Decorating with Plants

Without a doubt, houseplants are having a moment

Without a doubt, houseplants are having a moment. From major retail collabs with plant wizards such as Hilton Carter or local Facebook listings with propagated plants for sale, they’re everywhere lately. Interior design is no exception to this trend and proves that you can integrate plants in some unexpected but accessible ways.

Here are the best tips we gathered to get you started from local experts Emily McGowan, Owner and Lead Designer for Elm Home Design, and Tera Janelle of Tera Janelle Design.

Why Try It?

Yes, it’s a trend right now, but plants are timeless, says McGowan, “Plants in a home add so much warmth…[and they] add interest and texture without making it look too cluttered.”

For Janelle, bringing the outdoors in is part of her routine. “Each year when spring arrives, we pick up ferns and set them in large planters around the house, both indoors and out,” she says. “They can be a bit messy, but they always bring a sense of breezy spring and summer to the house.”

In the cooler months, Janelle adds “dry, decorative grasses to the bar cart for some seasonal coziness.”

Where To Start
“The best advice I could give is to start simple and small,” says McGowan.

When choosing new plants, she always speaks with the horticulturist: “I explain what I’d like the plant to look like, how large I want the plant to get, and how much time or energy I want to put into it, etc.” These questions can help guide you to the right selections.

McGowan says while “Google is your friend” for immediate questions, purchasing from “local nurseries is your best bet; they will always have a wealth of knowledge.”

Ultimately, McGowan recommends choosing a plant because you “love the shape and look of it.”

Where to Place Them
McGowan loves a classic vignette when staging a room with plants. Start with a coffee or side table and “stack two to three books and with a small potted plant on top of them,” she says; or “place a pretty, potted plant on open shelving, countertops, entry tables, etc.; plants literally will work anywhere!”

For Janelle, she prefers specific plants in certain spaces. “Potted orchids are one of my absolute favorite potted plants,” she says. “They can last a month or longer and can be found affordable at the grocery store; I love them on a bathroom vanity or in a shower, and they thrive in the humidity.” Hanging plants can also do well in smaller spaces such as bathrooms; both pothos and hoya plants fill out nicely and are resilient.

In a kitchen, Janelle will add potted herbs—great for cooking, while also “lending a casual English feel” to the space. McGowan loves small potted plants by the sink. For the island, “a collection of oversized branches is one of my favorites,” Janelle says. “Butterfly bush branches, Japanese maple, forsythia, magnolia, and even ‘scrub trees’ are a few easy-to-find favorites.”

Finally, don’t neglect even the most mundane spaces in your home such as your pantry and laundry room. “Blooms feel casual and inviting,” says Janelle, “And they bring a dose of fresh air to the workhorse rooms of the house.”

Keep in mind the general aesthetic you want for your home when choosing how to display your plants. Take a small maidenhair fern—for a classic, traditional feel, you can nest it inside of a bust (a popular choice right now) or, for a more down-to-earth approach, select a simple terra cotta pot (these patina over time for some added charm).

Both McGowan and Janelle recommend baskets to house larger plants. “I love [fiddle leaf figs] set in affordable baskets, with plastic planter liners tucked inside,” says Janelle. Situate these larger plants (say monstera, snake, or rubber plants) near a fireplace, in a corner, or, says McGowan, next to a console table.

Janelle recommends always keeping several clear vases of different shapes and sizes on hand; “I’ve purchased these everywhere from Walmart to Goodwill to Pottery Barn,” she says. “They are super versatile and great for gifting cuttings from your yard and garden.”

For something unique, think outside the box. With the proper lining, pitchers, distinctive mugs, and baskets can all be repurposed to house a plant.

The Importance of Patience
My grandfather has cared for hundreds of houseplants throughout his lifetime; his best care tip: “Be patient; things take time.”

McGowan echoes this wisdom, saying, “It’s a commitment to have some plants, and you have to be willing to take the time to care for them. In the long run, it’s worth it to have that greenery in my spaces.”


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