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  • Thrive & Co

The Power of Plants in Modern Interior Design

Plants are often an afterthought in interior design. And the more bad experiences you have with plants (in other words, how many of them die in your care), the less likely you are to incorporate them into your design plan. However, we know that plants make us happier, helps us recharge and even be more productive.

Using plants in modern design is even more of a challenge due to its clean lines and simplicity. Nature, on the other hand, tends to be wild and unrestrained. However, that doesn’t mean modern interiors need to forego greenery. There are ways to bring plants into the design that is equally as important as the other accessories in the room.

With clean lines and neutral palette, accents like throw pillows, credenzas and wall art are complemented by the vivid greens of the plant varieties placed throughout this bedroom.

Cacti fit into a modern environment readily given their geometric forms. Cacti can be used to create a mini-landscape into one ceramic pot, which is useful for small spaces and apartment living. Sand and stone can bring in some earthy elements and serve as a base for the various cacti shapes.

The Dieffenbachia plant is a special variety with lime green leaves that look like they have been splattered with a dark green paint. They add a gorgeous modern art texture to any space.

Some of the plant elements will call for simplicity so as to not overwhelm – multicolored succulents in an open white ceramic bowl with warm wood base is a great option, for example.

A glass terrarium is portable and an easy element to move around during certain times of the year. Glass is a great design element for plants, as it allows for light and doesn't feel as heavy as some planters can, which is an important consideration in small apartment living.

Another often overlooked place for plants is in the kitchen, and there’s nothing more satisfying and convenient for a home chef than picking herbs right from their own garden. A small herb container next to a kitchen window will make the most of the light and bring edible plants into the mix like Lavender, Basil, Thyme and Oregano. The container would also small enough to set on the counter during cooking.

The Alocasia, also known as Elephant’s ear, prefers indirect light which will also show off the fan-like corrugated leaves perfectly.

This modern planter would act as a welcoming element into any open living space. With its linear lines, the planter is a perfect home for a Snake Plant or Jade, which are two of the easiest houseplants to maintain. The lines of the Snake Plant draw the eye up and out of the planter and most backdrops will show off the variegated leaves. Jade plants soften whole looks while adding another textured element.

Great Modern Design Plants and Care

Plants can be as interesting as a work of art, and apart from the obvious design aspect of the process, it’s important to know what's going to live in a space and what is manageable maintenance for your lifestyle.

Here are 10 great modern design plants with tips on how to keep them looking their best:

1. Jade

LIGHT: Jade Plants prefer moderate light to a high indirect light level

WATER: They require low water, making it good companion for the Snake Plant. Allow the soil to dry out almost completely in between watering.

Jade can be pruned to keep a nice compact shape. Be sure to also remove and dead or dying leaves / stems.

2. Miniature Ferns, Polka Dot Plant, Mosses, Dwarf Palms and Begonias (Terrarium Plant Set)

LIGHT: Low light to indirect bright sunlight is the ideal location for these plants while indoors.

WATER: Requires well-drained but moist soil with plenty of organic matter. The Fern loves to be misted.

3. Dieffenbachia (A great “beginner” plant that lasts for years)

LIGHT: This plant appreciates good indirect ambient lighting .

WATER: Give this plant plenty of water during the summer. The soil should be moist, but not wet. March through October – feed every other week when watering using liquid plant food like the one here. Reduce watering during the winter months with NO fertilizer.

Dieffenbachia prefers a well-draining soil or an African violet soil mix would work well too.

4. Succulents

LIGHT: They require about four hours of indirect to direct sunlight daily.

WATER: As a general rule, add water when the top half-inch of soil feels dry. When watering, moisten the soil, but do not soak it. Most succulents need to be watered once every 7-10 days.

Learn more about how to choose and care for succulents with Our Guide.

5. Cacti

LIGHT: Cacti require about four hours of direct sunlight daily

WATER: As a general rule, add water when the top half-inch of soil feels dry. When watering, moisten the soil, but do not soak. Most cacti need to be watered about once a week.

WINTER MONTHS: During this time the cactus needs little to no water. The plant does well with a watering every few weeks.

6. Snake Plant (One of the easiest plants to care for)

LIGHT: The Snake Plant prefers bright light and can adapt to full sun.

WATER: Let the soil dry out between watering and reduce during winter months. They appreciate a well-drained soil or sandy soil.

7. Alocasia

LIGHT: They love bright, indirect light.

WATER: Keep moist all year. They are water-loving plants, so feel free to mist them too.

SOIL: Loose, well-drained potting mix.

FERTILIZER: They can be heavy feeders, especially the larger specimens. Feed fertilizer during the growing season.

8. Herbs

LIGHT: High indirect light.

WATER: Once a week.

9. Fiddle Leaf Fig

LIGHT: Indirect light.

WATER: Let the soil in its pot dry out completely before watering it. Water every 8-10 days and don’t soak the soil, just make it moist.

10. Air Plants

LIGHT: Give them bright, filtered light.

WATER: If the atmosphere is not too dry, they can survive with water misting and the occasional bath.

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