Houseplants as Design Elements

Houseplants as Design Elements

Whether a colourful bouquet of flowers on a table, a small pot of herbs in a window, or a large container on the balcony, plants can provide a low cost means to brighten your home and make it feel like your own.

Before getting started, there are a couple important factors when determining which houseplants to buy.  The first, and probably most important, is your own commitment.  If you are a neophyte and concerned that your lack of knowledge will end with half-dead plants strewn throughout your house, then you should start slowly and take small, manageable steps.  You can always buy more as your confidence grows and you come to appreciate the natural beauty and sense of place houseplants provide.  If you like the idea of plants around your place but are busy working, choose plants like ferns or cacti that need little water or care will be your answer. 

Indoor garden

Indoor Garden Styling

Equally important is your location.  India has multiple planting zones and putting the wrong plant in the wrong zone will probably not end very well for the plant or your confidence.  A few quick questions to ask are:  Will these plants be near a window?  How much direct light will they get in daily?  It is important to know which plants grow best in your area.    Your local nursery professional can offer guidance. 

Indoor plants allow for an easy way to provide interest to an otherwise bland location.  A small container of lavender in a wicker basket transforms an empty table into an oasis of colour and fragrance. 

Besides the plants themselves, containers also make statements.  Containers of all sizes provide visual interplay against other textures and materials in your home. Ivy growing against a wooden windowsill provides visual contrast between wood grain and metal and plant matter.  Also, a colourfully painted clay pot against a pale wall will offer the eye a subtle, yet captivating surprise.

If you are looking for a sophisticated look or prefer orderly, monochromatic displays, matching containers with spiky plants like Aloe Vera on a shelf or windowsill will provide a dramatic effect but speaks to control.   

While all areas of the house can benefit from the visual surprise of live plant matter in a confined location, there are three places where houseplants can be valuable design elements.

In the kitchen, houseplants offer colourful interplay between the plant, container, and linens can create a classic or whimsical look with little effort. 

Garden Design

Re-purposing kitchen items like teapots or cups give your kitchen a whimsical theme.  Adding a bit of potting soil to them and a coriander transplant, you will have the start of a kitchen herb garden.   Besides coriander, herbs, like Indian basil, make a nice addition and grow nicely near the window.  They also are used to provide a burst of fresh flavour to your meals.   

Vined plants, like English Ivy, or small flowering plants are not spiky, can be placed on an open shelf and provide another a layer of texture that could be seen as a surprise among dishes or pots. 

In the living room, the largest blank canvas you have and a chance to bring living elements that will make a statement.

Large windows and empty corners can be quickly be transformed into interesting visual elements.  A plant like Anthuriums, with their red flowers, would be perfect in a corner near a window. 

Visual interest brightens the room and fills the empty space.  With the addition of even a single plant, you live in a home and are just not inhabiting a space.

Areca Palm is an easy-care plant and its sweeping fronds offer a sharp contrast to a room that is filled with rectangular furniture. 

If you’re tight on space, hanging pots are an easy, interesting addition to any indoor living space.  This element will catch the eye by surprise – a hanger and splash of green from the ceiling.  There are plenty of low maintenance plants that will surprise your next visitor. 

Ferns as a design element

A Peperomia Hanging Plant or the Dracena Hanging Plant would be perfect for areas that do not receive full sun. 

If you’re fortunate enough to have a balcony or patio, you can easily create an outdoor room. 

This will increase livable space and intimacy with a few larger plants to serve as a natural barrier to your neighbour.  When considering how to create this space, you should think about portability because large planters can be quite heavy.  If you see moving or like reshuffling your plants, you might want to put the largest planters on casters or have a planter caddy should you either move or want to re-shuffle your design.    

Creating an interesting design element outside is as easy as securing a wire rack or trellis to the wall and attaching a variety of plants tolerant to outdoor heat in your region.   

You can create a small wall-themed vegetable garden.  Have several tomato plants in containers on the ground and add secure planters to a trellis or a wall for a visual display that will feed you!

With a few screws and grape ivy, you can create a unique wall that will require little work other than securing the vines as they grow. 

Just like inside, you will want to have your plants at various heights to provide different places to catch the eye.  A large bamboo plan will fill space.  If you’re feeling whimsical, perhaps choosing an elephant topiary. 

Take these two elements and add several containers of petunias near ground level for an attractive, layered, and visually stimulating look. 

However, if your space is limited, use the balcony rails to host flower boxes or container holders.   Pansies will give the eye a riot of colour and catch people’s attention on the sidewalk.

Make the home you want, whether sophisticated or whimsical and have plants be your low-cost way to create it.



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