When you have limited space in an apartment or small home, decorating can be a challenge. Oftentimes, tradeoffs are made to create something both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
One area that often gets overlooked is greenery and plants. With limited space, it can be tempting to ignore this aspect of design. I, personally, find that to be a huge mistake.
Plants add an extra dimension of color and life to any design and are essential in more ways than one. Having a small space doesn’t mean you can incorporate them, you just have to get a little creative. In this article, we’ll look at some of my favorite tips for designing small spaces with plants. By the end, you’ll hopefully have some ideas to incorporate into your designs.
Walls are fantastic for hanging photographs and artwork, so why not use them for plants as well? There are a few wall-hanging possibilities, so you can manage the space you have however you like to complement your other décor. Wall-mounted shelves are great options, and there are also wall-mounted planters available.
Regardless of the option you choose, be sure to check the lighting requirements for your wall-mounted plants. Doing so allows you to place them as close or far from a window as needed. Care is always your number one priority, so keep that in mind as you go through the rest of these tips.
Hung From Ceilings
The ceiling is an often forgotten area of the home, which is why it is the perfect place for plants. Add some hanging baskets to rafter-style ceilings or screw them into the studs beneath the painted drywall. Hanging containers can even be looped over pipes or hung from brick, adding greenery to your home without overloading your floor space with decorative pots.
Many high spaces are often used for decorative items, so adding plants to those areas is a phenomenal way to give them new life. Consider the top layers of bookshelves, the spaces above cabinets, or even high mantels for your favorite plants. It’s best to place the ones that don’t need high levels of light and water in these areas since they are often out of reach or outside of high-sunlight areas.
Not every window will have a ledge large enough to hold a planter, but wider sills are the perfect spot for your favorite greenery. You can even choose the right window for each plant, placing those sunlight-loving plants on a south-facing window ledge and those that need minimal light on an east- or west-facing ledge. The larger the window, the more space you have to work with, so you may even be able to fit an array of plants along one ledge.
Limited floor space doesn’t mean you can’t place a plant or two between your other furniture and decorative items. Of course, you’ll need to choose your plant carefully to ensure a comfortable fit. Taller plants are best, though stick with slimmer options instead of bushy plants that require wide areas. For instance, the snake plant has tall sword-shaped leaves that grow straight up.
If you don’t have room for multiple plants, you can use those with trailing vines to create the illusion of more greenery. Choose plants that grow quickly and strategically place them around your home. One option is placing a plant near a window so the vines can extend up the side and along a curtain rack to hang down the other side. Plants like ivy work great for this.
You can also place these plants on shelves where the vines can spread along the surface or loop around the frame. Trailing plants can even go in those ceiling- or wall-mounted baskets, allowing those vines to drape as they see fit.
If space is extremely limited, you may only have room for a single plant. When this occurs, you need the right plant to bring the room together. Choose one that fits the available space and has the detailing and appeal to draw the eye. A good option is the Fiddle Leaf Fig, which features a tall, slender trunk and large, glossy leaves. A Bird of Paradise is also eye-catching, thanks to its tall stem, dark green leaves, and bright, spiky flowers.
Your statement plant doesn’t need to be a large tree-like specimen. A compact Juniper Bonsai has a distinctive look and can be shaped however you like to accentuate your home. It is also small enough to fit on a coffee table or mantle.
Small plants fit almost anywhere without taking space away from your other necessary items. You can tuck them in a corner, on a shelf, or end table. Regardless of their location, they still add a touch of life to your home. You can likely fit two or three small plants where a single larger one will go, giving you more room to add a variety of plants.
If you prefer small plants requiring minimal care, succulents are a fantastic choice. Options include String of Pearls, Jade plants, Aeonium, Haworthia, and Aloe. There are also a variety of cacti to pick from, including several flowering species for more color. You can also try other plant types, including African Violets, Anthurium, and Lucky Bamboo.
Creating groupings of plants is another exceptional way to create a jungle feel in a small space. Choose plants of varying sizes, with smaller plants layered around a large central piece. You can even add options with varying foliage colors and sizes, adding a flowering option or two to the mix. Using plant stands also helps alter the heights of the plants, elevating some for a unique look.
3 Plants For Small Space Designs
We’ve looked at various tips for using plants in your small space designs, but what types of plants are best for this? Below, you’ll find our top 3 picks that each brings something a little different to your own. Each of the below is also easy to grow, so they’re perfect even if you’re relatively new to gardening.
First off, we have a group of plants, herbs. There are lots of different herbs to choose from, but in general, they all make great choices for small spaces. Most herbs can be grown in small spaces in containers as small as 6”.
The main thing that most herbs need is a good amount of light. Most will need about 6+ hours per day. Outside of this, herbs are easy to care for and require little maintenance. Our favorites for small spaces are chives, but others like rosemary or dill are also great options. Think about which herbs you’d use the most in cooking to get the most benefit from your plant.
Another great indoor plant, the ficus takes up a bit more room than herbs but is still quite easy to grow. Ficus plants can grow several feet tall, so they can make an excellent statement piece with their bold leaves and colors.
For a more subtle look, you can also grow the bonsai ficus. This plant requires a bit more maintenance, but that’s half the fun of growing a bonsai tree. With proper care, you can keep this plant fairly small, while also looking neat and tidy.
Our last pick is another group of plants, namely cacti and succulents. There are hundreds of plants in this category, but many require similar care. In particular, cacti are popular due to their low water requirements. Some varieties can go up to 2 months without water, so they can be very low-effort plants.
There are lots of cacti and succulent varieties that are quite small and can be grown without taking up too much space. Most hardware stores will also sell them year-round, which makes it easy to start growing them.
Designing Small Spaces With Plants
It’s tricky trying to design a small space to ensure you have everything you need without limiting comfortable movement. Rather than skipping plants when organizing your layout, incorporate them using the space you have available. Picking the right plants and adding them to often ignored spaces allows you to add some greenery and life to your home for a more welcoming atmosphere.