Hacks We Learned From Our Favorite Plant-Filled Homes

Your green thumb can be rescued yet.

Photography by Aaron Bengochea

We know, we know: You love your plants. But do you love your plants? As in, no-corner-left-empty, more-plants-than-furniture, you-name-your-greenery love your plants? While the plant-filled lifestyle may not be for everyone, we can’t help but obsess over the homes we see with green spilling out of every nook and cranny. We also can’t help but wonder (Carrie Bradshaw-style) how on earth the residents of these plant-filled homes make it work. Especially when certain members of team Domino (current party included) can barely keep an allegedly un-killable succulent alive for more than a month.

So, we asked them. Between cool, creative ways to display your greenery to innovative hacks they use to keep their potted friends alive, these plant experts did not disappoint. Keep reading for smart tips to steal for your own plants—whether you have two or 22.


Photography by Heidi’s Bridge

Alyssa Hoppe, Prop Stylist and Art Director
As seen in: This Plant-Filled Home Used to Be a Chocolate Factory

Favorite plant: I love smoke bush trees. You can’t really grow them indoors, but someday, when I have a backyard, I would love to plant some. They are beautiful as fresh cuts in flower arrangements.

Favorite way to display plants: Putting plants together on a large bookcase or shelf. Makes the room feel like it has a living wall.

Golden rule of plant care: Not to water them too much. I always stick my finger in the soil, and if there is an inch of soil bone dry, then it’s time to water them.

Tips for prolonging a plant’s life: I use glass watering balls for all my plants, and I find it helps with regulating the moisture of the soil. They are also helpful when you go out of town, in order to make sure the plants stay hydrated.  

Biggest lesson learnt: It’s all about light. Each plant likes a different amount, so figuring out how close or far from your light source [to put it] is key. When I moved apartments once, I was so excited because the new space had so many windows. I put my fiddle leaf tree right up next to the window, thinking it was going to love it, but then the direct sun was too intense and burned a lot of the leaves. [They’re] okay, but just have some dark marks on them.


Photography by Hilton Carter

Hilton Carter, Artist
As seen in: A Historic Cotton Mill Converts into a Plant-Filled Dream Loft

Favorite plant: Fiddle leaf fig.

Favorite way to display plants: Wherever the light is.

Golden rule of plant care: Name your plants. This creates a bond between you and the plant, and makes you more likely to care for it. It’s like naming your pet. We tend to care more about things with names.

Tips for prolonging a plant’s life: The best thing to do is make sure you know the type of plant you have, so that you can give it the right care. Knowing what you have is half the battle.

Biggest lesson learnt: The one thing I wish I knew when I first got started was that your plant will lose leaves the first few weeks when you get it home because it’s trying to acclimate to your space. I always thought I was just doing something wrong and would freak out and move the plant to a different location—which was never a good thing.


Photography by Chelsae Anne Photography

Chelsae Sahlman, Photographer
As seen in: One Couple Turned a 650-Square-Foot Rental into a Plant-Filled Boho Oasis

Favorite plant: Birds of paradise and the rubber tree.

Favorite way to display plants: We love finding unique ceramics and concrete pots with natural patina that complement the shape and size of the plant.

Golden rule of plant care: Practice makes perfect. Really understand how your space and window light will ultimately affect what types of plants you can have, and where.

Tips for prolonging a plant’s life: Pay attention to how each plant is affected by window light differently, and adjust each species of plant to its preferred lighting and water schedule.  

Biggest lesson learnt: That the travel lifestyle doesn’t mix with the plant-filled home lifestyle. Friends get very intimidated watering all of our plants when we are away, and normally give us a FaceTime call.

Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

Miranda Starcevic, Stylist and Designer  
As seen in: A Rainbow-Hued Apartment Redefining French Girl Chic

Favorite plant: I love fiddle leaf trees. I bought mine a couple of months ago. It’s a very fidgety plant, very fragile, and can lose its leaves very easily. I like to say it’s kinda like me. It’ll get moody depending on where it is and how it’s taken care of. Just recently, I traveled to Israel and got to see fiddle leaf trees that were actually 10 feet tall, and it was pretty incredible.

Favorite way to display plants: I love terracotta pots because they are great for humidity and moisture. They also look cool in my apartment. I shop around in Chinatown, [which has] super cute little plant shops where you can find beautiful Chinese decorated ceramic pots. I’ve also just started hanging my plants since I have very high ceilings—I’m hoping they will grow all around!

Golden rule of plant care: My dad taught me how to care for plants when I was about 6 or 7 at our country house in Normandie, France. This was back when he started planting four to five-foot trees in our garden. The main thing he told me was, “They are living organisms; don’t forget about that.” Today, the trees are fully grown and look healthy and tall.

Tips for prolonging a plant’s life: It’s super important to [remember] that plants are alive; they’re not just decoration for your space. You need to care for them in the best way possible. Don’t overwater, clean the leaves because dust collects on top of them and [inhibits] their breathing, repot them if they get too big, and nourish them with plant food and organic bug repellent (aphids are the worst!). I actually think it’s easier taking care of pets than caring for plants. A plant can be very difficult, and they don’t express their feelings vocally!

Biggest lesson learnt: I sometimes forget to check if the plant is healthy. If a plant looks good, it doesn’t mean that it’s in good health. Make sure you buy your plants from someone who takes good care of them. If they’re cheap, there’s probably a reason behind it! Support your local plant shops, and definitely stop buying at Ikea or Home Depot.


Photography by Aaron Bengochea

Carol Miltimore, founder of SEEK Collective
As seen in: This Eclectic Brooklyn Apartment Will Give You Major Wanderlust

Favorite plant: I do have a soft spot in my heart for my morning glories who come back to bloom every year.

Favorite way to display plants: I created a shelf of plants last year, and I’ve been loving that. In my living room, I have a sort of jungle corner of larger plants.

Golden rule of plant care: Pay attention to them—if they are happy in their location with their soil, the amount of sun they are getting, how moist the soil is, how they are reacting, etc. They are living things that react to their environment, and will show you signs.

Tips for prolonging a plant’s life: It really depends on the plant. My cactus, succulents, and large plants do not like to be over-watered, whereas others, such as my herbs—especially in the summer—like water every day. I rotate pots when needed so that the plant grows straighter and doesn’t lean in one direction toward the sun. I also use watering stakes (these ones from Amazon) for my indoor plants that enjoy more water.

Biggest lesson learnt: I was lucky and grew up with a mother who is a garden designer, so I had already learned a lot from her before starting out. My advice to others would be to start small, grow the collection over time, and choose plants that work for the conditions you have.

See more guides on plant care:
How to Care for Succulents (and Other Low-Key Plants)
How to Make Your Flowers Last Longer
Read This Before You Buy Plants Online

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Published on July 25, 2018 - 4:30pm EDT

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