All it takes is one success story—a snake plant that’s still holding up after months, a pothos that grows longer and fuller with the right care—for a person to lean into plant parenthood. One plant becomes two, becomes four, and even more. Soon enough you need to figure out a display tactic to keep all your greenery thriving and organized. But the solution is simple: Consider the plant shelf.
Curating your perfect greenery-filled shelf can be as simple as experimenting with your book-to-plant ratio, getting creative with your mix of plants, or sticking with a consistent color palette of pots. Here are nine ideas that will inspire you to figure out the best arrangement for your growing plant collection.
Keep Them With Your Other Essentials
Sarai Reed believes bookshelves should primarily be used for books—but there’s always room for some greenery. She designed her own honeycomb shelving system (sketching it out on the back of a piece of junk mail), which suited her small condo. “I needed a streamlined look, so my books are roughly organized by color and shape, and I added a plant to the empty shelves,” she says.
Find Your Spot
For this shelf, Darryl Cheng of Houseplant Journal selected an arrangement of snake plants, all potted in neutral vessels. But most important is where he put the shelf. “There is a large skylight that provides the bright, indirect light that these plants enjoy,” he says.
“This is the area that receives some of the best light in my home, so I chose to stagger the shelves across the wall to incorporate plants and pots of varying heights,” says designer James Renaud. An extra-tall climbing monstera next to the wall installation completes the jungle effect.
Mix Your Textures
Before adding plants to any space, Lindsey of Fancy Plants Chic first considers how much light it gets—this room receives medium-to-bright indirect light, so pretty much any plant can thrive in it. That made it easier for her to get creative with her plant selection for these floating shelves. “I arranged them with a mixture of varying textures and colors, as well as plants that trail and some that climb upward to fill empty space,” she explains.
Make the Most of Space
Have a lot of plants and not much room to keep them? There’s a simple solution. “Floating shelves are a great way to use wall space,” shares My Peaceful Moment.
Try Something New
“The shelf was originally meant to be merely a way to store books—I had it on the other side of the room, with all the books standing up and all the plants clustered together on one side,” says Noor Hasan. When she decided to move the shelf above her bed so she could put her projector on it, she took her books down in handfuls and topped each stack with a plant as a temporary solution—but she loved the look so much she decided to keep it.
Christopher Griffin’s shelving solution also started unintentionally. “While I was hanging the shelf, it slipped and slid down into that position. It looked great to me, so I decided to keep it that way,” he says.
Consider Your Plants’ Needs
Mish of Planty of Mish originally had a shelf with all-even levels, but replaced it with a String shelf that works better for her greenery: “I can arrange the plants based on how big they are and what their light requirements are—some shelves have grow lights on top,” she says. “Because the shelf is wire, my humidifier is also able to mist the whole area well.”
Stagger Your Greenery
For a more pared-back look, Laura Beeson of Those Positive Plants deliberately staggers her plants. “The string of hearts and string of pearls both look very elegant trailing, and I purposely positioned the philodendron monkey mask at the top of the shelf; as it grows the leaves will gradually trail down the side of the shelf,” she says. A few smaller plants, including cacti and a hoya kerrii, finish the look.
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This story was originally published in August 2020. It has since been updated.