THE RULES OF HOUSEPLANT DESIGN
Science has proved it : houseplants make us happier and healthier. When studies tell us that plants can purify the air, lift our mood, and reduce our stress levels, we have every reason to fill our homes with wonderful, happiness-inducing plants of every shape, size, and color.
With so many different varieties offered, there is a plant—or twenty—to suit everyone: elegant, blossoming orchids; tiny little cacti and succulents; delicate trailing plants; floor-standing palms and foliage plants … the list goes on and on.
It’s hard to resist the urge to simply fill any and every available surface with a random assortment of greenery. But the best houseplant displays are those that go one step further : astute, curated courses of action that can make a state of mind inside a house, be it a comfortable little desert spring or an emotional, engineering plant show.
As much as we may want to, we can’t all turn our homes into a full-scale botanical garden.
Instead, we need to be a little more inventive.
Poor light? Look for unfussy foliage plants, such as cast iron plants or snake plants, that can survive in a shadier spot.
No free surface space?
Plant up a smaller than normal nursery inside a glass terrarium, or go hard and fast and make a hanging garden with macramé grower and kokedama.
And, once you’ve designed your plant-filled home, how exactly do you keep the plants in peak condition? With this book, you’ll be able to care for whichever plants you choose, keep them healthy and strong, and take cuttings to share with friends and family (or to grow your own collection).
Treat your plants well and, no matter how large or small your collection, you’ll be rewarded with an indoor garden you can enjoy for years to come.
How you choose to design your houseplant collection depends on your personal style, imagination, and the space you have available.
With so many variables, the possibilities are almost endless.
But for your displays to be successful, follow these key principles.
1- CARE COMES BEFORE STYLE
A healthy plant is a beautiful plant. When designing for a particular space, always choose plants that you know will thrive in the light, temperature, and humidity conditions provided by that space.
There is no point in taking the time to arrange the perfect display, only to watch the plants within it begin to wilt and die because they are unhappy in their location.
2- THINK NATURAL (HOUSEPLANT DESIGN)
Be inspired by nature. Consider where and how a plant would grow in the wild, and try to emulate that in your display.
So if a plant thrives on a damp, semishaded forest floor, provide it with a position thatoffers a similar environment.
If it trails from high branches, place it in a hanging container.
If it grows aerial roots without soil, build that into your display. Whatever its natural circumstances, use them as inspiration.
3- HARMONY AND CONTRAST
Strike a balance between harmonious and contrasting design features.
Familiarize yourself with the four key elements of design, and harmonize or contrast them as needed to achieve the effect you want. Harmony can create a balanced, unified appearance, while contrast will add interest and dynamism to a display.
UNDERSTANDING HOUSEPLANT DESIGN SCALE
To put it simply, scale refers to the relative size and proportion of objects.
A plant may be large or small, but its relationship with neighboring plants or objects is what defines its scale.
Proportion is key to any successful design :
a tiny cactus and a weeping fig, for example, would be totally out of scale and proportion with each other.
Get the scale right, and you can create interesting relationships between the plants in your display.
WHAT IS HOUSEPLANT DESIGN SCALE?
Scale describes your plants’ sizes in comparison with one another.
It is closely related to proportion, which describes the size of your plants within an overall display.
Plants of a similar size are harmonious in scale, while those of different heights contrast in scale.
Scale is relative : any two plants can share the same contrast of scale, provided that they maintain the same proportions.
HARMONY OF SCALE
Choosing and grouping together plants of uniform or nearly uniform scale results in a classic, highly ordered display.
Repetition of scale and proportion creates a harmonious pattern and offers a sense of unity and simplicity.
Harmony can become dull if the repetition is overdone, but in moderation it offers a sense of order and rhythm.
How do your houseplants measure up against one another?
CONTRAST OF SCALE
When plants are in proportion but of different scales, the eye is led from one to the other and the relationship is less static, and more dynamic, than that of a harmonious display.
There is a sense of movement, going from small up to large, drawing the eye to a focal point in the grouping but maintaining proportion so that the relationship isn’t broken.
Keep the scale of your plant display in proportion with your space to create equilibrium.
DESIGNING WITH HARMONY OF SCALE
Harmony can reinforce pattern, so use plants of the same scale to echo and exaggerate existing patterns within your living space, such as the symmetry of a windowsill or the staggered surface of a flight of stairs.
Maintaining the same scale across a display while varying other HOUSEPLANT DESIGN elements creates a harmonious pattern that unites your plants.