Lifestyle Trends: Designing with Accessories - Part 3 of a 3 part series

Mar25th 20141 comment

For the third and final installment in our design series, this one is all about the accessories. Dressing up your plants and pots!

Plant stands, pedestals and risers, oh my!

Plant stands, pedestals and risers, oh my!

This picture really showcases the diversity and fun you can have with plant stands. A plant stand can really highlight, feature and enhance your plants. Who says they have to be boring? This is my personal collection which includes a two-tiered stand made from the roots of a tree, an old wooden stand I painted a pretty shade of blue, a hand-woven fabric stand from Southeast Asia, a gorgeous copper pedestal and even a slab of petrified wood! There are many decorative metal and wooden stands available in just about any height. If you only need to raise a plant up a foot or so, try a birch tree trunk, we still have a few left at Mahoney's. How about an old crate? Vintage looking stools look great too. For tabletop, I use slices of tree trunks, pot feet, trivets, and stacked tiles just to name a few.

Mosses and stones

This picture displays the many types of mosses than can be used to dress up a plant

This picture displays the many types of mosses than can be used to dress up a plant (or as we call it in the business 'top dressing'). I like moss because not only does it compliment and beautify the plant, it also hides that unsightly soil. Let's face it, after a while soil does start to look kind of old and icky. Moss also helps to retain moisture in the soil. The mosses shown here are no longer alive, and most have been preserved and dyed to maintain their fresh looking appearance. Reindeer moss has a spongy feel and appearance, it almost looks like a type of coral. Its natural color is vanilla, but it comes in tons of other colors as well. It usually stays soft unless it is in dry or direct sun conditions. Spritzing it with water or running it under the faucet will make it soft and supple once more. Sheet moss is flat and a medium green, while mood moss is thick and chunky. Mood moss is the type of moss you would come across walking in the forest, it has a woodland feel to it. Spanish moss is quite interesting because it doesn't grow on the ground like the others, it hangs off of trees in a few of the Southern states. Maybe you have even seen it before in your travels to Florida? Dried Spanish moss is grey and has a shredded look. It also comes in a few shades of green. The plants in this picture are purple oxalis, heather and selaginella.

Stones are great either under a pot or on top of the soil

Stones are great either under a pot or on top of the soil... or both! River stones are large and flat, while river pebbles and small and rounded. They both come in a wide color range. In this picture I have displayed stones both ways. The foxtail asparagus has crushed seashells as a top dress. Stones are also great for plants that have lost some of their older leaves closer to the soil, like my 'jade' philodendron on the far left. This is a great way to simply fill in that extra space where leaves once were.

Using glassware

Glass comes in many different shapes and sizes and looks great when a plant of a similar shape is used

The way I am displaying plants in this picture is by selecting an individual plant, and then showcasing it in glass with pottery, mosses and a few accessories. Glass comes in many different shapes and sizes and looks great when a plant of a similar shape is used. There are two main types of glass for displaying plants: bell jars with saucers, or glass with an open top. This pictures shows both. For bell jars, a slab of slate, a plate or a saucer all work well. Also shown here is an exquisite copper terrarium featuring a lemon button fern. Make sure to use plants with smaller leaves to keep in scale with the container, and not overwhelm it. Here I have chosen baby tears, oxalis, echeveria, kalanchoe and an African violet as suggestions to use with glass.

Saucers 101

This picture shows the same pot with 3 different sized saucers

I see people make this mistake all too often. Selecting the right size saucer is super important. This picture shows the same pot with 3 different sized saucers. On the left, the pot is actually sitting on top of the saucer. Too small. In the middle a little bit of room can be seen. Better, but still a little small. On the right, there is about an inch worth of space between the side wall of the pot, and the inside rim of the saucer. Bingo! This is what you want to aim for when choosing the appropriate size, and feel free to go even bigger if you like. When the saucer is too small, there is not enough room to collect any extra water draining out from the pot, and that can be an expensive mishap on hardwood floors and carpeting. Also make sure to dump out any water in the saucer, as it is not healthy for any plant to sit in water for long periods of time.

The dreaded plastic saucer

Then there is the dreaded plastic saucer. I get the eye roll quite often when I suggest them, but they really aren't sooo bad if you know what to pick and how to use them. Really! And because the pottery manufacturers don't make matching saucers for all of their pots, at one point or another you may encounter the need for plastic. Keep in mind that not all plastic saucers are created equal. Yes there are the inexpensive flimsy ones, but there is also a thicker, more aesthetically pleasing version too. In this picture I have shown the same pot with 4 different saucer options.

On the left is the nicer plastic version, and it can hardly be seen and still shows the shape of the pot. Notice the pretty curve and feet, and it is 5x thicker. Next to it is the same saucer but with a bed of stones. The stones actually detract away from the saucer and add additional texture and humidity. I like using stones in saucers because then it is not necessary to empty out any excess water left over after watering. The pot sits on top of the stones instead of in the water. To the right of that is the inexpensive version also with stones, and I find it is not as 'offensive' with the stones. The far right shows this pot with a matching saucer. Choosing the right saucer is important for both function and aesthetics.

Creativity with plates

Creativity with plates - Use pretty, decorative plates and footed glass bowls

I do not actually own a single saucer for any of my 40ish houseplants. I use pretty, decorative plates and footed glass bowls. This shot is my collection of plates, which include botanical prints, interesting patterns and a few antiques. My favorite places to find plates are Homegoods and Anthropolgie. Because plates are more shallow than saucers, the saucer rule does not apply. Choose a plate that has 2-3" worth of space away from the sidewall of the pot in this case.

A Weathered metal plate holds a carafe, a jade philodendron, a cement bird and a candle

Now that it is officially Spring, this is the latest seasonal display on my coffee table. This weathered metal plate holds a carafe, a 'jade' philodendron, a darling little cement bird and a colorful candle you may recognize from a previous blog post. I like to accessorize with elements around the plant and pot as well, and this 4-piece collection is displayed quite nicely contained inside the saucer. The ramie table runner underneath is a wonderful texture to complete this design. Other elements that are fun to tuck in or display around plants are pinecones, seashells, branches, objects collected from a hike, ornaments, you name it. I have an affinity for birds so I have them nestled, tucked and burrowed into a bunch of my plants. They look so cute peeking out. I can't help myself! Maybe you have a penchant for bunnies, snowflakes or hot air balloons. Whatever it may be, it can be used in and around plants and adds your own personal touch.

Coming home to my little indoor garden oasis every day is an incredible feeling. I feel surrounded by all the things I love, and have created my own happy place. I am imbued by a sense of satisfaction, comfort and contentment. It’s amazing how plants can make you feel that way!

This post is the third of a 3 part series
Part 1 Lifestyle Trends: Designing with Tropicals
Part 2 Lifestyle Trends: Designing with Pottery

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Sara Barrios - Mahoney’s Garden Centers

Meet Sara Barrios, blog contributor and the greenhouse buyer and merchandiser at the Mahoney's Brighton location. About Sara Sara grew up in Woburn and has 21 years experience in the garden center and floral industry around Boston. She is passionate about her job and loves plants...


Very helpful ideas

Look forward to using saucers more creatively and integrating them into the room design. You can't go wrong with the classic look of a book, a plant & a lamp. Thank you for sharing.

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