No great living room is complete without plants. If you haven’t quite figured out how to place your plants in the living room, here is a guide to all of the best plants for the living room, and all of the best, most unique and smart places to arrange them.
It’s not always easy to find the right place for house plants in the living room, you want to strike the right balance of scale, be considerate of their light exposure, and yet make sure they don’t block any natural light coming into the room. I love using different levels of placement, from hanging on the ceiling, to the table, to the floor, in order to distribute them across the space and make it feel like a lush greenhouse. As well as being beautiful and decorative, houseplants have a number of benefits to your home. They can be great for removing toxic agents in the air through air purification, your indoor plants can also improve your health, and sharpen your focus if you have your plants in an office or classroom environment.
How do you get the most from your plants? Well one of the clues to keeping your houseplants happy, is in the placement of those plants within the home. Plants, in general, can withstand warmer or colder climates, and a surplus or shortage of water for a short period of time. However, if you want to get the best from your plants, you will need to place them somewhere they will get the water and nutrients in the right climate in order to survive.
If all that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. You don’t have to figure all of that out on your own. Head to your local nursery or garden center where you’re picking up your indoor plants and ask an expert there. They’ll be able to show you the best options for your space and walk you through all the plant care tips you need to know. Before you step foot into the plant store, though, you’ll want to make sure you have a general idea of what you might want for your space.
Not all of us are lucky enough to have an inherent green thumb, and with so many different species, styles, and combinations, introducing them to your decor is intimidating. But don’t worry, aspiring plant-people. To help you (and myself) get more comfortable with plants as decorations, we’ve put together this guide to arranging plants in your living room. There are very different types of plants, in shape and size and texture, meaning each type will have a different sweet spot in the living room. Let’s first take a look at some of the best varieties of plants for the living room, then by size, how they can be optimally placed for them to thrive, and look great!
Best Types of Plants for the Living Room
1. Snake Plant
If you need a plant that thrives on neglect, here you go! It’s almost impossible to kill this plant. With dramatic upright spikes, the snake plant will take low light (though it prefers moderate light, if possible). Let it dry out between waterings. It has long deep green shoots that are pointed at the end, and on the thick side. They stand up great on their own, creating a tall and dramatic effect that can work great as a floor plant or in a plant stand.
2. ZZ Plant
Shiny, waxy-looking leaves make the ZZ Plant a striking addition to any dark corner of your living room. Yes! It can take dark corners. It’s one of the hardiest houseplants around, surviving even if you forget to water it for a few weeks. In fact, water only when the top few inches of soil are dry. This one has beautiful bright green stalks and leaves, with thick stalks and smaller leaves shooting out on either side.
3. Peace Lily
Peace lily’s shiny leaves and interesting spoon-shaped white flowers add style to any setting. They’re fine with low to moderate light conditions, but they bloom better with bright light. Let the soil dry out between waterings. This plant is wonderful because of its flowering leaves, that shoot up gorgeous white Lillies. It will add that extra little spark to your living room, while at some times of the year looking like a beautiful, but normal house plant. The name is a bit of a misnomer: Peace lilies are not true lilies (plant family Liliaceae), but a member of the Araceae family that also includes colocasia, or elephant ear. Otherwise, in terms of growing and care, peace — as in calm and tranquility — is pretty much what you get.
Pothos is the best hanging plant, for its ability to drape down into the air creating beautiful tendrils that fill the ceiling space with texture and greenness. You almost can’t kill pothos! It looks fabulous in a hanging pot or letting its long vines drape down a bookshelf. It does best with moderate light but will tolerate low light conditions, too. Let it dry out between waterings. The pothos plant is considered by many to be a great way to get started caring for houseplants. Since pothos care is easy and undemanding, this lovely plant is an easy way to add some green in your home. Pothos are also great because you can clip off parts of their leaves and stems, plant them in water, and then transplant them to soil to create another full Pothos plant. This can be a really simple and cheap gift to give to people.
5. Moth Orchid
My mother has an incredible collection of Moth Orchids that fill her home and backyard. These delicate-looking orchids, also called phalaenopsis, are hardier than their dainty appearance may lead you to believe. They can bloom for months and live for years! Give them bright, indirect light. Water once a week until water drains out of the bottom of the pot. They are also incredible because they can grow in just about anything. Their roots do not need soil, so they can be elevated in the air, or planted in stones, or even plastered to a tree branch. In the living room, they make a stunning coffee table accessory.
