A green thumb is a great thing to have, but even something as beautiful as a well grown plant can look like clutter. Whether you own one leafy green friend or 50, purposeful styling is what will make a plant look like décor.
A well-styled plant can even be an asset in your home décor. "Houseplants are a tried-and-true designer must for bringing more life and color to a space," notes Heather Goerzen, design editor at Havenly. "They serve as an organic décor element that’s simultaneously texture-rich, sculptural, and so very lush."
To make your houseplants stand out in your home (in a good way!), check out these expert tips for styling plants to look like purposeful décor.
Meet the Expert
Heather Goerzen is a design editor at Havenly, an online interior decorating and home décor service.
Match Planters to Your Design Style
Just like how you wouldn't pick any random frame to hold a favorite picture, you shouldn't pick any old pot to hold a plant. The planter should first and foremost work with your design style. "Look to your color palette and aesthetic to guide your planter sourcing," suggests Goerzen. "Perhaps a matte black or white gloss look for modern high contrast spaces, engraved brass for luxe homes, a ceramic stand with wooden peg legs for more midcentury designs, woven materials for the Cali Cool room," she elaborates.
There a plenty of stylish planters available to buy, or you can DIY your own.
Use the Golden Ratio for Planter Size
Besides the style of the planter, you'll want to pick one that's the right size for both the plant and its roots, and also the space. "You want to ensure it’s the proper size for your vignette, and typically lean into the Golden Ratio with the plant being either a third, or two-thirds, the size of the planter (rather than the exact same size)," advises Goerzen. So for a snake plant that's 18 inches tall, you'll want a planter that's 6 or 12 inches tall.
Style is important, but there's no plant less stylish than one that died from root rot. So, when you want to use a planter that works with the Golden Ratio but is too big of a container for the plant, put the plant in a cache pot and set it inside the preferred planter on top of a drip tray and some floral foam or another block of material you wouldn't mind getting water or soil on.
The placement of plants is often dictated by where light shines in a room, which can lead to collections of plants gathered in specific spots. But no matter where plants are gathered, you can make them look good by creating a vignette. "Consider grouping plants in two or three pots and varieties of various sizes," suggests Goerzen. "Nestle them on top of furniture like tables and stools for added height and sculptural contrast."
One solo plant can be part of a vignette as well. "You can always lean into one massive statement tree to really dominate an area, and let it intentionally fly solo," says Goerzen. If you do go with one statement plant, don't put it completely in the corner, she advises. Set it just off wall to make it feel purposeful and artful.
Think of Houseplants as Sculptural Accents
Houseplants aren't just for people with green thumbs. "Treat a plant like you would any form of sculptural décor," says Goerzen. "An olive tree is going to add a timeless, graceful element, often in line with that pacific natural or new Mediterranean aesthetic, whereas fiddle leaf figs are long-time designer fan faves for more boho [style] and midcentury-modern homes. Snake plants lean more tailored and modern, while lush monstera or trailing pothos bring a more wild, organic feel to any space."
Before you order a plant that matches your aesthetic, make sure your home can accommodate its light and humidity needs. You should also decide if you're able to meet its water, fertilizer, pruning, and repotting needs.