While there is no one specific recipe for plant styling, there are some basic guidelines to help you get started. The most important thing to remember is that whatever you do should reflect your personal style. Don’t be afraid to try a few variations on plants, planters, and their placement before settling on the ideal setup that works best for you. Look for inspiration around you. There is so much information, knowledge, and creativity out there. As long as you’re mindful of the care requirements for each of your plants, you can even try sitting with a few different setups to see how they feel. Perhaps you have a plant that you thought might be great in a certain location but come to find that it’s blocking the walkway a little bit or isn’t having the impact that you were hoping for. It’s all about trial and error, so don’t let that hold you back from adjusting as you see fit.
Houseplants come in a seemingly countless array of shapes, textures, colors, and sizes, so there truly is something to fit every home’s look and feel. Try to mix and match plants that have more structure and rigid lines with free-flowing plants that are more wild and lush. You can vary planter shapes, colors, and styles as well as plants of different textures, heights, and colors to achieve different looks. The possibilities are endless and it’s up to you to decide what works best in your space. Embrace the process!
As a Room Divider
Plants can provide privacy and help break up an open space by creating a breathable wall. Try topping a console table or bench with a row of vertical plants such as snake plants to create a room divider, or create a dividing wall of palms potted in a long rectangular planter on the floor. If you’re not a fan of a single rectangular planter, try grouping a few rounded planters together in a row. These will help break up the space without completely closing it off and allow nice filtered airflow to pass through. Alternatively, try using an open bookcase as a room divider and filling it with lush trailing plants. The shelves allow trailing plants to cascade downward, highlighting their foliage, and create a breathable wall. Try mixing in some nontrailing plants and nonplant items for variation as well.
Living on the Wall
If you don’t have the space for potted plants on a tabletop or the floor, mounting plants on the wall is another way to create a vibrant green focal point. It can also serve as a living art piece without taking up space elsewhere. There are specially made planters that lay flat against the wall that you can source. In addition to safely securing the planter to the wall, you’ll want to consider the light and watering needs of the plants, as well as the weight of the plants, since freshly watered plants can be quite heavy. Alternatively, you can also find epiphytic plants, such as staghorn ferns or wax plants, that are mounted on wood slabs that can be hung easily with some wire and a single nail or screw. Because these plants naturally grow on trees, the wood slabs closely resemble their native habitat. This is my favorite lightweight option for wall-mounted plants. Should you go this route, consider the ease and frequency of removing the plant for watering, as well as the drying time it’ll require before you return it to the wall—this will help you avoid water damage on the wall itself.
Shelves are a great way to display plants and utilize vertical space if you don’t have the room on the floor, windowsill, or tabletop. If you have ample room, this is where you can add an abundance of plants grouped together in a variety of planter sizes, along with a wide variety of plants. Even if you’re a minimalist when it comes to design, this could be an opportunity to maximize with greenery in a concentrated area. Experiment with varying trailing plants, such as a velvet leaf philodendron, a red mistletoe cactus, or a satin pothos, and combine them with upright plants, such as a ponytail palm or an elephant’s ear for texture and variation. As before, be sure to group plants with similar light needs together and consider the weight of the plants post-watering if the shelf is wall-mounted.
Hanging plants are a nice way to mix up the presentation of greenery in the home. They draw the eye to a different level, which adds a nice variation and interest to the space. Hanging plants can be used to create privacy in a window and are a great way to get plants into a space with limited surfaces on which to place them. Plants can be hung using specialty hanging planters with cords and a hook attached, or with macramé or fabric plant hangers that can hold many styles of planters, such as classic terracotta pots. Trailing plants like golden pothos, heartleaf philodendrons, string of pearls, spider plants, and wax plants are especially good candidates for hanging. Always make sure to leave an inch or two of space between the top of the soil and the lip of the pot to avoid water overflow and drips, and ensure that your ceiling can bear the weight of the pot, soil, plant, and water—they can get heavy!
Reprinted from House Planted. Copyright © 2021 by Lisa Muñoz. Photographs copyright © 2021 by Erin Kunkel. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.