6. Norfolk Island Pine
These delicate-looking pines have soft needles and need bright light and slightly moist soil to thrive. Don’t let them dry out or they’ll drop branches, which won’t regrow. First thing to keep in mind with the care of Norfolk pines is that they are not cold hardy. They are a tropical plant and cannot tolerate temperatures below 35 degrees F. (1 C.). For many parts of the country, the Norfolk Island pine tree cannot be planted outside year-round. It also needs to be kept away from cold drafts. Small, young Norfolk Island pines are perfect for decorating mantles, tabletops, and desks. As this long-lived houseplant grows, it’s becomes better situated as a floor plant and can be used to fill bright corners, flank furniture (such as entertainment centers), or stand alone as a stunning focal point.
Best Places to Arrange Plants in the Living Room
1. In A Corner on The Floor
Large plants are often low maintenance and make great statement pieces. Try placing a potted large ornamental plant on the ground by the sofa, a window, or in an awkward corner. Everyone has that one awkward corner in their living room where a larger piece of furniture just doesn’t fit. That’s because it’s perfect for plants! Transform your awkward corner into a cozy plant nook with a larger floor plant or a combo of smaller plants of varying heights and pots. If you don’t want all of your plants clustered on the ground, use a bar cart to turn it into a corner shelf.
2. On A Plant Stand
I love using plant stands to elevate plants from the floor, but still let them stand alone, tall and robust. This works great with larger plants, that are potentially a little shorter. You can raise them from the ground, but still give them their own distinct area. Whether that be in an otherwise empty corner, or more integrated with the furniture in the room.
3. Beside the Couch
If you happen to have a side of the couch that doesn’t have a table on the end of it, placing a plant there can be a great way to frame the couch and make it feel like a cozy haven. A standing plant can even create some visual privacy, if you want to create a little reading nook or area to write.
1. On A Side Table
If you have a plant that’s too large for a shelf yet not quite big enough to leave on the floor, turn a table into a home. Whether it’s a dining table, coffee table, or end table, plants make great centrepieces. It can make side tables feel like they serve a purpose, Instead of them sitting there empty, with a flat blank tabletop. If, however, you already have a lamp on the table, you can play with scale, complimenting the lamp with a smaller plant, or if it’s a smaller lamp, with a larger plant.
2. On An Armoir or Mantle
If you have a purely aesthetic fireplace, turn it into a home for plants. Use larger plants for the base and smaller plants for the mantle. Even if your fireplace is functional, medium sized plants can fit on the mantle and drape down over the edges, accentuating the fireplace while giving the long tendrils of the plant space to breathe and fall down naturally. The armoir, on the other hand, can also be a great spot for a medium sized plant. You can mix the plant with books, small sculptures, bowls, or anything else you like to decorate with. This is a lot of fun, because you can always play with the arrangement and design. It’s a low cost easy way to tweak and make updates to your home! Intentional displays of plants and art are becoming a huge trend in minimal decor, and with reason: You can take a few treasured items you really care about, blending them together into a composition that itself becomes art.
3. Hanging From the Ceiling
Plants of all sizes have different visual weights. By selecting plants with tall leaves, you can draw the eye upwards, while a trailing plant on a high shelf will guide your gaze to the floor. Hanging plants are back in style, but it’s essential to find the best spot. Don’t hang a plant where tall guests can bump their heads. Be sure the plant is safely anchored, preferably not above a walkway or easy chair. You’ll also need to water the plant, so consider how the pot drains. Use your imagination. If you have space, set plants on the rungs of an old ladder or on top of a cupboard. Remember that heat rises so plants in high spots may require more water. This keeps their floor and walls from being visually overcrowded, and the hanging plants serve as a nice contrast to the dark beams and exposed brick. I also love the kitchen cut-out here—and how its ledge has become yet another spot for plants.
1. On the Coffee Table
Small plants make perfect living room decorations, especially in groups! They’re easy to showcase in a terrarium with sand, small pebbles, and precious jewels. Cacti and succulents are ideal because they’re low-maintenance and easy to care for. Choose low-maintenance plants like cactuses or other succulents if you have a busy schedule and not enough time for gardening work. These little furry plants are so cute and come in a million different varieties, all with incredible personalities! They make a great decorative piece on the coffee table, adding texture and vibrancy. If, however, you have small children, it may be better to place these spiky little guys on a floating shelf, and leave the coffee table for something without the potential to impale curious hands.
2. On A Floating Shelf
When decorating your shelves with plants, don’t designate them as the plant shelves. Rather, treat them as shelves that happen to have plants on them. Offsetting your books and trinkets with plants adds visual texture. Trailing plants are a shelf favorite, as they can drape down to lower levels, leading your eyes downward. Wall shelves are a great space-saving option no matter what you’re trying to display. Thanks to the numerous options on the market, you won’t have a problem finding some that fit your style. Hanging planters and wall-mounted pots provides additional spots for greenery, too.
