The Best Houseplant for Your Home, According to Your Decor Style

published Nov 4, 2020
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You can choose houseplants for many different reasons: You like the way one looks, you’ve heard a particular variety is hardy, or that a certain kind is pet-friendly. Maybe it’s a matter of size or how fragrant something is or isn’t. The list goes on and on, but when was the last time you thought about how a plant might jibe with your decor?

Anything goes when it comes to greenery. No matter what you buy, it’s always going to add color and life to a space. That doesn’t mean, however, that certain species can’t, say, enhance the look of your special mix of furniture, decorative accessories, and art. Your decorating point of view is unique, and the plants you bring into your home can play up your design aesthetic. 

To find plants that won’t cramp your interior style, I reached out to some of the greatest of the greenest: florists from all over the country. Even if your decor or architecture leans a bit eclectic and straddles a few of these categories, this is a good place to start honing in on the flora that’ll accentuate your favorite features about your space.

Mid-Century Modern: Monstera Deliciosa

The mid-century modern (MCM) aesthetic came to define the post-World War II response to industrialism and blurred the lines between functionality and form. Sleek, clean-lined silhouettes, paired with neutral tones and pops of colors like mustard, orange, and aqua, reflected both a metropolitan sensibility and a growing influence of nature. Think streamlined sofas with simple, tapered wood legs; plastic shell chairs; plain-front cabinets—all easy-care pieces for really living in your home.

For these types of spaces, florist Mallory Browne of Mallory with the Flowers recommends a Monstera deliciosa, also known as a “Swiss cheese plant.” According to Browne, the holes in the lobe-like leaves play with negative and positive space, which makes for a graphic addition to any mid-century home. “Monsteras also benefit by soaking in all of the natural light from large mid-century windows,” she adds.

Hollywood Glam: Agave

Your decor lies somewhere between a lavish pool party look, with lots of lush palm prints and black-and-white stripes, and a ritzy hotel lobby, covered in mirrors and lacquered furniture. According to florist Fernando Kabigting of FDK Florals, plants to help you keep that glam vibe going include overhanging palm trees, graphic monstera, and the iconic, lush bird of paradise.

A more unexpected but equally dramatic pick, though? Indoor agave plants, with their multilayered rosettes of unique, spiney leaves that end in sharp points. “They’re slow growing and flourish in containers,” says Kabigting. “Given agave plants originate from warmer climates, they’ll need direct sunlight to stay happy year-round.” One additional thing to note, however, before you double down on this plant is that it sadly isn’t particularly pet- or child-friendly.

Scandinavian: Snake Plant

The Scandinavian home is synonymous with simplicity, light woods, and typically lots of white furnishings. For that reason, florist Zenia Ruiz of Flor del Monte suggests something that meshes with this minimal, low-key look, and her pick is the snake plant, predominantly for its striking lines and chill vibes.

“Snake plants have a clean, architectural shape and are great, low-maintenance indoor plants,” says Ruiz. “Indirect sunlight is best, and make sure to extend the time between watering. Set in a white planter and wooden stand, they’ll be perfect in a Scandinavian-styled living room.”

Memphis/’80s: Pothos

Bright colors, bold patterns, quirky zigs and zags: The design sensibility of the Memphis school, an Italian design group led by Ettore Sottsass, is a little bit of pop art and a little bit Art Deco. As such, if you’re into the ’80s revival going on in design right now, your home might be best served by greenery that’s a little more subdued in its form, like the humble but super easy to care for pothos plant.

“Fun leaves that vine like pothos’ complement the colors and shapes of this era well,” says florist Ellen Duong of QIdeas. In fact, the curvy leaves offset the geometric, often cartoonish motifs and pastel palette characteristic of this postmodern design style.

Traditional/Classic: Bird of Paradise

With symmetrical, solid furniture, soft textiles, and pretty moldings, Full Bloom by Lauren prescribes with the bird of paradise. “A bird of paradise is one of the most traditional yet regal plants there is,” says Hill. “It can fit with any style and has been around forever. It adds a timeless, classy feel to any space.”

To set the tone in a traditionally decorated interor, Hill suggests placing a large bird of paradise near the entrance of a home. “Everything else plays off of that, if it’s large enough and placed in a prominent spot, like in a foyer or right as you enter the front door,” says Hill. “You can’t go wrong with one.” Honestly, for the sake of symmetry, you might just want to go with two in terra-cotta planters to flank your doorway.  

French Country: Fern

“For this style, I immediately want something a bit airy and vine-y,” says Hill of her pick for French country, decor that’s generally defined by white-washed woods, neutral colors, and farmhouse touches like galvanized steel and weathered stone. “I suggest a fern placed in a large urn on a mantel or credenza over a fireplace or even a super vine-y philodendron that’s low and will grow down the front of a table, maybe even near or in the kitchen.”

Both of these plants are pretty delicate yet sturdy, adapt well to a variety of environments, and can certainly be placed in hanging planters, too, if you want to work your vertical space. “They will help create that farmhouse vibe and will make the environment super inviting,” says Hill.

Cottage: Lavender

“Cottage homes evoke warmth and comfort, so we love the idea of potted herbs,” says Ruiz, citing lavender and rosemary in ceramic vessels. “The subtle fragrance is perfect for a charming cottage home.”

Ruiz says to make sure to place these kinds of herbs in areas “with rich sunlight” and prune them as needed so they can thrive. “We’re picturing a sun-drenched kitchen for these lovely plants,” she says.

Industrial: Fiddle Leaf Fig

If stripped-back interiors furnished with recycled materials sounds like your style, then try nestling in a fiddle leaf fig. It’ll enliven and soften your space while complementing the sleekness of all those raw finishes you love to decorate with, from salvaged wood to concrete.

A taller fiddle leaf will echo exposed beams and lofty ceilings, but even a shorter version of this species can add a lot to your space. “The leaves will give some nice color that usually balances the browns and grays that are popularly utilized in this style,” says Hill. She recommends putting your tree in an empty corner “so that it’s a nice surprise” upon entering the room.

Coastal: Palm 

According to Ruiz, warm breezes and abundant light come with the coastal style, and majesty palm plants fit right in—and thrive—in that kind of environment. Even if you don’t live near water, this plant will feel at home in a space decorated with lighter woods, soft pastels, and natural textures like seagrass, jute, and rattan.

“Placed in a soft, woven basket, the majesty palm is a great plant to welcome your guests into your home with its tall, abundant palms,” she says. “Give this beauty bright, indirect light and a little more water than most indoor plants to keep her happy.”

The Apartment Therapy Plants vertical was written and edited independently by the Apartment Therapy editorial team and generously underwritten by Greendigs.