When it comes to selecting and arranging houseplants for rooms indoors, I use
many of the same guidelines that I follow when I design flower borders and
container gardens for outdoors.
Consider the Growing Requirements
In general, most houseplants do well in bright, indirect light, so be aware of
the room’s light conditions when selecting where to display your plants. If the
room is dimly lit, such as a bathroom or an area with north-facing windows,
choose plants that do well in low light, such as a fern, dracaena, ivy or peace
lily. Check the plant tag when purchasing your houseplants so you’ll know what
light conditions are best for each plant.
Using Houseplants Together
If you are grouping several houseplants together, select those with contrasting
foliage and textures, such as broad and waxy leaves next to fine and feathery
foliage to create more interesting compositions. Place larger plants in the
background of smaller plant groupings. When combining several plants in a
container or basket, use a trailing houseplant, such as ivy (Hedera helix), to
conceal the line of the container and give the arrangement a more finished look.
Choose Houseplants that Complement Your Home
Look for plants with leaves and flowers that complement the colors in your home.
Another consideration is coordinating the type of plant with the style of your
home. Ferns and fan palms are beautiful with Victorian-style décor, whereas
houseplants with striking foliage such as a snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata),
croton and ti plant are great accents with contemporary furnishings. Plants with
simple, gently curving lines work in art nouveau settings. The flamingo flower
(Anthurium) and peace lily (Spathphyllum) are good examples. Furniture made of
bamboo and rattan and Oriental-style shapes work well with exotic hanging plants
such as string of pearls (Senecio royleyanus) or wax plant (Hoya). Traditional
English or French styles seem to go with bushy, vigorously flowering plants like
the cyclamen, gloxinias and begonias. Some plants, such as orchids, work well
with any décor. Once considered exotic and hard to grow, varieties such as Just
Add Ice moth orchids take the guesswork out of caring for these beautiful plants.
Choose Plants that Match the Scale of the Room
When I am working with a large garden area, I use several tall plants as anchors and
then fill in with smaller groupings. The same idea is true indoors–the larger the room,
the bigger and more numerous the plants. A small, single plant on a side table tends to
be overlooked in a large space. Consider using tree-like plants and those with large
leaves such as dracaena, philodendron or a rubber tree. They can quickly fill a room or
entrance hall. Then add other plants, either grouped in containers or arranged together on
a table. In a smaller room, such as a bathroom, bedroom or home office, large plants can
be out of scale and take up too much space. To get the best effect in those areas, choose
mid-size plants with finer foliage or flowering plants to brighten up an area.
As in the garden, there is really no hard and fast rule as to which plants to use. The
best thing to do is choose the plants that appeal to you and see which ones enhance your
style. The greenery and flowers will give your room a lift and help bridge the gap until