Plants as decor: 11 ideas for indoor plant displays

Plants are a wonderful way to bring life and vitality to interiors. Nothing brightens up a room like lush greenery, and the positive impact plants have on our health and wellbeing is well documented.  

With so many indoor plants to choose from, from dainty string of pearls to large bird of paradise plants and indoor trees like figs and citrus, the possibilities for decorating with plants are limitless.  

There is a house plant for every room and situation, whether you want to liven up the kitchen or bring calm to the bedroom, so before you start decorating, make sure you're familiar with the best indoor plants.  

We've gathered a variety of botanical home decor ideas, as well as some expert tips, to help inspire your plant choices and how to arrange them.

The Advantages of Plant-Based Decorating

Plants have become increasingly popular as we seek to reconnect with nature and bring its soul-nourishing, calming influence into our homes.  

Indoor plants, which come in a variety of shapes, forms, colors, and textures ranging from large leafy palms to small shapely cacti, not to mention flowering varieties, make versatile decorating ideas and are used by interior designers as living forms of art.

'Plants have a sculptural quality, they are constantly changing and have such intricate details, and they complement every type of decor style,' says Eli Manekin, founder of Loop Living, a house plant store. (Opens in a new window) 'They are unlike any other design element, and they bring out the best in every interior.' In a nutshell, they demand attention, which I believe great art does. ' 

Plants are useful in all rooms of the house; for example, bathroom plants can significantly improve this often overlooked room.

House plant in a woven basket

(Photo by Future / Brent Darby)

Plants are not only beautiful and fragrant, but they also provide numerous health benefits. Plants not only help to purify the air, but the activity of indoor gardening can be extremely mindful, and carefully placed Feng Shui plants are said to increase the flow of positive energy around your home.

However, before you rush to fill your home with house plants, consider their care requirements first. Different plants have different habits, so choose plants that are appropriate for the area you are decorating and place them in locations where they will thrive.

Alternatively, those who aren't green-fingered can decorate with flowers, and there are plenty of artificial plants available for an everlasting display.

1. Decorate your shelves with house plants.

House plants in Lucy Hammond Giles' home

(Photo by Future / James Merrell)

Plants are a must-have for many interior designers and stylists when it comes to decorating shelves.  

'Plants, especially those that trail, will add softness and freshness to any shelf,' says Simon Temprell, interior design manager at Neptune. (Opens in a new window) 'Because succulents have architectural style and require little attention, they can be useful for filling gaps where objects feel a little too rigid. '

This abundant display of cascading ferns, spider plants, and potted pelargoniums creates the illusion of an indoor jungle in this family living space.

2. Make the partition shelving softer.

Shelves decorated with plants

(Photo by Future / Mary Wadsworth)

A variety of indoor plants can add the finishing touch to a room divider in an open-plan living room.

Plants with sculptural, organic forms are a fantastic antidote to the strong architectural lines of contemporary partition shelves, as well as providing pops of vibrant color.  

These shelves help subtly zone this living and dining space while maintaining a light and airy feel throughout by being styled with a mix of plant species placed at different heights (from top: Devil's Ivy, Snake plant, and Philodendron).

3. More is better

Kitchen with white cabinetry, large island with bar stools, white walls and tile floor

(Image courtesy of deVOL)

When it comes to decorating with plants, Helen Parker, creative director at Devol, says that abundance is the key to a successful botanical theme. (Opens in a new window) Think creatively about how you can use shelves, windowsills, and even hanging from the ceiling to create an immersive and magical atmosphere.  

'Placing a few plants on your windowsill isn't enough; they need to become a part of the room,' she says.

'Abundance is important; the more you devote to the botanical theme, the more impressive it appears; walking into a foliage-filled room is uplifting,' Parker adds. 'It is high maintenance, but it is well worth the effort when they thrive and your room is constantly changing with new growth.' '

4. Arrange plants at various heights.

Loop Living plants in a living room

(Photo courtesy of Loop Living)

Plant layering is a lovely way to add life and interest to a white living room. For an indoor jungle feel, display a variety of forms and shapes at different heights, either raised on stands or hung as part of a gallery wall.

Plants with variegated leaves and pink strokes make excellent decor elements due to their dramatic contrasts. 'They literally look like they were created by an artist,' says Eli Manekin.

'I always recommend potting in white planters with simple shapes that do not compete with your plant.' '

5. Use indoor trees to create a focal point.

Indoor tree in a dining room

(Photo by Future / Paul Raeside)

If the indoor jungle look is too much for you, a few strategically placed plants can elevate a space. According to the experts, when it comes to decorating with plants, homeowners are increasingly looking for large statement plants to create a focal point.

'We are seeing a trend for people to use house plants as an integral design element, treating plants as they would furniture or art pieces,' says Hollie Newton, chief creative officer of Sproutland. (Opens in a new window) 'Using plants as part of an architectural design scheme can instantly transform any space.' '

Try the banana tree, elephant's ear, pygmy date palm, or indoor trees like citrus or fig trees to make a statement. This weeping fig tree makes the most of the high ceilings in this Georgian dining room, drawing the eye upwards to the beautiful architectural coving.  

