1. Identify your style
Decide what effect you’re after, as this will determine what your plant style should be.
If you’re keen to create an urban jungle, then mix multiple tropical plants together to create exciting combinations of plants with different colours, shapes and textures. Clustering plants with the same light requirements is a good place to start. Plants that grow together, thrive together.
Minimalists, on the other hand, should opt for one unusual, standout plant, like the fiddle leaf fig or banana tree. Placing them in their own special spot, like on a side table or raised pedestal, means they will have even more impact on the space.
A third option, for lovers of beige and sandy tones, is to introduce a family of cacti. They will complement the interior space and look right at home amongst your muted soft furnishings. Pick your look, and the plants will follow suit.
2. See things from a different perspective
If you’re struggling to reimagine your space from the perspective of plants, take a step outside, then re-enter and see if you can view it differently. How and where does the light fall? Is it direct or indirect, and how does it move through the space during the day? Where will a plant look its best — is it possible to create beautiful shadowplay with the holes in the leaves of a Monstera? Then move through the room, and consider where you can display your plants to achieve the best effect from all angles.
3. Be creative
Plants can be used to define a space or to draw attention to a specific part of the room. So decide where you want others to focus their attention, and think creatively about how you can focus their eyes in that direction. For example, you celebrate high ceilings by filling the space with hanging plants. Or draw people into a room by placing a shelf filled with pot plants at the far end.
4. Take stock
Perhaps you already have some houseplants to start working with. Place all the pots in the middle of the room, and try to spread them across the space afresh. You may find you need to add another plant, or you’re missing certain structures or shapes. In that case, make a note of the effect you’re after, then take a trip to a plant shop or garden centre. The staff there will be able to help you out.
5. Don’t be scared
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so experiment and have a go. By trying different plants out, and playing with their positioning in the room, you will discover your own formula for good plant design. Tastes differ, after all, and your room has to work well for you, first and foremost. There’s really no right or wrong here, and if a plant crisps up and doesn’t survive then don’t feel down on yourself, it’s all natural and part of the process. Each plant requires something different: the more you practice taking care of them, the more you increase your knowledge and confidence.
Be honest with yourself as well. You know how good you are at remembering to water pot plants, and how much sunlight the rooms in your house receive. If plants find it difficult to thrive in your home, try some easy-care varieties to begin with, such as Pilea, Yuccas and snake plants — all virtually indestructible.
6. Get inspired
If you’re still scratching your head and wondering where to start, check out Pinterest and Instagram for cool green projects that will spark your imagination. Make a physical or virtual moodboard, with all your favourite plant design projects, and feel the creativity begin to flow.