How to Choose, Grow, and Decorate Indoor Plants in Your Home

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There is nothing like a shelter-in-place edict to really make someone take stock of their home and perhaps consider investing in a few indoor plants. To find inspiration beyond the average windowsill arrangement, we reached out to plant stylist and interior designer Hilton Carter, author of Wild Interiors, and asked him how to create an indoor oasis that’s Instagram-worthy.

For the record, his home contains over 300 plants, so he knows whereof he speaks.


Understand the Light

“Do the research to see what type of light you have coming into your home. For example, if you only have north-facing windows, then you’ll need medium- to low-light plants,” Carter says. “You aren’t going to do any good by purchasing a plant and killing it. Set yourself up for success.” According to Carter, skylights work the best because they offer bright indirect light all day, but nearly any window can work.

wild interiors beautiful plants for beautiful spaces

Hilton Carter designs beautiful spaces filled with plants; he calls them indoor jungles.

Courtesy CICO Books


Pick the Right Plant

Remember when fiddle leaf fig trees were the coolest thing on the block
(followed by the jungly monstera plant)? Carter has a few predictions for the “It plants” of 2020—ones that are also easy to grow. “I just love the watermelon begonia,” he says. “It does really well indoors and they add wonderful color and texture to the home. Plus they propagate really easily—just snip off a leaf, set it in water, and it will begin to grow roots to be replanted.”

Another plant he recommends is the crocodile fern, which requires more water than most plants (it should be watered every three to four days), but it “grows really large” and can definitely benefit from everyone’s new work-from-home schedule. For people who are literally seeking the new fiddle leaf fig, try ficus altissima. “It is literally one of my favorite ficuses right now, it’s a beautiful tree,” Carter says.

Tip: Plant dimensions are listed in terms of pot size, not plant size. So a small plant will be anywhere from a two-inch pot to an eight-inch pot.


Find the Spot

plant book indoor plants at home

Place plants at different heights to create layers in the home, plant stylist Hilton Carter recommends.

Courtesy CICO BOOKS

“The idea is to create levels throughout your home like a photo: tall in the back and short in the front, Carter says. “People tend to push plants right up against the window, but you’ll appreciate them more if you spread them throughout your home. Then it starts to feel like an indoor jungle. I like things to be unexpected. Hang them on the wall—staghorn ferns are really great for that—put tension rods up in your skylight and use the plants as a beautiful screen, build a floating shelf, try hanging plants. Instead of a bouquet of flowers on your table, put a philodendron tree in the middle, almost like a canopy over you. I also have this fillable lamp that I used to create a terrarium inside and that can be a fun project.”


Gather the Right Accessories

Carter loves to find vessels, from old ceramic vases to vintage jars, at flea markets to use as planters. He also recommends a pair of sharp shears for trimming, and a designated watering can. “Any cup can do, but it’s best to use the same one so you know exactly how much water each plant needs, and a long spout is good for watering hard-to-reach plants.”

Tip: Set alarms on your phone to remind yourself when to water your plants.

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