makes me think about times gone by. The rustic textures of the wood and vintage pottery contrast with the luxe velvet leaves of this Philodendron Micans.
The piled up and layered scene below is another whimsical space. I love the contrast of the sleek ceramics against the organic feel of all that foliage. There’s a mix and match patchwork that keeps the eye moving and makes all the colours work together. Notice the empty space above the vases separating what could otherwise be an overwhelming mass of foliage.
There are spaces in my home that are stuffed with plants and there are places where I’ve decorated with a few plants. Small plants can get lost in the mix so I like to highlight them in more sparse locations like this typewriter below. These three plants have very unique foliage and I like being able to see each one as an individual here. As plants outgrow this location I move them and put propagations or other smaller plants here. This spot gets great light so I use it to my advantage when growing up little babies into larger plants.
Decorating with Plants Changes
One of the things you must keep in mind is that nothing stays the same for long when it comes to plants. They grow if we’re lucky and die if we’re not. You’ll have to change their pots out as they become too snug and overall it’s a dynamic way to decorate our spaces. I love the challenge of keeping up with their needs and moving things around until they look just so. It’s fun to watch a plant reach the ceiling or trail down to the floor and know that it can look good no matter what size it might be. And if it doesn’t? That’s ok too. Some plants can move on to new homes and some plants can be cut back and shared!
Decorating with Plants can be expensive – Mind your Budget
Growing indoor houseplants is an intoxicating hobby. Once I figured out that I could keep one alive my eyes become opened to all the different plants that are out there. It’s easy to go full on into Pokémon mode (gotta catch em all!) but financially it can take a toll. You’ll find a lot of enjoyment in growing your collection for less and even meet some people in the plant community if you try to take a different approach. There’s a lot of hype on social media so be aware of your shopping habits if only to just be aware of them.