How to decorate with plants: 7 stunning ideas for indoor gardens

It’s no longer enough to have a few houseplants dotted in and amongst your decor. Instead group them together for maximum impact by creating a striking indoor garden. Here's how

09 September 2018 - 00:00 By Mandy Allen/Bureaux
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

1. THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT

IDEA: Dark walls, a monochrome palette and the absence of frivolous decoration have been selectively chosen to allow the greenery to make a statement in this space.

A mid-century modern coffee table and graphic rug pay homage to retro style, though the prevailing mood is clean and contemporary.

NOTES: Prominent in this arrangement of plants are a variety of philodendrons.

"There are so many variations and shapes of philodendron available and they are very low maintenance," says Cape Town-based botanical artist and floral stylist Janine Vermeulen (pictured) of Foraged.

She notes popular houseplant varieties include the split-leaf philodendron (delicious monster) and heart leaf (sweetheart philodendron).

PLANTS PICTURED: bamboo palm, button ferns, delicious monster, magnolia tree, mother-in-law's tongue, silver leaf ferns, star jasmine, tree fern, silver lace fern.

Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

2. WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

IDEA: Your first clue that this is a home where nature has been given free reign? An entrance given over to a profusion of leafy houseplants.

The considerable quantity of plants evokes the atmosphere of a Victorian botanist’s foyer; a living cabinet of curiosities that is an antidote to the harsh concrete jungle outside.

NOTES:

  • The predominance of clean lines and black, white and natural wood creates a serene atmosphere.
  • Interest has been created by the textures and scale of the varying plants, some of which have beautifully patterned leaves.
  • The sizes of the plants and pots is also varied and these have been interspersed with hanging plants, a philodendron in a modern plant stand and a fern in a black woven basket – all of which creates a captivating installation. 

PLANTS PICTURED: air plant (hanging on hook of coat rail), asparagus fern, bird’s nest fern, button ferns, delicious monster, mother-in-law tongue, peace lily, philodendron (in plant stand), spider fern and tree fern. 

Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

3. TURN OVER A NEW LEAF

IDEA: The joy of plants lies in their extraordinary shades of green and graphic forms. Celebrate this natural beauty by fashioning an installation of hanging and potted specimens as well as terrariums with a geometric modernity. 

NOTES: That 70s interiors staple, macramé, has regained its popularity since the revival of the houseplant but in new and contemporary forms. 

PLANTS PICTURED: In macramé hanging planters: asparagus fern, bird’s nest fern; In terrariums: wild olive bonsai trees and moss. Other plants: bamboo palm, heartleaf philodendron and mother-in-law’s tongue.

Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

4. FORESTRY DIVISION

IDEA: Embrace the earthy delights of a woodland biosphere and create a sitting niche encircled by tall indoor trees with large, waxy leaves, wispy ferns displayed in hairpin-leg pot stands set at varying levels and hanging houseplants with tendrils that playfully trail downwards. 

NOTES: 

  • Tall indoor plants can be used to designate a specific zone in an open-plan space, effectively doing the job of a screen without sacrificing the interior flow or natural light.
  • This reworking of the retro look gets its modernity from leaner lines (the hairpin-leg pot stands), a masculine edge in the form of the mid-century chair and a wink to Scandi chic with a sheepskin area rug.
  • Create a super-natural layered effect with plants displayed at varying heights – just as they would grow in the garden.
  • This corner has an abundance of natural light but this selection of plants, given the right care, will also do well in lower light settings. 

PLANTS PICTURED: asparagus fern, bird’s nest fern, button fern, ficus lyrata (Fiddle-Leaf) tree, philodendron and star jasmine.

Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

5. NATURAL SELECTION

IDEA: A beautiful bay window is transformed into a leafy, inviting wonderland by an abundance of houseplants. In this context, the plants help to enhance a sense of privacy in a densely populated urban setting.

NOTES: The windows afford the plant collection with growth-enhancing light, while the plants help to moderate the room’s temperature – natural air conditioning for eco-aware homeowners.

PLANTS PICTURED: bamboo palm, button fern, delicious monster, ficus millennium, heartleaf philodendron (in macramé), star jasmine, delicious monsters and silver lace fern. 

Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

6. SUSTAINABLE COEXISTENCE

IDEA: Verdant houseplants make a high-impact addition to a collection of antique sewing machines; the eye-catching installation made all the more interesting by the juxtaposition of industrial objects designed for creating precision with the tangled, wildly flourishing greenery.

NOTES: 

  • Pots have been painted black and no other colours (other than natural wood) introduced so as to allow the setting to feel dramatic without being overwhelming.
  • Trailing indoor plants that spill out of their pots look wonderfully wild and whimsical. Common vines and climbing indoor plants include heartleaf philodendron, devil’s ivy, betel, star jasmine, creeping fig, arrowhead plant, and wandering Jew

PLANTS PICTURED: asparagus ferns, button ferns and philodendron.

Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

7. HANGING GARDEN

IDEA: Windowsills, floating shelves and tabletops are familiar places to show off houseplants, but why not elevate your displays into living installations by opting for unusual containers and surfaces.

An old painted kitchen drawer, mounted on the wall, has been planted with a creative composition of leafy flora that has a striking gradient colour effect.

NOTES: 

Ferns (both of the delicate and big-leaf variety), air plants and cascading plants such as Philodendron, Chain Of Hearts, Devil’s Ivy and Spider Plants are well-suited to vertical growing.

PLANTS PICTURED: bird’s nest fern, button fern, maidenhair fern and silver lace fern. 


DIY: HOW TO MAKE A VERTICAL GARDEN

Display plants vertically in a wooden box, old drawer or hexagon or triangular shadow boxes and mount on the wall as a solo display or as part of your gallery wall.

To turn your chosen display box into a vertical garden:

  • Carefully remove the plant from its plastic pot and set it aside on some newspaper.
  • Make sure the plastic pot fits into your chosen display box and, if using more than one plant, mark out your desired arrangement.
  • Remove the pots and drill small holes, two for each pot (more depending on the size and weight), making sure to align the holes in the box with those in the base of the plastic pots.
  • Use gardener’s wire or cable ties to secure the pot/s to the box, then carefully replace the plants and hang up your creation.
  • To water, use a spray bottle.

Indoor plants will benefit from a monthly boost of indoor plant food.
Indoor plants will benefit from a monthly boost of indoor plant food.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

HOUSEPLANT WISHLIST

Typically well suited to indoor conditions, the following plants will thrive with the right care:

  • Air plants
  • Asparagus Fern
  • Arrowhead Plant
  • Bamboo Palm
  • Betel Leaf Plant
  • Bird's Nest Fern
  • Bromeliad
  • Button Fern
  • Calathea
  • Creeping Fig
  • Delicious Monster
  • Devil's Ivy
  • Ficus or Fiddle-leaf Fig
  • Heartleaf Philodendron
  • Leather Fern
  • Maidenhair Fern
  • Mother-In-Law's Tongue (also known as the dieffenbachia plant or dumb cane)
  • Peace Lily
  • Silver Lace Fern
  • Spider Plant
  • Star Jasmine
  • Sweet Viburnum
  • Tree Fern
  • Wandering Jew (also known as the Inch plant) 

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