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10 houseplant decor ideas for big impact

You don't have to have an entire garden room to make a statement with your indoor plants.

There is a lot to be said for for having houseplants. They provide all kinds of health and wellness benefits – doctors are even prescribing them for anxiety, depression, and loneliness. They are also a beautiful, zero-waste decorating option. Why buy more junk for decor when living green things have so much visual impact, are enduring in style, and won't end up in the landfill?

Decorating with houseplants is somewhat straightforward, as long as you give each plant a place with appropriate conditions, it's almost hard to go wrong. That's the beauty of plants, they just look great. One trend of late is the “indoor jungle” look, which brings to mind some of the more exuberant plantscapes favored by the Victorians, see photo above. It is hard to deny the impact of basically having an entire garden inside! But a plethora of plants may not be for everyone – and if it is not for you, worry not!

Following are some ideas for how to make some impact without relying on simple abundance.

1. Go big

The top photo shows that you don't need a lot of fussy plants to make a statement – just go extra-large. Big plants like, palms, fiddle leaf figs, ZZ plant, rubber trees, et cetera can be pricey, but if you buy them younger and raise them yourself, your patience will pay off.

2. Ivy League inspiration

Flip the script on old Tudor houses and elite schools by growing ivy on interior walls instead of outside. Trailing plants like the lovely pothos can be trained to climb, as can ivies and of course any other type of vining plant. I like the trellis in the photo that lets this ivy both trail and climb.

3. Mobilize a tree

Put a tree on wheels! This is a great way to move your tree around to get more light or get it out of an area that may be too cold … or to keep you company in different rooms. Who needs plants in every room when you can have one plant in all of them? It also makes it easy to wheel your baby outdoors for some outside time when the weather is suitable.

4. Use surprise plants

A pantry plant? Why not? Scattering small plants around in surprising places is a delightful way to perk up any space.

5. Put a monstera in there

Remember in Portlandia when they “put a bird on it” to turn mundane things into hipster treasures? Monstera deliciosa may be modern-day equivalent in houseplant form. They are dramatic and whimsical and absolutely lovely, making them the perfect plant in just about every plantscape you'll see on Instagram. They may be trendy, but I think no home should be without one!

6. Consider complimentary colors

Complementary colors are pairs of colors that live opposite one another on the color wheel – and when placed together, they make each other POP. Shades of green and shades of red/pink are complimentary, so placing plants in areas with reds and pinks will ensure some bold pizzazz.

7. Colonize a new room

Currently ninety-nine percent of my houseplants live in my bathroom and it is heaven. I wrote about them in “8 ‘shower plants' that want to live in your bathroom” and I stand by this scheme! Although I love my rainforest bathroom, you could create a similar garden room anyplace that you might not have considered before. There are great reasons to have plants in your kitchen or bedroom, for example.

8. Make a mix-and-match shelf

There is something comfortingly old-school about having a big simple shelf filled with a frowsy mix of pretty plants – and it looks so great! This is a particularly good option for homes with children or pets, as some houseplants can be toxic to both sets.

9. Try a fruit tree

Sadly not all of us can have an orangerie like Marie Antoinette did – but you don't have to have a greenhouse dedicated to citrus to have oranges year round. As long as you have enough light, you can grow citrus inside. Dwarf varieties like calamondin (Citrus mitis) and trovita (Citrus sinensis) can thrive indoors with eight to 10 hours of light a day. The very dedicated could try putting a little orange tree on wheels and moving from window to window if they don't have good southern exposure.

10. Supplement with leaf motifs

For the traveler, too-busy, or brown thumb, sometimes you don't need a lot of plant for a lot of plant effect. I know the idea here was to not buy a bunch of stuff and use plants for decor instead, but when all else fails, use plant-themed things. In the photo above there is a single Pilea peperomioides, but the plant vibe is nonetheless strong. Rather than buying new things, hunt in thrift shops for floral and botanical items, and try some DIY stenciling on the walls instead of wallpaper.

For more ideas and tips on plant care, see related stories below.

You don't have to have an entire garden room to make a statement with your indoor plants.