6 Ideas for Decorating With Houseplants

Learn how to choose and care for houseplants, plus find six ideas for gorgeous indoor garden displays.

Kitchen with lots of plants
Photo: Thomas M. Barwick/Getty Images

Longing for a little indoor greenery, but less than confident when it comes to picking, potting, and caring for houseplants? Real Simple editors bring you six ideas for gorgeous displays—then they show you how to keep them growing strong. Adding an indoor garden to your home is much easier than you thought.

African violets
Plant African violets in a wide, shallow ceramic pot. Cover with sheet moss (sold at most nurseries) to add a cozy feel and to help hold in moisture. Care: Direct morning light. Protect from bright afternoon sun. To water, lift the moss so you can soak the soil. Keep the soil moist all the time; try not to get the leaves wet. Getty Images

1. Dress Up Supermarket Flowers

Plant African violets in a wide, shallow ceramic pot. Cover with sheet moss (sold at most nurseries) to add a cozy feel and to help hold in moisture.

Care: Direct morning light. Protect from bright afternoon sun. To water, lift the moss so you can soak the soil. Keep the soil moist all the time; try not to get the leaves wet.

Mini cacti and succulents on a table
Margarita Terekhova / Unsplash

2. Stage a Still Life With Succulents

Like intricate little sculptures, mini cacti and succulents make an intriguing assemblage. Mix round, pointy, shiny, and matte plants, unifying them with pots in a cohesive color palette.

Care: Direct light. The soil should thoroughly dry out between waterings.

Fig tree on wheels
Christopher Baker

3. Put a Towering Tree on Wheels

The large, leathery leaves of a tall fiddle-leaf fig can fill (and transform) an empty corner. Make an oversize plant mobile so you can easily roll it out of the way for vacuuming or to protect it from too much sun. All you need is a piece of pre-cut bluestone from a landscaping center set on a wheeled caddie.

Care: Moderate light. Keep away from bright afternoon sun. Let the top inch of soil dry out, then water thoroughly.

Phalaenopsis orchid
Getty Images

4. Take Advantage of a Steamy Spot With a Humidity-Hungry Orchid

Think of a phalaenopsis orchid as a long-lasting bouquet: It's magnificent for a month or so, and then the blooms are gone. Phalaenopsis are fans of light and humidity, so they do well in a sunny bathroom. Because they come potted in a fast-draining medium (a mix of peat, charcoal, and bark), they can be a challenge to keep hydrated—water seeps out the bottom quickly. To trap moisture, set the pot on gravel in a low glass cylinder; as water evaporates, it will be caught by the glass and reabsorbed by the orchid. Choose a plant with bright, shiny, firm (not droopy) foliage and only a few of the lowest flowers open.

Care: Direct morning light. Protect from bright afternoon sun. Allow the top half-inch of medium to dry out before watering again.

Ferns in a bedroom
Christopher Baker

5. Green the Bedroom With Ferns

Trading a bedside lamp for a rich, leafy fern offers a surprise hit of nature that's especially striking in a neutral space—it can turn an understated room into a minimalist enchanted forest. Ordinary ferns look regal when tucked in pretty matte pots and groomed a bit; just trim stray fronds and remove anything brown. Similar but different, these varieties (left, a Green Fantasy fern; right, a button fern) relate artfully from their perches. When shopping for ferns, look up. Anything in a hanging pot can be relocated to a standing pot, and often the lushest specimens are above you.

Care: Indirect light. Water whenever the surface of the soil is dry to the touch.

Five dracaena in one planter
Christopher Baker

6. Stuff Multiple Plants Into One Container for Instant Lushness

What keeps a low display from looking like something in a dentist's office? Volume and a sleek pot. There are five dracaena (from the supermarket) repotted into this cone-shaped planter, creating an abundant, exotic feel. Against matte black, the striped leaves look dramatic and exciting. Arcing over, they "break" the edges of the mod container, so the effect is clean but not rigid. When shopping, pick dense plants with glossy foliage. A modern saucer, plus a slab of marble (check stone centers), adds panache.

Care: Indirect light. Let the top inch of soil dry out, then water thoroughly.

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