Inside the Homes of Instagram’s Top “Plantfluencers”
Very convincing reasons to go green.
Published Dec 25, 2019 12:00 AM
More so than rare vintage finds or DIY-ed IKEA upgrades, plants are one of the most impressive home furnishings—after all, it’s impossible to accidentally kill an accent chair. That might just be what makes plant-filled Instagram feeds so enticing: They showcase spaces filled with lush greenery, using plant life as a key design element that brings the outdoors inside to create a sanctuary-like effect. It’s almost impossible to take a glimpse at any given #Plantstagram and not find yourself considering the purchase of a fiddle-leaf fig (or, okay, a pothos).
You don’t need to have a totally green thumb to add some plants to your space, even if you consider yourself a plant novice. With some advice from the experts (the #SoDomino “plantfluencers” we’re currently loving), you can craft a plant-filled home in no time. Read on for their best tips in their own words.
Erin Harding, @CleverBloom
Plant philosophy: I love having plants in my home. Creating a tropical space in an otherwise mostly gloomy environment helps me battle the winter blues. My favorite thing is collecting plants or cuttings from friends—having plants with a story behind them makes them even more special.
Best place to keep plants: My plant placement is determined mostly by light. Most, if not all, of my plants are within a few feet of my south- and west-facing windows. Of course, I move them around to take pictures, but their main home is near a window.
Favorite decorating tip: The biggest thing for me is finding beautiful handmade pottery to house my plants.
Best plant advice: Start with a few easy-to-care-for plants, add in more as you see fit, and find creative ways to display them around your home.
Summer Rayne Oakes, @homesteadbrooklyn
Plant philosophy: I had lived with a roommate who had always liked plants but mainly cut flowers. When she moved, I began to take a good look at the place. It felt really empty, so initially I got a plant to warm up the space, which was my Ficus lyrata. I’m an environmental scientist and entomologist by training, so the plants I have are of great interest to me. I particularly like pushing the boundaries to see what can grow indoors—you know, plants that aren’t particularly considered houseplants.
Best place to keep plants: I’m grateful because I have generous light in my home. Large southwest-facing windows bring in intense light for most of the year—which is suitable for cacti, succulents, herbs, and some flowering plants—and large northeast-facing windows on the opposite side provide a nice cool sun in the morning and gentle light all throughout the day, which is perfect for many foliage varieties.
I’ve also brought in grow lights. I have a keen sense as to how a lot of my plants grow in the wild, so I’m always trying to re-create those conditions. I’m constantly moving plants, but I usually do it in waves. Some plants have never moved from where I put them, as they’ve just kind of taken on the space and made it their own. My Marsdenia floribunda vine is an example of that—it’s in my vertical swing garden and has clambered up it and found a crack in the ceiling for which to latch itself into.
Favorite decorating tip: My plants bring me pleasure and keep me calm and curious—and they give me an opportunity every morning to do what I call a moving meditation. I’ve somehow managed to nestle them into my space where they feel extremely natural, as if they were supposed to be there all along.
Best plant advice: Don’t focus on the outcome. Focus on the journey of gardening and learning about your plants.
Kristina Bing, @kbing
Plant philosophy: I grew up in a house that was always filled to maximum capacity with plants, so it was in my blood to continue the tradition in my own space. I love the way it feels when you find a plant that you know you have to bring home with you. My favorite part of collecting is figuring out whether or not we are going to get along—I have this three-week trial period with any new plants in which they decide if they want to live with me or not, like a date.
Best place to keep plants: I like to choose plants that need high light due to the fact that my space has bright, natural light. I move them if I notice a change—sad or browning/yellowing leaves. The plants get to decide where they go, even if they look really cute in a particular place. If they are unhappy, it’s not worth it, because otherwise the plant will RIP.
Favorite decorating tip: When I moved into my current place, I had so many plants that I placed them before I placed some smaller furniture pieces. I love adding plants in colorful pots to shelving units and even in my kitchen, as well as plants with interesting-shape leaves so they work as art pieces. I also place them—even if they are small—in the bathroom and kitchen so that the greenery is spread throughout the entire space.
Best plant advice: Pick plants that match the lighting you have in your home. I have personally killed a number of fiddles and rubber trees, and I felt bad every time one died. Always look up the care info online and give the plant time to adjust to your space before giving up on it. Stick your fingers in the soil and don’t overwater—I’m also guilty of overcaring for my plants sometimes. Pay attention to your plants, and you’ll be an expert.
Morgan Doane, @PlantingPink
Plant philosophy: I love having plants throughout my home because it means there is life around every corner. When my plants thrive in the spaces I provide for them, I am proud of the work I’ve put in to keep them healthy. I love that plants come in all shapes and sizes and that they reward me with new growth when I treat them right.
Best place to keep plants: I try to provide each plant I own with as much bright sunlight as possible. There are only so many plant-friendly spots in any home depending on available light from windows, doors, and skylights. Once I find a spot that a plant likes, I tend to keep it there for as long as it stays happy and healthy. I’ve had my Monstera deliciosa in the same spot near my south-facing living room windows ever since we moved in about four years ago.
Favorite decorating tip: Certain plants are statement pieces just by themselves and can serve as anchors for the rest of my decor decisions. My Monstera deliciosa takes up a whole corner of my living room, but it works because it has a high ceiling and big windows to keep it happy. I’ve brought other pieces into the room to complement the plant. I had always heard that you should pick out something you love and design a room around it—so I did that with a plant rather than an armchair or coffee table.
Best plant advice: Figure out your lighting situation before bringing plants into your home. Know which direction your windows face: South-facing windows will be brightest throughout the day, followed by west-facing windows with bright afternoon and evening sunlight. East-facing windows will have good morning light, and north-facing windows will be the least bright all around but are still suitable for certain low-light–tolerant plants. I have had a Peperomia prostrata in my north-facing dining room window for four years, and it’s one of my most popular plants on Instagram.
Patricia Garcia, @3chacha
Plant philosophy: I love nature, and plants give such good vibes to any space. Being able to admire their beauty is absolute bliss—and let’s not forget the health benefits, too.
Best place to keep plants: My apartment doesn’t get much direct sunlight, but there’s enough to keep a couple of cacti, succulents, a medium-size Monstera deliciosa, and many others alive and happy. There are some that don’t need as much light, so they’re scattered throughout the house. During spring and summer, I place a few plants next to and on top of the radiator. During winter, I find a new spot for them to keep them away from the heat.
Favorite decorating tip: My home is a bag of Skittles. There’s color everywhere, and my plants add the green touch. They are in baskets on the floor and walls, and in between and on top of books in cute ceramic pots. They are a very important part of my decor, no matter where they are placed.
Best plant advice: Start with one or two plants and learn as much as you can about their needs. If you manage to keep them alive for at least a couple of months, then continue adding to your collection. I don’t believe in the “hard to kill” plant list, like sansevieria, aloe vera, pothos—I’ve killed them all before. I’m not proud of it, but I kept trying until I became a proud green mama of all the above mentioned.