Lifestyle Trends: Designing with Tropicals - Part 1 of a 3 part series

Mar10th 20146 comments

Enhance your home with beautiful foliage

We all know the benefits of having plants indoors, but choosing plants sometimes can be difficult. Knowing where to put which plant and how to display it makes a huge difference! Here are some tips to help make the process easy and fun.

Using cactus and succulents

Cactus and Succulents

Succulents look great in any home. Because this category of plants contains hundreds of varieties, the choices range all over the map. Succulents can be found in an array of colors ranging from eggplant, lavender, pink, sage, blue and contrasting stripes, just to name a few. Here is a small sampling of the wonderful world of succulents that are available. Some varieties here include echeveria, jade, aloe, kalanchoe and aeonium. When doing a mixed grouping like this, keep the pot consistent. In this case I chose terra cotta because by far, it is the pot that works best with succulents. In fact, any unglazed pot looks great, there are many kinds of clay and stone pottery available. Not only is clay classic, it is a breathable material, allowing the soil to dry out faster than a glazed pot. This not to say glazed cannot be used, just be sure to choose a pot that has a drainage hole.

The monochromatic look

Keeping plants and or pots in the same color family gives a nice effect.

Orchids, indoor hydrangeas and fittonias paired with button ferns

Here we have a grouping of orchids, indoor hydrangeas and fittonias paired with button ferns to add a little green.

Stone boxes against the soft texture of oncidium orchids

This collection of stone boxes against the soft texture of these 'twinkles' oncidium orchids has a subtle, yet dramatic effect. The echevaria featured here add a more saturated color to the mix.

Visual contrast

Yellow oncidium orchids against a purple backdropIf you have a brightly colored wall in your home, this is the perfect setting to add drama and a wow factor with plants! Orchids are a great option because they are tall and come in an array of colors. Here we have yellow oncidium orchids against a purple backdrop.

Air plants paired with a birch tube, lichen and some mercury glass ballsThese air plants are super easy to care for and can be used almost anywhere. Here I have them paired with a birch tube, lichen and some mercury glass balls. This display would work well on a coffee table as a seasonal feature.

Strength in numbers

Repetition and consistency can be very effective.

Maidenhair fern in a faux bois stone pot

Here we have a maidenhair fern in a faux bois stone pot. A window sill or dinner table look great with one pot and one plant lined up along it

Several of the same type of fern and a grouping of another element

This version is several of the same type of fern, but also includes a grouping of another element. This fun collection of 'melted' vases adds color and shine against an otherwise matte backdrop.

A collection of pottery in different shapes and sizes is great for a larger space

Having a collection of pottery in different shapes and sizes is great for a larger space. This can be all of one type of color, or in this case, all terra cota. Because there are many varying shapes involved, its better to keep the plant part simple with one or two types of plants.

Stand alone feature piece

Silver dollar maidenhair in a stone urnThis silver dollar maidenhair looks stunning in this stone urn. The large leaf scale adds a dramatic effect and is the right size for this urn.

Xerographica stiff, slightly fuzzy gray leavesThis is one of the larger air plants known as 'xerographica' it has stiff, slightly fuzzy gray leaves. Because it can get up to 12" across, it is large enough to be featured on its own, and has the perfect shape to be happily situated on a table or mounted in a shadow box on a wall.

Visual interest through patterns and texture

Calatheas, begonias and fittonias

Calatheas, begonias and fittonias, oh my! this striking collection is absolutely mesmerizing. Also included here is a prayer plant, a cryptyanthus and an alocasia.

White blooms of bromeliads are a striking contrast against the dark rex begoniasThe creamy white blooms of these bromeliads are a striking contrast against the darker leaves of these rex begonias. there are also another type of bromeliad on the ground with a beautiful hot pink center.

Creating vignettes

This collection of plants combines height, color and contrast

Any place like an empty corner or table is a great place to create a grouping of plants. Here I have grouped together two plants stands in different heights. This collection of plants combines height, color and contrast. The leaves of the clivia are long and narrow against the rounded leaves of the begonia. "Peacock' selaginella adds visual interest as well as the fittonia with its interesting pattern. A miltonia orchid also compliments the look by adding contrast to the orange flowers of the clivia and begonia. This collection would also look nice with a large floor plant behind it.

This post is the first of a 3 part series
Part 2 Lifestyle Trends: Designing with Pottery
Part 3 Lifestyle Trends: Designing with Accessories

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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...


Great work, looking forward

Great work, looking forward to then next part of this blog series.

Awesome displays and pictures

Awesome displays and pictures... I will be making a stop to the Brighton location very soon!

Blog post question

Sara - Great blogpost and I LOVE the terracotta and fern vignette. Do you also have large indoor plants, and what about ivies? Thanks!

large indoor plants

Hi Regina,
Yes we have some floor plants for all different light levels. Bird of paradise, bamboo palm, arboricola, rubber plant and dracaena just to name a few. We do have some ivy, but not hanging baskets. We have english ivy and algerian ivy, which has a larger leaf than the english.
thanks! Sara

Very informative

This is a great series. I am sharing it with my students at NECC. Thank you!

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