How to Decorate with Indoor Plants to Add Fresh Energy to Your Space

Take advantage of all the benefits of houseplants and make them a central part of your decor.

Decorating with indoor plants has numerous benefits; they produce extra oxygen through photosynthesis, help reduce stress, and can even increase your productivity if you include them on your desk or in your home office. You can start small, with just one or two houseplants on side tables, or you can go all out and create your own garden room filled with dozens of different plants. No matter how you decide to do it, decorating with houseplants helps bring the freshness of the outdoors in, and gives you a mini garden you can tend to all year round.

various houseplants
Jacob Fox

How to Decorate with Houseplants

When decorating with houseplants, there are some things to keep in mind. It's not just how they look in the room, you have to consider the plants' care and living conditions. For example, some plants will tolerate low light and thrive in tricky areas like your bathroom, while others need a spot by the window to grow. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you bring more plants home:

Arrange in Odd Numbers

When you can, group plants in an odd number. Using an even number can look too symmetrical, causing the arrangement look more formal. Odd numbers give a more casual look.

Choose Different Sizes

Group plants together in different widths and heights. The differences in size give a more organic look than plants in the same size, which just looks uniform.

Think About Leaf Shapes

Choose plants with different shapes and growth types. For example, place a squat, trailing plant (pothos), a fountainlike plant (dracaena), and a tall plant with upward leaves (fiddle-leaf fig tree) together for an arrangement that engenders interest and harmony.

Include Plants With Colorful Leaves

Pay attention to the colors of the plants you choose. For a cohesive look, put plants together that have leaves of the same color. For more variety, go for plants with foliage in different colors.

Use Plenty of Decorative Pots

As with plant colors, choosing pots can go one of two ways, based on personal preference. You can use pots with similar finishes and colors to make the arrangement look like a set. Or you can combine all your favorite pots in different materials and colors for an eclectic finish.

Don't Forget Houseplant Care

When grouping houseplants, also consider their needs and condition preferences. For example, group plants that need humidity, such as ferns, closely with other plants that have the same needs to create a pocket of moisture. Also, take temperature and light needs into account—placing a shade-loving and a sun-loving plant in the same area of the home will make it hard for one (or both) to survive.

Blaine Moats

Indoor Plant Drainage Tips

It's easy to fall into the trap of putting a houseplant into any attractive pot, but thinking about water drainage is very important for plant health. Some pots don't have a drainage hole in the bottom, which can leave your plants sitting in water. Other pots that do have drainage holes allow out too much water, which can leak onto your tables and floor. Luckily, there are many solutions to drainage issues that can make houseplant care a lot simpler.

If water is running right out of your pot, there's a simple solution to making it drain more slowly. Place a rock or shard of a broken pot over the drainage hole before planting. This won't block the hole completely, but will slow the water flow, allowing the plant to soak up what it needs.

Some pots are made with a saucer you can place under the planter to catch draining water. If you see water filling the saucer after watering, walk away from the plant for 10 minutes or so, then return and dump out the remaining water. This gives the soil a chance to get the amount of water it needs to stay moist.

Try using a plastic pot saucer and pebbles to create a humid base for a houseplant that craves moisture. Fill the bottom of the saucer with a layer of pebbles, then add about a half an inch of water. This keeps the pot from sitting in water, but makes moisture accessible, providing extra humidity.

If you feel like your plant is not retaining the moisture it needs, try surrounding the crown of the plant with moss. A dense layer of moss can hold moisture toward the top of the plant, making up for soil that just won't hold enough water.

rootbound aloe plant outside of pot
Kindra Clineff

How to Repot Plants That Are Declining

Pay special attention to your houseplants and how their appearance changes. If they are too dry or too wet, the leaves will turn dry and brown or will start to yellow. One big sign of pests, like spider mites, is stickiness on the plant. If you notice a layer of sap on top of the leaves, determine whether a good rinse in a shower or under a hose can get rid of pests, or whether it's best to toss the plant to save the surrounding plants from infection. If the dirt level in the pot is rising, and you haven't added extra soil, the plant may be getting root-bound (meaning that the roots have taken up all the available space in the pot and might be forming a dense, coiled knot around the soil). No matter what issue your houseplant is facing, repotting is an opportunity to revive it.

The first step to repotting your houseplant is determining its new container. Preferably, you'll want one larger than the one it's been living in. Also, ensure that the pot you've chosen has good drainage. Add potting soil into the pot, filling it about a third of the way up, then place the plant in. Bury the remainder of the plant's roots with soil and press the soil in to give the plant a sturdy base. Trim off any dead leaves or branches. Then, give the plant a good watering and put it in a place that has the light and humidity it needs so it can go back to brightening your day.

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