Houseplant Styling 101
Carlos Franco, owner of Green Fresh Florals + Plants, breaks down what rooms plants thrive in
Carlos Franco has experience styling arrangements for the royal family and Barney’s in London to his name, plus a decade of owning Hillcrest plant shop Green Fresh Florals + Plants—so he has some credibility when he declares: “Plants are fashion.” Instagrammable fiddle-leaf figs, Monstera, Chinese money plants, and even succulents—he’s seen them all ebb and flow over the years.
Take the latter. “I’m gonna say it, and people are going to kick me, but succulents are going out of style. There’s a pull away from the gray toward more of the green. They’re easier to take care of—I mean, succulents don’t like being inside; they’re basically a cactus—and they’re giving you more of that ‘jungalow’ effect. Even in a modern home, you can bring in more of a green plant and they’ll change a space immediately.”
To that end, his rules of (green) thumb for everyone begin with common sense. First, consider the maintenance you can provide your plant. “Think of it like a dog. Do you have space for a dog? Can you feed that dog every day?” From there, “think about the amount of light a plant will get. It’s the first rule of styling.” Next, consider ventilation and pot size. “Plants will only grow to the size of the pot you keep them in.” Last, consider the fashion, like what leaf shapes reflect the design of your space. “You want to pick something that works with your style.”
Here, he gets to the root of what houseplants fare best in which rooms, with practicality and vanity top of mind.
Plop a container of herbs on a windowsill for primo light—and fresh ingredients.
Ivy can withstand changes in temperature brought on by, say, a stove.
A small, potted bird’s-nest fern, too, is hearty enough to withstand changing environmental conditions.
“Giant birds of paradise give an instant jungalow feel.” They require bright light, but they’re slow growing, so they require water just every two weeks and won’t overtake your space.
Franco’s hottest-selling houseplant, the fiddle-leaf fig, “would rather have more sunlight than less, because they need to dry out in between watering.”
“The Philodendron ‘Red’ is very popular for the color and can handle bright to low light.”
Monstera is hearty enough to handle big gusts of wind and forgiving if you forget to water it.
Dracaena is tall and sturdy for the outdoors.
Schefflera won’t complain about being placed in your darkest corner outside.
“Staghorn ferns love a high humidity environment. If you get a wall-mounted one, you can take it off the wall and give it a shower… in yours!”
Orchids appreciate the humidity in a bathroom.
Placing air plants in the bathroom is like giving them a homecoming—they’re from the subtropics, where they live on rain and humidity.
“Snake plants are one of the top oxygen-producing plants. It cleans your air.” Translation: good for you—and your sleep!
A pothos never minds dangling in a dark corner, plus they don’t need a lot of water.
Bromeliads add a pop of color to your space during the day and don’t mind when you turn off the lights at night (i.e., they need little to no sunlight).
Aesthetically, a Dracaena can add height to a room.
“Hoya is a hot plant everyone is asking about,” especially in white and pink variations.