What's Out the Window: Planting Your Roots
When I was growing up, we always had the same houseplant – the good ol’ tried and true Pothos. The classic “starter” plant with its endearing heart-shaped leaves, its deep shades of green (or yellow stripes), and its inability to be killed, totally defined my childhood. Our Pothos climbed over bookcases, dangled down from side tables, and even crawled down the shower wall in the bathroom. Naturally, when I moved out on my own, that beloved houseplant was my first purchase.
When I became a designer, incorporating plants into my décor was a no brainer. They remove allergens, cooking odors and smoke from the air – who wouldn’t want that? They add a natural warmth and texture (not to mention color) to any space. And, there’s pride in keeping something alive. But when it comes to decorating with houseplants, there are a few rules of (green) thumb.
First, you’ve got to pay attention to where to put them. There’s nothing better than seeing a plant lifting its chin up to the sun streaming through the windows. We all took science in school – plants absorb light and turn it into energy (it’s called photosynthesis, people).
So just stick them in the window, right? Wrong.
There’s more to it. Are your windows facing North? You’d be best looking for indirect-light loving plants (maybe Pothos). East-facing? That’s pretty much only morning light, so get plants that say, “moderate sun” on that handy little tag that sticks in the dirt. West-facing? That’s that good, toasty summer afternoon sun – you’re good to go with full sun plants there. And Southern Exposure? Ding ding ding! That’s the winner - you’re going to get the most consistent light year-round and have endless plant opportunities to choose from.
Next, what kind of plant person are YOU? Will you remember to water them? Will you remember to look at them? Admittedly, I adore plants, and don’t mind babying some of the more complicated house plants, but I also appreciate some simpler friends too. So, my #1 go-to plants are the snake plant and the spider plant. One, because I love the names, and two because they are almost indestructible.
Snake plants (sansevieria) have tall, stiff light yellow-trimmed leaves that run straight up and down and give great height and color to any space. They have a modern vibe, so you can really play with their containers. And bonus points – they’re technically in the succulent family so you can forget to water them for weeks at a time. Snake plants are low-light plants, so they’re a great choice for the bedroom too.
Spider plants are exactly how they sound – they look like a bunch of long, thin spider legs climbing out of the pot. Put them on a high shelf and they might find their way to the ground. The mother plant grows little baby spider plants with flowers at the end, so they are constantly changing their look – natch, their design. They like a lot of light but won’t hate you if they don’t get it. They’re the perfect houseguest.
Succulents have made a huge comeback. I love designing with succulents because you can put them in any room. They liven up a coffee table, are perfect to perch on a stack of books, and look great clustered into a group with their friends. You could line the windows with them – they’ll look good anywhere, including bedrooms and bathrooms. Water them, don’t water them, they’ll still love you.
Speaking of cacti, they’re actually a great design tool. Don’t feel like making a permanent statement with furniture? Cactus plants will do it for you. They come in all shapes and sizes, so let your hair down and have some fun. Like succulents, you can mix them together in one pot, of show them off on their own. Bunny Ears, Easter Cactus, Chin Cactus, Saguaro, Old Lady Cactus (it’s really called that) – they all give off different blooms that will take your breath away. And – you water them monthly. MONTHLY. I heart you, Cacti.
The Air plant (Tillandsia). They’re trendy, they’re cool, I’ve killed so many of them. Moving on.
When in plant-design doubt, go with Old Faithful – a potted tree in a great corner. It will never go out of style. I am loving the Fiddle Leaf Fig right now. With its wide, rich looking leaves it just gives a “come in and sit down” vibe to any room.
Another favorite is the Rubber Tree – there are tons of varieties of this one, and if you’re feeling bold, go for the one with burgundy-black leaves (swoon). Another fave is the Yucca. You Southern Exposure people, run (don’t walk!) to grab a Yucca tree. It will bathe in your sunlight and you can totally forget to water it because it’s drought tolerant. Win-win!
Hey, did you know you can put a dwarf fruit tree in the house? Try it! They love keeping watch in the window during the winter months and will make your house smell citrus-y fresh. Not to mention, add a cheerful pop of color to any space. “Could you grab me a lemon from the tree in the living room? Thanks!”
The greatest thing about decorating with plants is that they all live in a pot – which means you get to dress them up. Let your pots do the designing for you – these days, there are so many styles to choose from: hammered metal, bright ceramic colors, geometric, woven materials, etc. And here’s a tip – group your plants according to their care. That way, if you forget to water the drought tolerant ones, they’re all together, keeping each other company while they wait for their drink. Same goes for the ones that need more water – if they’re all together, they’re more likely to get watered consistently. And they won’t be lonely.
If you’re truly not a plant person, don’t be scared to decorate with faux plants – they’re making great ones these days. So, stick them in the window and let the sun shine in.
But – don’t forget to dust them!
P.S. Want to see more from Laurie March? Visit Get Inspired With Laurie for tips, tricks, videos, and more!