What Can Houseplants Do For A Room?

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By Dennis Rodkin.

Establishing an indoor garden isn’t just about buying plants, it’s about first knowing what you want those plants to accomplish for you–just like outside. Local experts offered these guidelines for decorating with houseplants.

Get into shape: Because many varieties of houseplants have either insignificant blooms or none at all, it’s almost automatic to consider their form and texture. Ben Bond, general manager of Foliage Design Systems in Broadview, Ill. notes that slender, upright plants seem more suited to a formal decor, while loose or flowing plants enhance a casual feeling. Sometimes it’s a matter of try, try again, he says. The slender stalks and plumy tops of a kentia palm, for example, can look either formal and elegant or contemporary and spare, Bond says.

Keep it simple: Indoor plants are only accessories, not the furnishings. “Don’t try to overwhelm a room with plants,” Bond says. “Use enough to soften the room and give it some life, but don’t put a plant on every surface.”

Live and let die: Houseplants are the indoor counterparts to annuals, not perennials or shrubs. They die and have to be replaced. “Too many people think when their houseplants die they have failed,” says Cathy Ricciardi of Interior Garden Services in Chicago. “But these plants are native to areas where they get much more light and from all sides, so they start deteriorating from the day you bring them indoors. You really have to look at houseplants the way you do planting annuals–they aren’t going to be there long.” Which is why she also says you should…

Buy some pots: Plants may come and go, but you will likely want the same sort of effect in that spot over a long period. So start with a container that is exactly right for its spot. “If you’re going to splurge, do it on the pot, not the plant that goes in it,” Ricciardi says. “It’s going to be around much longer.”

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