Plants should be placed on the windowsill.

houseplants on a living room windowsill from

(Image courtesy of Leaf Envy)

The windowsill is ideal for displaying light-loving house plants. However, when it comes to how to care for house plants in winter, keep in mind that while they will appreciate the light, some may be damaged by drafts and temperature fluctuations.  

'Be wary of extremes, such as moving air vents, fireplaces, or proximity to exterior doors.' Plants thrive in a consistent environment; position plants away from areas that fluctuate frequently if possible,' advises Emily Wight, co-founder of indoor plant store Foli. (Opens in a new window)

7. Place plants all around the bed.

Parquet wood flooring in a bedroom

(Photo by Paul Raeside)

Bedrooms, as places of recuperation and relaxation, are ideal for embracing biophillic design - the practice of utilizing nature to bring harmony. You can help create a healthy sleeping environment by placing the best air cleaning plants near your bed.  

'Your bed is likely to be the focal point of your bedroom and can be easily refreshed by surrounding it with air purifying plants, which will help encourage relaxation and a good night's sleep,' says Beth Chapman, founder of Leaf Envy. (Opens in a new window)

'Clustering plants near your bed will not only create a beautiful display, but they will also eliminate airborne toxins from your room.' Mix medium-sized plants, such as Calathea Orbifolia, with large plants with arching fronds, such as Kentia Palm. '

8. Create a bathroom retreat

Plants in a cottage bathroom

(Photo by Future / Brent Darby)

Bathrooms are often overlooked when it comes to decorating with plants, but as humid environments, they are ideal for many indoor plants and will help bring a magical, spa-like feel to the space.

'When choosing which plants to add to your bathroom, consider the lighting to ensure it is suitable for your plants to thrive in,' says Leaf Envy's Beth Chapman. 'Dedicate windowsills to plants that require extra lighting, and for bathrooms with low lighting, choose plants that thrive in humidity, such as the Boston Fern. '

9. Consider the container

Small kitchen color

(Image courtesy of deVOL)

When arranging indoor plants, consider the pot or container they are displayed in and select a vessel that complements your decor. Terracotta pots will add rustic charm to farmhouse kitchens, while a woven basket will add texture to a Scandinavian living room.

'I find that planting plants in old terracotta pots and vintage garden urns gives them a more special and cohesive feel,' says Helen Parker of Devol.

Whatever container or pot you choose, make sure it has good drainage - leaving house plants in standing water is a recipe for disaster.

10. Arrange plants on a table

Plants arranged on a side table

(Photo by Future / Carolyn Barber)

Clustering plants together is a lovely way to create a decorative focal point, whether as part of your entry table decor ideas or displayed on a table by a window. Choose a variety of different leaf shapes and forms, and stagger the heights, placing the tallest at the back and small pots in front for the best results.  

11. Brighten up a nook

Greenery in a dark dining room

(Photo by Kitesgrove)

It can be difficult to know what to do with an empty living room corner, but adding a large houseplant will instantly give the space purpose and brightness.  

'Incorporating plants and greenery into a space makes it feel more layered and welcoming by adding natural texture, organic shapes, and a pop of color,' says Katie Lion, senior interior designer at Kitesgrove. (Opens in a new window)  

'In this case, we've placed a fig tree in the corner of the room to visually soften the space and enrich the green tones in the room palette.' Plants bring a sense of calm and wellbeing to a space, bringing the outdoors in for a balanced interior that you want to spend time in. '

How do you use plants to decorate a room?

Plants can be used in a variety of ways to decorate a room. Layer plants of various shapes and textures - from trailing varieties to large leafy palms - and display them at various heights to create an immersive, indoor jungle feel. Alternatively, choose a few statement plants to serve as focal points in a room.  

Plants are an excellent tool for softening living spaces, especially those with sharp angles and architectural features, and they look especially effective when incorporated into bookshelf ideas or grouped as part of your mantel decor ideas. 'Keep in mind that plants and greenery will add life to your shelving, so include them to bring a sense of the outdoors in and help ground the space,' says Emma Deterding, founder and creative director of Kelling Designs. (Opens in a new window)

However, before you decorate a room with plants, consider the environmental needs of your houseplants: do they require a lot of direct sunlight? Alternatively, you may prefer to go somewhere dark and cool. 'Amara co-founder and chief creative officer Sam Hood says (Opens in a new window)  

'If all of this extra care seems like too much effort, faux plants or dried stems like pampas grass and eucalyptus look just as natural and can be housed in stylish vases and planters. '

Bathroom with marble countertop and house plant

(Photo by Future / Paul Raeside)

How should I arrange plants in my living room?

Plants can be incorporated into your living room in a variety of ways, from incorporating them into your living room shelving to hanging them as wall decor.  

'Mixing different sizes, styles, and textures of pots in complementary colors is a sure way to create an individual style and identity to your home space,' says Leaf Envy founder Beth Chapman.  

'Three-person groups work well in varying heights.' If you prefer a more minimalist look, place a favorite plant cutting as a feature in a propagation container and enjoy watching it grow. '

House plants

(Photo by Future/Paul Raeside)

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