“Green” has long been a part of my interior design. I have grown probably hundreds of different varieties of tropicals and houseplants, from African violets to zebra plants. Exotics such as orchids and bonsai also make up a part of my current collection. It makes me sad when I hear people say they have a brown thumb, so I’ll share some tips to help turn that thumb green as well as fun and practical uses for plants in your home or office.
NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE
Besides their beauty and the wonderful living energy plants bring to a space, there are practical reasons for including plants in your decor. Beyond the quantifiable benefits, there are advantages to growing plants that are purely intangible and psychological. The presence of healthy plants in your home or office actually has been shown to lift the mood and spirits of the occ
upants. Houseplants brighten every room with their rich color and vitality. They have been shown to reduce stress, produce a sense of calm, and are thought to promote creativity.
Plants are beautiful, but they are not just a pretty face; they are actually workhorses for the improvement of indoor air quality. Plants continually remove pollutants such as ammonia, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and benzene. They further promote well-being by continuously absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen. The direct health benefits are significant, especially in the winter when the air is dry. Plants increase humidity through transpiration and remove dust, thereby reducing the incidence of coughs, colds, sore throats, and related illnesses. Plants need to be kept in premium condition to be pleasing aesthetically and to effectively contribute the benefits described.
Healthy houseplants transform every space, but with some planning they can fulfill specific purposes in your interior design. Their strategic placement can create a needed focal point, draw the eye to a certain location, or add a pleasing color-coordinated accent. Houseplants can be used to produce a specific theme or mood: a relaxing, peaceful setting; a natural feeling perhaps blending with a view outdoors; or a reminder of a tropical vacation paradise.
For planning purposes, consider that plants either contrast with or blend into the surrounding walls and surface colors. Each scheme produces a different mood and effect. A tranquil feeling is achieved through use of a monochromatic or analogous color scheme, where walls/surfaces and foliage color are similar or close to one another on the color wheel. Contrasting colors, especially bold combinations such as complementary colors, produce outstanding results. These striking effects are further enhanced by choosing dramatic plants such as those with spiky, elongated or variegated foliage. Lighting and shadows can enhance and multiple the drama.
Plants look stunning when arranged in mixed groups, achieving lovely contrasts of color, form and texture. Groupings of like or contrasting plants can also be used to create screening and privacy. Fabulous contemporary and architectural statements can be produced when multiples of the same plant are grouped in an array or geometric display. Multiples can either be planted together in a single, perhaps rectangular container, or they can be in separate matching or complementary planters. Hanging planters take advantage of the vertical spatial element if floor space is limited. For all of your plantings, containers play a key role in the design.
Coming up… part 2
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