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indoor plant-scaping

The Great Indoors

How to enhance your interior with plants.

The choices for indoor plant-scaping are endless – a large potted palm, a group of smaller potted plants on shelves or stands, green room dividers and even a vertical wall.

There is no better way to liven up a room than with actual living things. Lately, the interior design world has brought the focus to how indoor plant-scaping can enhance your interiors. Combined with the growing trend of millennial ‘plant influencers’ infiltrating newsfeeds with weekly snaps of their perfectly curated indoor plant collection, so-called plant addiction has become the new craze. With so much of modern design focused on muted tones and clean lines, it is no wonder that the wild and chaotic character of nature is now in high demand.

This is the ultimate interior design trend for garden lovers, and as someone embracing it wholeheartedly with almost 40 indoor plants, I can safely say there are no limits to designing with nature indoors.

Let there be light

Keeping your indoor plants happy comes with inherent interior design benefits. Placing an indoor plant in a dark spot is not only likely to kill it (depending on the plant) but it also makes it seem like an afterthought, ignored in the empty back corner like the frozen Brussels sprouts you swore you would eat.

Just placing your plants in bright natural light already enhances their beauty, making your plants the star of the show. This works best with plants that have shiny leaves to reflect sunlight (like peace lily – Spathiphyllum) or with very large leaves to capture brightness (like fiddle-leaf fig – Ficus lyrata). Where indoor plants can brighten a room in the daytime, at night they can be used to create some drama. Moveable lights can be positioned to enhance the shadows created by your indoor plants to foster that jungle feeling. Trailing plants can be placed around hanging lights to create a natural kind of lampshade, and can dim strong lighting for a better ambiance. Some popular options are heart-leaf philodendron (Philodendron cordatum), a non-invasive variety of ivy (Hedera helix) or devil’s ivy (Scindapsus aureus). Dinner party hosts and guests that live for the theatrics will swoon in seconds.

Mirror mirror on the wall

Mirrors are already an interior design favourite for their ability to transform a small space and create more light. When used behind plants, the design benefits of your indoor friends are tenfold, and you can focus on the plants rather than the potential mess that mirrors usually amplify. This is great for rooms with little light, like bathrooms, and although the quality of light is not as good as sunlight, low-light plants can still thrive. Vintage mirrors are particularly popular here as they add a quirky design element to a difficult space.

As bathrooms usually don’t have a lot of empty space, you can do some indoor plant-scaping with smaller indoor plants like peperomias or hang string-of-pearls (Senecio rowleyanus). The best part about using smaller plants in combination with mirrors is that you get the appearance of double the plant – the cheapest 2-for-1 deal out there.

Go green or go home

Plants are known for fitting in almost any colour scheme, but do we really want to just ‘fit them in’? Every indoor plant should be the leading lady, not relegated to a supporting role, and the best way to achieve this is to focus your interior colour scheme on the plants themselves. Stick to different types of solid green that amplify all the plants in your space – using different textures and shades can provide enough complexity to avoid boredom or repetition. Walking through home stores you may have noticed many plant designs on throw pillows or blankets, but we want the attention on the real thing so try to keep it neutral. If you have always fantasised about living outdoors but can’t fathom parting with your warm shower or fully stocked kitchen, bring the outdoors to you by using only natural elements in your interior design.

This is a bit more difficult to achieve as many people don’t have the opportunity to replace an entire household to stick to a certain design aesthetic, but there are always ways to adjust what you have. Wood, natural colours like greens and browns, and tons of plants are the quintessential indoor-outdoor combo. With everything else in your home neutral, all your indoor plants will be the immediate head-turner.

“Every indoor plant should be the ‘leading lady’”

Up the wall

This indoor plant-scaping design trend is all about going over the top, and there is no better way to do it than with an entire wall of plants. Vertical planters not only create a standout feature for your home, they also serve a number of practical purposes. Planting on walls provides an additional layer of insulation and can be used as a kind of soundproofing to minimise noise. Vertical gardens are perfect for those with limited floor or shelf space – using the wall means you don’t have to limit the greenery in your home. A tall trellis and creeper like ivy (a non-invasive hybrid) can create a natural room divider and provide tons of space for your plants to grow. When you get asked how you could possibly fit any more plants into your home, this is your answer.

“Be warned – using indoor plants as décor may become an addiction”

There’s no such thing as too many plants

A personal favourite tip, and one that I believe in religiously, is that you cannot have too many indoor plants. This is sure to induce a few frowns, but for those who relish being out in their gardens all day, there are very few reasons not to bring that feeling inside. You can easily contrast size, colour and texture to show the intricacies of each plant – try combining structure with chaos, like placing ferns and rubber fig (Ficus elastica) together.

This is a good time to play around with pots too, as there are so many unusual shapes and sizes that are too often overlooked. Plants are a kind of décor you don’t always have to match together but will still always look good together. Adding at least one plant to each surface is a good start, or you can have dedicated tables with a combination of plants and other décor pieces. Floating shelves can be loaded with tall and trailing plants, and boring bookshelves can be transformed into an interior design masterpiece with a few ferns or a Philodendron. Exposed beams are the perfect opportunity to use hanging plants in abundance, as your space is never really limited and the plants will draw the eye up to your tall ceilings.

Essentially, any surface that is not used at least daily is ideal for indoor plant-scaping. You may get the occasional ‘it looks like you live in a jungle’ comment (as I have many times), but I always take that as the highest compliment and reward myself with a few more jungle friends. Be warned – using indoor plants as décor may become an addiction. You may find yourself swearing that you have enough plants and banning yourself from buying any more, only to return from the nursery with four in your hand and more in your boot. My excuses used to be that they were so much cheaper than any other décor, or that I had to save those little plants from being neglected by the shop owners, but I’ve come to realise you don’t need excuses. I am a self-diagnosed plantaholic, and if you want to join in on the healthiest addiction around, welcome to the club.

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The Gardener