Living Sculptures: Fresh Ideas for Houseplants
Chicago co-author of Rooted in Design, Tara Heibel shows artistic ways to pull plants out of the corners and into the spotlight.
￼Free form Vines trained to meander around windows or up walls imitate art reliefs and seemingly let the outside creep in. "Everyone should be connected with nature," says Tara Heibel, co-owner of Chicago's home and garden shop Sprout Home and co-author of Rooted in Design. "Bringing plants indoors lets you get your [nature] fix 24-7." Get the look with heart-leaf philodendron or other vines without paint-damaging suckers or tendrils. Guide trailers with finishing nails or removable hanging strips. For instant gratification, buy a mature vine (5–25 feet) or use multiple plants in opposite corners.
Gallery showing In this industrial setting, architectural concrete containers serve as objects of art, the perfect pedestals for the bold foliage of Begonia rex (below center) and Medinilla magnifica (below right).
Stylish composition Take a tip from outdoor containers and mix it up. Combining multiple varieties in one planter takes a little thought. Choose plants with similar light and water requirements. Pick the focal plant first, then add others, from largest to smallest. Composing eye-catching combos like this elephant ear ‘Polly', nerve plant ‘Juanita' and baby's tears takes time. Top dress with sheet moss for a finished look.
Focal points Think of large planters as furniture that can lend textured impact and help define spaces in an open floor plan. Choose containers and plants with personalities that enhance each other and your decor. "Plants give off different feelings and attitudes," Tara says. "Maidenhair fern is soft and calming, while mother-in-law's tongue's clawlike look is better in a linear architectural space." Wanting a restful woodland effect in this space, Tara filled a mix of real and manufactured tree stumps with the dark foliage of Philodendron selloum, mosses, maidenhair fern, slipper orchids and elephant ear ‘Polly'.
Found objects Flea-market finds and weathered heirlooms make intriguing containers. Birdcages, kitchenware-even old globes-are possibilities. Thinking outside the original realm of this vintage toolbox resulted in a showpiece for easy-growing succulents, including Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, crassula, echeveria and agave. "You should always consider a container's shape, style and unique features when selecting plants, but it's even more important in the case of vintage containers," Tara says. "Select companion plants that complement-but don't cover-the container. Give both equal billing."
Green spaces Rooted in Design coauthors Tara Heibel and Tassy de Give make us rethink houseplants-as a cool design element. The book's 100-plus photos include green ideas for any room size and style. See buying information.
Reprinted with permission from Rooted in Design by Tara Heibel and Tassy de Give, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House Inc. Photography © 2015 by Ramsay de Give and Maria Lawson.