PLANTS AS DÉCOR
House plants are magical when it comes to interior decor. They simultaneously provide a pop of color, create texture, and bring a sense of life into a space. Their variety in shape + size make them applicable in almost any setting, and you can really never have too many! In spite of their innate versatility, it can be difficult to know which plants will do best in certain settings, how to incorporate them into your interior decor, and where the best places to buy plants (and their accessories!) actually are. We will go over some of these finer points and hopefully give you the confidence to start incorporating more leafy friends into your interior!
CHOOSING YOUR PLANTS
Obviously your first priority should be getting plants that will flourish in the room’s environment and whose level of care is equal to what you are able and willing to provide. Regardless of your criteria, there are plants that will work for you! Here is our shortlist of beautiful plants that add a unique flair to your decor with notes about their care requirements:
CERIMAN (Monstera deliciosa)
A real statement plant, the tropical Monstera Deliciosa does best with indirect sunlight. It requires moderate, even watering about once per week. Due to its tropical origins, the Monstera will flourish most in a somewhat humid environment. Recreate this by keeping it warm in the house (between 70 and 75 degrees) and misting it every 2-3 days. Keep those impressive leaves bright green by gently wiping the leaves with a dust cloth occasionally.
SNAKE PLANT (Sansevieria trifasciata)
Snake plants are one of the hardiest indoor plant species out there. They will grow in almost any light level (aside from direct sun) and require very little watering. The soil should be completely dry before thoroughly watering, so a quick sip may be good once per week, but a full watering can be between 2-6 weeks depending on the light levels, house temperature, and humidity. As an added bonus snake plants filter nitrogen oxide and formaldehyde from the air.
FIDDLE LEAF FIG (Ficus lyrata)
One of the pickier plants out there, Fiddle Leaf Figs require bright, indirect light, thorough waterings (although they do not like sitting in water), a humid environment, and regular leaf dustings. Although not as difficult to care for as some people may think, these environmental factors may rule this plant out for you. If cared for properly, Fiddle Leaf Figs can grow up to 6 feet tall in the interior, and their bright, large leaves make them the perfect statement piece in public areas.
There are a wide variety of ferns that you can use indoors. Generally, they do best in medium to bright indirect light and more humid environments (perfect for bathrooms + kitchens). Keep the soil damp, but don’t overwater! Once/week should do the trick. Due to their unique, soft tendrils, ferns add an interesting texture to your space.
ETERNITY PLANT (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
The Eternity Plant is a tough-as-nails species that would be a good fit for those with less than ideal environments. It requires watering every 1-2 weeks (when the top two inches of soil is dry), but even if you forget to water it, its survival instinct of shedding extra leaves when in drought will keep it alive until you remember to give it a drink. Even in situations where there is no natural light, Eternity plants will do just fine under fluorescent lights.
POTHOS (Epipremnum aureum)
Another durable plant, Pothos long tendrils make it perfect for growing up a pole or trellis, in a hanging basket, or sprawling on a mantel. It will survive in all light levels and should be watered when the top inch of soil is dry. As an added bonus, Pothos filters toxins from the air such as Formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and benzene fumes.
Palm plants add a playful tropical touch in your interior, and have the added bonus of being able to grow in lower light settings. These plants purify your air and their soil should be kept uniformly moist at all times.
CHINESE MONEY PLANT (Pilea peperomioides)
The Chinese Money Plant (not to be confused with its tree cousin) is a stunning plant whose unique leaves make it a real show stopper. It should be placed in a pot that drains well as the soil should dry out between waterings (once/1-2 weeks). Keep it in bright, indirect sunlight and mist, or wipe its leaves occasionally!
STRING OF PEARLS (Senecio rowleyanus)
One of the most unique succulents out there, the String of Pearls does best in bright, indirect light. Make sure the soil dries out before fully watering again; using succulent/cactus soil will be your best bet to ensure it does not get over watered.
This is obviously a (very) short list of all the many wonderful plants you can incorporate into your home decor, but they provide a good starting point for what plants may be best suited to your own life. Next we’ll consider how their aesthetics play into each other and the rest of your home decor.
ARRANGING HOUSE PLANTS
Now that you have selected plants that are compatible with your home + lifestyle, it’s time to think about where they will make the most impact. Perhaps you have a sunroom or window bench that you want filled with plants as a statement, or you want to use a few as accent pieces throughout the house. Whatever your intention, there are a few key components to keep in
Consider how the height + width of your plants plays with the neighboring furniture, decorative objects, and with each other. The palm in the above example draws the eye up in contrast to the more horizontal sofa without dwarfing it. The stool under the cactus adds a simple texture and gives the plant some much needed height to create a soft, gradual top line for the eye to follow. The same principles apply if arranging smaller tabletop plants, or hanging plants.
Rather than adding a bunch of color to a space which can get rather complicated rather quickly, incorporating contrasting, yet complementary textures creates an easy visual interest. Plants have a unique, natural texture that plays well with most materials. If setting up a dense plant location like the bench pictured above, you will want to be mindful of not adding in too many bold shapes + textures as this becomes overwhelming to the eye.
The leaves on the plants above are interesting, yet stay relatively simple, with complimentary rounded leaves in similar shades of green. Plants with real statement textures like the String of Pearls will do the most for your space if they stand alone, or are paired with only 1-2 other plants or decorative objects.
Plants are a godsend for those of us who are hesitant or lost when it comes to incorporating bold colors into our homes. The above example shows how plants can brighten up a neutral palette without having to make a conscious decision about your home’s color story. That’s what’s so amazing about houseplants as decor; they essentially act as a neutral while adding some much needed vibrancy + color in your house.
Even in the example used for scale where there is a bold, orange sofa, the plants compliment this strong color while adding a cool contrast. Consider if using plants with deep, dark green leaves, or plants with electric, bright green leaves speaks more to the aim of your home decor.
SOURCING PLANTS + THEIR ACCESSORIES
There are many wonderful local retailers in Portland whose knowledgeable staff sells a wide variety of plants + accessories. These are a great place to start, and then, if there is a unique accessory you are still in need of, we also have recommendations for some online resources.
SOLABEE FLOWERS & BOTANICALS
An Introspecs favorite, Solabee has been slinging plants + flowers in Portland since 2009. You’re sure to find a new plant friend in one of their two locations in the NW Slabtown neighborhood or NE Piedmont neighborhood.
A huge variety of plants sourced from around the world awaits you at Pomarius Nursery. In addition to finding a one-of-a-kind plant, you can also attend classes + events to learn more about the species they offer in their beautiful store.
Appetite is a charming shop where you’ll find loads of plants + cacti. Subtle southwestern influences can be found due to the owners’ original upbringings in New Mexico, as well as handcrafted hanging planters, and reupholstered vintage furniture. A wonderful, eclectic shop to spend an hour or two browsing!
As much of a selection as these local shops have, you may still be in search of a unique pot or accessory. There are an infinite amount of online retailers that sell a variety of accessories, and it may be worth it to turn to these sources if you’re not finding pieces that are the exact right fit.
Some retailers like Design Within Reach, West Elm, Anthropologie, and Room & Board have brick and mortar stores in Portland where you can see their planters and accessories in person before purchasing. Others like CB2 do not have a Portland location, but have unique plant accessories like the Saic Watering Carafe. We love functional decorative objects, and finding attractive gardening tools can be a great way to beef up your decor and take care of your plants.
Hopefully this broad overview on caring for your houseplants, how to best incorporate them into your home, and where to purchase them + their accessories has given you the confidence you need to start bringing some extra greenery into your life. As a studio, we definitely swear by the power of a well placed houseplant and we’re sure now you will too!