Rustic tulip vase

Decorating with plants: 10 interior design ideas

By BBC Maestro

Bring the outside into your home with some beautiful potted plants. Decorating with plants is the perfect way to add colour and texture to your indoor spaces while enjoying the health benefits that houseplants bring.

While flowers get all the attention when it comes to creating displays, a well-chosen houseplant can be equally as effective. In this article, we look at how to brighten up your interior design with plants, from spa-like bathrooms to making the most of your wall space.

Why we love decorating with plants indoors

Like flowers, houseplants bring colour and texture to our rooms. A well-cared-for potted plant can live for years, and because of this lengthy lifespan, they’re great to involve in interior design schemes and can even become the focal point of a room.

If you live in a flat, a built-up area or anywhere without a garden, houseplants can fill our natural need to have greenery in our lives.

White orchid on a pale red ground.

Making the most of your potted plants

Before you display your plant or plants, make sure they’re looking their best. Simon Lycett describes how he and his fellow professional florists “primp and pimp our plants to make them just a little bit more original and exciting”.

As well as choosing a fabulous pot, little touches like a pretty top dressing can make all the difference. Simon suggests using crushed sea shells, which act as a mulch as well as decoration. If you have a house plant that needs support, such as an orchid, swap the plastic cane for something more organic and aesthetic, like pussy willow or dogwood stems. Tie the plant stem to the support with a ribbon for a pop of extra colour.

Let’s take a look at some inspirational plant décor ideas.

1.  Create a group display

Create a focal point in your room with an abundance of houseplants. A group display gives a space a wonderful, natural feel, and it’s an especially lovely thing to do if you don’t have a garden. You can display your plants in a neat row on a shelf or sideboard for a modern feel, or create a more organic grouping that brings the outdoors in.

Simon Lycett suggests making a retro “pot-et-fleur” (literally “pot and flowers”), a container display that combines houseplants with cut flowers. Plant the container with a mix of plants, thinking about how the colours and textures work together, then hide a vase of water in the centre of the foliage. This will house your centrepiece bloom or blooms, which you can keep changing for different effects.

2. Brighten up the bathroom

A plant or two can really soften the stark whiteness of the typical bathroom suite. Bathrooms aren’t generally good rooms to titivate with ornaments, bookshelves or pictures because the humidity can cause damage. However, a moisture-loving plant like a fern will love the atmosphere in the bath or shower room, and can give the room a spa-inspired feeling.

Plant on table

3. Suspend a leaf

Hanging baskets have recently seen a resurgence. They’re a great way to keep your plants safe from kids, cats and other catastrophes while creating a gorgeous display. Trailing plants look great – go retro with a spider plant or string-of-pearls. Ivy and ferns are other traditional choices. But before you hoist up your hanging macrame planter, work out a watering plan…

4. Use the walls

If you don’t have much space on surfaces for plants, make the most of your wall space. Add a floating shelf or two for your houseplants or use special wall planters. A lush and healthy plant can look every bit as good on your walls as a painting. Choose brighter colours against a dark-painted background (neon pothos work well here) and darker greens for contrast on white walls.

5. Indoor trees as focal points

A large, floor-standing plant like a ficus or a citrus tree will create a great focal point in a room. Your statement plant can be used to brighten up a dark corner or if the window has a garden view, to create a pleasing balance with the outdoor greenery. Add lightweight string lights at Christmas for an instant and easy decoration.

6. Soften your shelving

However much we love them, an unrelieved row of books on a shelf can sometimes look a bit much. Add texture and colour to your shelving with the odd plant and decorative feature (a framed picture, candle or clock, for example). Cacti work well on bookshelves because they won’t increase the humidity around your books. Just make sure you have sturdy bookends, so your plants don’t take a tumble.

7.  Add colour to a corner

Is there a corner in your living room where the sun doesn’t shine, or perhaps your hallway has little natural light? Use a shade-loving plant to add a bit of interest. Boston ferns, ivy and begonias will bring a touch of colour to a gloomy spot, and all will thrive without too much sunlight. Shade-tolerant plants with variegated leaves add extra interest.

8. Make a table display

When it comes to decorating a table, we naturally tend to choose flowers. However a potted plant can make an excellent centrepiece, and of course, it’s one that you can use time and time again. A vibrant orchid can make a stunning alternative to a vase of flowers or again, add a splash of colour with variegated leaves.

At Christmas, red or white poinsettias make the perfect table display for your festive dining. Dressing a small table? Compact pot plants are a lovely way to add interest to a smaller, bistro-style table.

9. Create a bedroom oasis

Greenery makes many of us happy. Where better to introduce feelings of comfort and relaxation than in the bedroom? Some plants are renowned for their air-cleaning properties too, so place an aloe vera, snake plant or bamboo plant in your bedroom to help create a healthy environment.

If you have the floorspace, stand a statement plant in the window or simply pop a peace lily (another good air-cleaning option) on your dressing table. A row of small plants in feature planters can really elevate a headboard, or if you prefer, add a neat floating shelf above the bed.

10. Just dot them around

Got a spare bit of worktop or an empty space on a shelf? Add a plant. Smaller plants can liven up a coffee table, piano top or corner of your desk. You can also place some sun-loving plants on a windowsill. Those splashes of green really add something special to your room.

We hope these ideas have inspired you to introduce more potted plants into your home. There are simply so many ways to display them, and you can easily transform a room with some well-placed plants.

In his BBC Maestro course, Decorating with Flowers, florist Simon Lycett looks at lots of floral and houseplant decorating ideas. From how to “primp and pimp” your pot plants to adding drama with garlands, Simon will inspire you to try your hand at flower arranging and creating stunning plant displays.

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