Arranging Your Houseplants

Arranging Your Houseplants

Staging Indoor Plants

At this time of year we have a renewed focus on our houseplants. Many have brought their plants back indoors after growing them outside over the summer. Even those plants that remained inside draw our attention as we go into the season when we’re spending more time in our homes. In fact, plants do so much to help keep our spirits up as the days grow shorter and winter is near. This is the ideal time to think about rearranging your existing plants and adding to your indoor gardens with new plants and ways to display them. Just as it’s fun to periodically rearrange your furniture, it can also be enjoyable to make new arrangements of your plants.

Designing With Houseplants

Making an appealing display of indoor greenery is very similar to designing a garden or landscape. You begin by providing the plants with the conditions that will help them to thrive. You might want to see a particular plant in the darkest corner of your living room, for example, but if there isn’t enough light in that location you should use something else. But beyond giving plants the growing conditions they prefer, there are many ways to create appealing combinations of houseplants.

Contrasting Foliage Colors and Textures

When designing exterior landscapes and indoor plantscapes, we start with contrasting foliage colors and textures. Since flowers come and go, having a variety of leaf colors and shapes means that your garden or houseplant display will always be appealing. For example, if you place a variegated plant next to one with green leaves, and put a variety with tiny leaves in between two plants with big foliage, all the plants are shown to best advantage.

Here is a group of plants in an eastern facing location. Notice how the golden philodendron leaves contrast well with the rattlesnake calathea in the foreground, and the purplish begonia next to it. The two plants with green leaves, the Anthurium that’s in flower, and the citrus tree on the right, are separated. And by the way, if you want a houseplant that flowers continuously, get an Anthurium. The one you see here has been in constant bloom for three years, staying in this location year-round.

Color Repetition

Just as contrast is important in a houseplant display, repetition also contributes to good design. Use color echoing in the same way you do with your furniture and accessories, by repeating the same shade in several places. This can be done with colors of foliage, flowers or the items you add in with your plants. And don’t stop with plant-related items…you might add a teapot, colorful bowl or other item that seldom makes it out of the cupboard or closet.

Repeat colors in a houseplant display – a purple pot with plants that have purple flowers. Add items that coordinate with your colors. Gazing balls are as fun in the house as they are outdoors, and this purple one echos the African violet and orchid flowers. Another repetition in this arrangement is using three of the whimsical critter pots that hold the air plants. It’s a display that is designed to make you smile while showing off the plants to the best advantage.

Use Pot Color to Your Advantage

Some love to display their houseplants in pots that are all the same color, while others choose a variety of patterns and colors. Often, however, people have left their plants in a container for years without thinking that the pot itself can add so much to your houseplant staging. This is a fine time of year to repot indoor plants, giving them fresh soil and a bit more root room while providing a different or updated look to your display.

Unify your display of plants by using pots made of similar materials or in the same color. Here the inexpensive terracotta pots in gray/taupe were used to hold the plants and display them at different heights. Turn pots upside down to make them into a stand. Use a bench that is normally put outside to hold a houseplant collection by a window.
This group of succulents are all fairly similar in size and shape, so different colors of pots were used to add more interest. If your plants are in plastic pots, those can be placed in a clay pot and switched out as you wish. Just be sure that all pots have drainage holes so that the roots don’t stay too wet. This rainy day was also brightened by stringing up fairy lights for added cheer, and the gazing ball provides a contrasting shiny element to the display.

Repurpose, Upcycle, and Display Creatively

You don’t have to put plants on a table or windowsill…you can place them on a benches, stools, chairs, plant stands, other pots or whatever you have on hand. Getting creative also allows you to place plants at assorted levels. This creates an interesting arrangement and allows for more plants in the same window without crowding.

Here, a plastic planter box is turned upside down for the base and piece of a wooden packing crate is used for the table top. A large stool holds a pot above the others, while a small, decorative stool repeats that element. The tall plastic container on the right normally holds plants outside, but it can also be used indoors to display a houseplant. (You might bring in tall pots or urns and put a large ceramic saucer on the top for a pedestal that displays plants.) White pots keep plants as the star of the show. This grouping uses tropical plants for an exotic look, and the pink/red tones in flowers and foliage add color.

Cluster Houseplants In A Trough or Birdbath

Grouping plants together allows you to create a more humid environment for your plants. This is especially beneficial for ferns, which love high humidity. Whether you’re using a trough, birdbath or a large plastic tray filled with pebbles, such displays help the plants and catch the water that flows out the drainage holes as well.

Metal troughs with “agricultural style” work well in contemporary interiors. They group plants together in a display and can hold saucers of pebbles underneath if you want to increase humidity around the plants. You might also use a birdbath in a similar manner. Test any such tray for water-tightness so you’ll be sure there are no leaks onto your floors. If you need to, you can put a plastic liner or tray in the container of your choice so that it holds water that drains out of the pots.

Use the creation of a new houseplant display as a time to clean up plants that you’ve had for a long time. Wipe off dusty leaves, clip off dead stems and foliage even if you aren’t repotting the plant. Adding a couple of tablespoons of earth worm castings to the top of the pots can help add to the health of the soil at this time of year when most indoor plants aren’t being fertilized. And finally, remember to turn plants frequently so that they don’t grow one-sided. Some people give a plant a quarter turn every week when they water, others rotate houseplants 180° once a month, while plant lovers such as myself do it whenever it occurs to them that it’s needed. Whatever your method of houseplant care and display, the important thing is to have fun with it! Let us know how we can help.

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