3. On a Bookshelf
Why not break up an open layout with a backless bookcase full of plants? This unit uses mostly vertical space, saving room in the smaller space. Plus, it gives you so many surfaces for plants with plenty of sunlight access, and it still keeps the whole space feeling airy and bright, too. These days, bookshelves are more than just a storage solution for your ever-growing collection of titles. In fact, they’ve become certifiable style moments that more often than not double as the focal point of a room. In a small space, one may take on a multitude of roles — bar cart, home office, and media center, to name a few. In a slightly more spacious setting, one can rise to new heights as a wall-to-wall construct that transforms a living room into a dream library. When decorating these shelves, we often outfit them with framed art, sculptures, decorative vases, and other tchotchkes. And when all is said and done, we may filter in a few potted plants for good measure. If you’re going for a maximalist, boho-inspired finish, more is always more, while a cluster of three plants will completely suffice in a modern, minimalist scheme.
Now, finally, let’s look at some of the best types of pots for displaying your beautiful plants in the living room!
Best Types of Pots for Living Room Plants
The pots that host your plants are as much a decorating tool as the plants themselves and are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles. Add another dimension to your decor by mixing and matching different pots, adding an extra decorative layer to your space. Suspend hanging planters to add verticality to your living room. With small planters, it’s possible to maintain a variety of plants that add verticality, color, and texture to your living space.
1. Hanging Pots
Hanging plant pots come in so many different beautiful designs. There are ones in metal, with geometric frames, to leather ropes with rattan pots, even to poured concrete ones. The world is your oyster with this, have fun with it and choose whichever one speaks to you most. From space constraints to pet safety to pure aesthetics, there are so many reasons why you might want to hang plants in your home. I’ve spent my fair share of time up a ladder with a drill in my hand. It can be a fun DIY project, whether you want to create the hanging planter yourself, or just install a pre-bought one.
2. Ceramic Pots
This is the most classic plant potter, which can come in so many different styles, from traditional to hyper-modern, depending on the glaze finish and the shape. Some have texture on the outside, while others are smooth. You can go for something that is warm and earthy, without a glaze on it, just plain earthenware, or you can opt for something with a sleek shiny white finish. Some plant pots come with small wooden or metal stands, which can elevate them wherever they are, creating visual diversity from other items on the table.
3. Glass Pots
This option is less common, but can be really interesting. While some plants will do just fine in a sealed glass vase or pot, like the orchid, others do really need irrigation at the bottom. So, try not to just repurpose a vase as a plant pot unless you know your plant will perform well without drainage. However, if you find a glass plant pot, it can be such a beautiful way to display your plant, sometimes even showing its roots, which can be so awe inspiring in their own right.
4. Wicker or Rattan Pots
For those looking for a laid back and casual look, with rich textures and warmth, rattan and wicker are great materials for a plant pot. If you are a fan of interiors and styling, you might have noticed that all things rattan, cane and wicker made a pretty big comeback last year. These materials were ubiquitous in classic 70’s interiors and I’m sure you’ll have come across those wicker peacock armchairs in your local thrift store or charity shop over the last few years. Rattan and wicker come in all kinds of tones and patterns but the one common trait is that they will all add warmth to your interior because of a combination of their natural texture and colour. As the photograph above shows, pairing different tones together creates a warm ‘glow’ of colour that makes the green of the plants really pop. I would focus on sourcing a few pieces that work well in your space so that things still feel more modern.
With all of the plant placements I have given here, one important factor to remember is light. It is essential that each plant gets the right amount of natural light for its thriving, or you can supplement it with a grow light. A lot of plant labels will say they need indirect light. You might be wondering what ‘Indirect Light’ means, it just means that the plant never has a direct line of sight of the sun. You can place these plants slightly to the side of a window, or in front of a semi-transparent curtain or blind, or position it slightly away from the window such that it doesn’t actually get direct sunlight rays. The reason that a lot of indoor plant requirements say ‘Indirect light’ is that placing them directly in very bright light will cause the sun to burn their leaves.
The living room can be just lit up and made so vibrant with the addition of beautiful plants. If you’re just starting out, or just adding more plants to your already blooming collection, I hope this guide has given you plenty of ideas to style plants in your living room, creating a warm and rich environment to relax and enjoy the space with. If you want to browse more photos to get a better idea of how they will look in the living room, check out our article on 32 Lively Rooms with Houseplants.