Decorating with Plants

It’s no secret I love working plants into my design work. It stems (no pun intended!) from my experience growing up having a plant-loving mother, who always used plants in the house as part of her decorating. We have carried that love into our home, and have a number of large indoor plants as important parts of the decor. The atmosphere imparted by having that addition of a living, green element really can’t be beat! I realize I’m fortunate to have a husband with a lot of patience, and a very green thumb, and I definitely give him credit for our plant livelihood!

When picking plants for myself, or for a client’s home, I take into account a few things:

1) Overall impact - I look at the shape and color of the leaves, preferring larger-leaved plants.

2) Maintenance & Care - I consider where the plant will go, and if it’s a good spot for it in terms of light. I have a decent working knowledge of common plants (again, a gift from my mom!), but usually refer to the little tag with info provided, too. I also consider whether the plant is considered high or low maintenance, and try to match that to a client, and/or myself. I would always recommend a you-really-can’t-kill-this kind of low-maintenance plant before suggesting faux.

3) Container - Ok, I’m going to admit it: I’m a container snob! Depending on where the plant will be, I feel the container style is almost as important as the plant itself in terms of carrying the style of the design. In my mind, the “crustier” the pot, the better! I love the look of old pots that have been sitting in gardens for ages - covered in moss, smudges, or even small cracks. For that aged look, you usually need pots of a natural material: terra cotta, stone, concrete, or even zinc, although the lightweight cast synthetic pots are getting more authentic-looking all the time! You can even fake an aging process by taking a new pot, and rubbing it with moss or grass, smearing it with dirt, etc. In a humid climate, you might just be able to keep it moist, and set it in a semi-shady spot for a few weeks, and voila - mossy pot!

Photo:  Kerry Kirk

Photo: Kerry Kirk

If a client knows they are just not “plant people,” we’ll style and photograph with the real deal, then sub in faux afterwards, so they don’t have to worry about care, but can still enjoy the idea of greenery. I never feel like a room is complete until the plant(s) are in place - it’s like the room literally comes to life!


I peeked into the local Terrain store after an event I recently co-hosted with Anthropologie, (Terrain’s mother company, if you didn’t know!) and spied some items to help get that cool, “crusty” plant vibe. Check them out!