Plants add life, movement and natural texture to any room. They clean the air we breathe, encourage a sense of calm and provide a connection to the outdoors. Houseplants are also excellent decor options for an empty corner or an unused space. Even if you’ve got a black thumb instead of a green one, you’ll be able to incorporate plant life into your home using our guide for decorating with houseplants.

Identify Light Levels in the Room

To start decorating with houseplants, begin by identifying the levels of sunlight in each room. Observe which direction your windows face and the light patterns throughout the day. North-facing windows generally provide the least amount of light, while south-facing windows provide the most. East- and west-facing windows provide bright, direct light during different parts of the day. Placing a plant very close to a window increases the available light since the window, when closed, acts as a magnifying glass.

Plants are typically grouped into three light categories based on need: bright or direct light, moderate or indirect light, and low light. On a sunny day, look at the shadows cast by the sun to approximate the level of light. Bright light creates a sharply-defined shadow and moderate light creates a fuzzy shadow. Little to no shadow is a sign of low light.

Plant growth indicates whether or not the plant is in the correct light environment. Spindly growth and yellow leaves are signs of too little light. Pale, burned foliage indicates the plant has too much light.

Determine the needs of the space

Whatever your design goals are, you can select the best plant for your needs once you decide how large of a space you want to fill, as well as whether the plant container will rest on the ground or a table, or will be mounted on a wall. When decorating with houseplants, consider the scale of existing elements, such as sofas, tables and windows. An expansive room, wide table or large wall looks best with a sizable plant or group of plants, while petite varieties or single plants work well in compact spaces.

Once you know where you will put the plant, think about how much care and attention you are willing and able to provide. If you want the look of lush houseplants but have limited availability to care for them, consider faux plants. Artificial orchids, succulents and more leafy varieties also work well in spaces without natural light, such as hallways and bathrooms. Prefer live plants but aren’t sure how much care you can give them? Look for low-maintenance plants without precise care requirements. To care for a wide range of plants with different watering needs, consider setting a calendar notice to remind you when it’s time to check water levels in each plant. Refer to your local gardening center for more specific information about decorating with houseplants, including over-watering, soil drainage, fertilization needs and soil type.

Choose Your Plants

Use the following houseplants guide, organized by light level requirements, to choose a plant that will work in your home.

Large high light plants: yucca family, rubber plant, weeping fig, fiddle-leaf fig, Meyer lemon trees

Large mid light plants: umbrella tree, Madagascar Dragon tree, palm family (Date, Washingtonia, Areca), Norfolk Island pine, Croton

Large low light: Kentia palm, Tree philodendron, False Caster, peace lily, dumb cane

Small/Medium high light: Desert Rose, Aloe vera, Ponytail palm, cacti and succulents

Small/Medium mid light: Jade Plant, Split leaf philodendron, Ivy varieties, Snake plant and African Spear Plant, Orchids, Spider plant/airplane plant, African violets

Small/Medium low light: Philodendron family, Ming Aralia, Radiator plants, Castiron Plant, Lucky bamboo

Select Planters and Pots

Once you have identified the houseplants that best fit your needs, think about how planters, pots and vases will work within the room.

First, group plants in a way that mimics how they grow in order to streamline watering and maintenance. For example, placing a low-light fern next to a high-light cactus makes it harder to properly care for both plants, but grouping a variety of mid-light African Violets into one container saves time and effort.

Second, consider how planters will look next to your existing furniture. Brightly-colored pots create visual interest, and planters in neutral colors create a canvas for more eye-catching plants. In modern spaces, use geometric planters or pots in metallic materials for an industrial look.

Customized Houseplant Decorating Ideas

Now that you’re ready to get started, browse through some of our favorite ideas for decorating with houseplants.

Corners, oddly-shaped spaces: For a clean, simple look, use a single large plant in a floor planter, or multiple pots of trailing ivy on a tiered plant stand in wrought iron, wood or marble. Place larger pots on wheeled bases to easily move them for cleaning and care. To decorate a corner without using floor space, install L-shaped or corner shelves and add small planters, frames and other decorative objects.

Mantels: Topiaries on each end of a mantel create a living framework for a mirror or painting. For an unexpected design twist, cluster mini potted ferns or spider plants in fireplaces and hearths, and add an eye-catching metallic sculpture in the middle of the plants.

Side tables/bookcases/dressers: Re-purpose vintage china pieces by creating a tea-party inspired succulent garden. Fill the bottom half of teapots and tea cups with stones for drainage. Add succulent potting soil and miniature succulent varieties. Gently tamp down the soil around the base of the plant, and finish the look with decorative stones. For a waterfall effect, drape trailing plants, such as ivy, down the sides of bookshelves or wall-mounted open shelving.

Sofa tables/console tables: Arrange a row of miniature topiaries (less than 15” high) along a sofa table behind a sofa to create an indoor forest or a natural room divider. Group a range of glass domes and cloches filled with eye-catching layers of rocks, soil, moss and plants for a DIY terrarium collection. Allow space at the top of the terrarium for a sense of height and airiness.

Kitchens/dining rooms: On a counter or wall with bright light, consider planting herbs in matching pots or wall-mounted containers to keep in reach while cooking. Pedestal cake stands multi-task as fun kitchen plant stands, adding height and dimension to countertops. Fill your bar cart with a collection of small plants that have similar light and watering needs.

Large spaces: To fill large, high-light spaces, consider displaying trees in architectural planters. For a more decorative look, cover the soil around the base of the tree with moss. In large, open-concept spaces, use rows of potted trees to create room borders and walkways without interrupting the flow of light and air. Want to accentuate a vaulted ceiling? Raise a tall tree even higher using a sturdy plant stand. This draws the eye up and creates a sense of openness.

Small spaces: Add weeping varieties, such as spider plants, into wall- or ceiling-mounted lightweight planters. For an unexpected look, fill glass vases with water and add cuttings, such as Golden Pothos stems, that will grow roots in the water. The clear glass won’t interrupt the flow of light, and you can cut the stems to whatever length works for your space.

Centerpiece arrangements: Use a blooming plant in a decorative container for a classic dining table centerpiece. Group jades and other succulents in glass cloches along with shells or miniature birdhouses for a cottage-inspired coffee table centerpiece.

Walls, windows and ceilings: For a modern twist on a vintage collectable, fill mismatched vintage china teacups with airplants. Arrange them on shallow wall shelves. Create dimension by filling glass spheres or delicate terrariums with air plants and hanging them in clusters in front of windows. For a rustic look, mount staghorn ferns on reclaimed wood bases and hang on the wall.

Minimalist spaces: Bonsai trees add drama and embody a minimalist aesthetic. Trained to grow in a visually compelling way, they add a striking look to console tables, buffets or sideboards. Hang a statement painting above the opposite end of the furniture with the plant to balance the room.

Bathrooms: Assuming you have enough light, humid spaces are perfect for orchids, ferns and bamboo. If your bathroom doesn’t get any natural light, consider faux varieties in decorative planters.

Bedrooms: Frame a headboard with topiaries on each bedside table, or hang trailing plants on the wall or ceiling above each nightstand. For a rustic, farmhouse appeal, fill an empty corner by placing a potted plant on the seat of a vintage wooden chair.

What are your favorite houseplant decorating ideas? Share them with us by using the hashtag #CrateStyle.