Decorating With Plants

Learn how a beginning gardener can look like a pro.

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When grouping plants, place them at different heights for a more interesting, pleasing look. A brick was used in this rustic arrangement to elevate one of the pots.

Plants make beautiful additions to any room’s decor. Interior decorator Cynthia Brian, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, shares tips and ideas for making pleasing arrangements for any room in the house.

A single white polka dot plant is surrounded by pink polka dot plants for a dramatic color grouping in a single container.
For a whimsical arrangement, try grouping African violets in a child’s red wagon and garnish with a stuffed animal.
Blooming plants, like azalea and cyclamen, or plants with colorful foliage like caladium, make perfect centerpieces.

  • Know what your style of decor is before selecting plants. For example, modern, contemporary styles look best with sleek, clean-lined plants that have long, slender shapes; frilly, feminine ferns work well with Victorian decor; and cacti are the perfect complement for Southwest style.
  • If you want to group a number of plants together for added impact, be sure you select plants that have similar light and water requirements for the arrangement.
  • Groups of plants look best when their heights are varied. Bricks covered with fabric provide an easy-to-make platform for pots.

  • Group a number of plants in a single container for drama. Any large container, like a basket or trunk, will work. Remember, it's best to use plants with similar light and water needs. Try using plants from the same family. For example, group different ferns together, or use the same plant with different color variations. First, raise the bottom of a deep container with folded fabric so the plants will be more visible. Line the container with heavy plastic, like a garbage bag. (Even with the lining, however, you will probably want to remove your plants to water them at the sink.) Arrange plants, still in their pots, in the container, using strong color groupings.

  • For a centerpiece, use plants with colorful foliage or blooms. If you group several in a container, cover the pots with sphagnum moss or Spanish moss for a finished look.
  • Balance and scale are important when placing plants in a room. With a long narrow room, you wouldn’t want to use 4-inch plants on one end. Instead, place a large upright plant at each end of the room.

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