You Can Use Textural Touches and Pattern Play to Instantly Elevate Your Houseplants

updated May 10, 2021
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Love sprucing up your digs? There’s another set of homes you might want to give a mini makeover to: your plants’ places.

Playing with materials and designs on your pots and planters is a fun and easy way to give them a dash of personal style. “Adding pattern or texture to a basic planter or pot not only adds more interest, but also adds some personality,” says Sara Albers, co-founder of the DIY and lifestyle blog Alice & Lois along with her twin sister, Melissa Fenlon.

And you don’t have to be a DIY pro to master the looks below.

A quick heads-up: Note that any specific plants mentioned in this story or any others may be toxic to pets or humans. “Toxic” plants can induce symptoms that range from mild (upset stomach) to severe (possible death). If you have a cat, dog, or kid, make sure you research the plants ahead of time on a reputable site like, or by calling your vet or pediatrician.

Introduce Textures on Textures

It’s impressive how something as simple as tossing a velvet throw pillow onto a cushiony couch can create an interesting textural touch. That same juxtaposition can breathe new life into your planters. For inspo, take a cue from this rope basket planter DIY from Alice & Lois. All you need to make it is plain old clothesline rope and a hot glue gun. “We added some trim from the fabric store to give it a little boho vibe,” Albers says. 

Another perk is that it’s a cinch to decorate with. “This rope planter looks amazing styled on a credenza with a rubber tree plant inside,” Albers says. “Add a stack of books and a brass bowl to finish the arrangement.” 

Transform with a Sponge

“When decorating your own pots, it makes them more special than buying a pot that’s already beautifully made by someone else,” says Paris Hannon of Planting With P. “You don’t have to be an artist to make your own creation!” For example, sponge painting is so easy that it’s practically foolproof, and it’s what Hannon did to revamp this little pot. “Bud vases are my favorite DIY activity,” she says. “We always need a few handy around the home for when you make cuttings. I stippled this vase with a sponge and then applied this technique in different colors that made me feel relaxed. This vase I made to sit by my bed. Anything I put in my room I make sure it gives me comfort.”

Hannon found the bare vase at a thrift shop. “It was definitely a vase that someone made and then just never painted,” she says. “I set up time with my mom to paint pottery. Some places you can bring your own instead of choosing one of the pottery they have on the wall.” First, she washed down the vase with a sponge to prepare it for the glaze and picked colors, opting for earthy tones that are calming, since the hues would go with anything she decided to put in the vase. Then, she applied the first colors with a paintbrush to the inside and the top of the vase. Next, she used a sponge to apply the specialty colors by dabbing on the paint, trying not to mix the colors. A week later, it was ready for pickup. 

Construct a Hanging Planter

With their natural light and natural ledges, windowsills are always prime real estate for plants. But there’s an often-overlooked spot that could potentially use some greenery, and that’s your ceiling. Hanging planters are a great alternative to your standard pots. Plants that need more natural light can simply be hung near a window or glass door. 

Plus, creating your own hanging planter is easier than you think — and a great opportunity to add more texture to your decor. “Another favorite plant project is making a hanging planter,” Albers says. “You can do this with a simple macrame method with rope, or using an unexpected material — embroidery hoops! We tied and glued these together to make a hanging planter that looks so good with a trailing succulent.” Get the complete how-to on her blog. 

Pick a Motif

Different plants have different vibes, so you’ll want your made-over vessels to play off of the greenery inside of them. For example, “sometimes I like to keep my cactus DIY pots a little more simple,” Hannon says. One way she’s done so? By using a black Sharpie and black paint on a terracotta pot.

To create your own version of this look, find an old plant pot you want to make over, and clean it off with a damp towel and let it dry. “This helps make sure when painting — or anything you are using to paint your pot — doesn’t have any unwanted grime,” Hannon explains. “I free hand drew with the Sharpie around the top of the pot and the triangles.” She did about three coats to make sure it was solid, then waited a day to let it dry. Next, she dipped the bottom of the Sharpie in black paint to apply dots all around the pot, then let that dry overnight.

Grab a Paintbrush

If you want to go all in with paint, know that you don’t have to be a super-talented painter to turn your planters into wow-worthy items with a paintbrush. And you don’t have to go with just one color, either. “Adding paint to basic terracotta pots is a favorite way to add color and pattern,” Albers says.

The options are endless when you have a brush and a few different paint colors. “Ideas include taping off sections to give a color block look when adding paint to the specific sections, or painting the pot white and adding splatter paint,” Albers says. “Did you know there is a textured spray paint that can give the pot a unique pottery look?” 

Apartment Therapy’s Styling with Plants vertical was written and edited independently by the Apartment Therapy editorial team and generously underwritten by Greendigs.