Styling With House Plants

Unless you’ve been living under a bush lately, you must have noticed how houseplants are taking over. Literally. A single spider plant on a shelf, or a lone geranium on the window ledge just doesn’t cut it anymore. It isn’t enough to dot a few green friends round the house and just water them when they need it. Houseplants are big news in the design world! And like all other accessories around the house, the way that you present them is v. important. I kid you not. Now, I may not be the best teacher when it comes to keeping the darned things alive (in fact right at this moment I’m looking at my wilting Peace Lilly with a sinking heart), but I can help with a few tips on how to make yours stand out from the crowd.

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More is More

All from Dobbies Garden Centre

Never more true than when it comes to plants. Even the smallest of specimens is elevated when it has a few buddies around it. They will actually benefit from this kind of grouping too – creating their own little eco system of moist air. It’s important that all of the plants get their share of daylight though, so a corner with two windows is perfect. Under a skylight window would work too. The light coming from above will encourage them to grow taller, straighter and more handsome by the day.

Styling With House Plants

Normann Copenhagen Block Table, £174.25, Houseology. Coy Plant Pot Collection, (small £8.50, large £11.99), Red Candy.

Grouping plants on a trolley, sideboard, or on shelves will also increase their impact. The trolley is actually handy when it comes to watering. Just wheel it over to the sink, instead of dripping the watering-can across the room every time. It’s also easier to move the plants around so that they get an even distribution of daylight.

The Odd Numbers Rule (and the Triangle Rule)

Styling With House Plants - the odd numbers rule

Grey Ombre Pots, (Set of Five), £19.95, Annabel James.

It’s a golden rule of stylists that you use an odd number of accessories. Or in this case plants. The eye for some reason finds it more pleasing as the result appears less studied. And it’s even better if the plants are at different heights. That’s another rule of stylists by the way. Always create a triangle.

Styling With House Plants - the triangle rule

Clay Pot In Metal Hanger, £8, Scaramanga.

A triangle is easily achieved with different height plants, by using plant stands (or furniture) of different heights, or by hanging some from the ceiling. As a general rule, place the tallest and most substantial plant at the back, and slightly off center. Set the middle sized plant in front, but off to the side. Lastly, place the smallest plant in the front. Be sure to overlap them all slightly so that each can be seen but so that they are seen by the eye as a whole.

Mix and Match or Match and Match?

Styling With House Plants - mix plant species and containers

Indoor Botanics, from £10, all Gisela Graham.

You could have a row of soldiers along a shelf. All the same plants in matching pots. Where’s the fun in that? Trust me it will look better if you mix the plant species up a bit. A tall spiky cactus next to a frothy fern. A variegated ivy next to a waxy large leaf Rubber Plant. And that can go for pots too. Mix up the materials your pots are made of but keep to a similar colour scheme for instance. Mix grey pottery and glass (both show off the plants really well). Terracotta and metal (both earthy and natural looking). Or go all out for a whacky mix of vintage and/or quirky containers.

Styling With House Plants

Gillian Arnold Friary Meadow Print, £45,  Athena.

But then again, what’s wrong with a row of soldiers? If you’re shelf is very narrow, why not accentuate that narrowness, and make a virtue of it. Choose identical containers and ring the changes with different shaped succulents.

Continue the Theme

Styling With House Plants

Botanical Fine Art Print, £5, Abstract House.

The botanical theme doesn’t have to stop with the houseplants either. Choose complementary prints to continue the theme, hang botanical printed plates on the walls, or paint the walls in a flattering shade of green.

Styling With House Plants

Breakfast Room Green, Farrow and Ball.


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  1. Reply

    Juan Sandiego

    September 23, 2018

    It’s interesting how they display the bamboo sticks in the last Farrow & Ball image. As you say, they look better in a group!

    • Reply


      September 23, 2018

      From a styling point of view it’s probably about filling the negative space 🙂


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