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Put some flower power in your home design  1 Month ago

Source:   USA Today  

The possibilities are endless

Plants and flowers in your home’s entry greet guests with beauty and a calming welcome.

That first sight provides a “connection to nature and helps you slow down and settle in,” she explains.

A fiddle leaf fig is an option that looks great solo and when grouped with other greenery if you want to add more plants later. “Fiddle leaf fig is the trendiest indoor plant right now and the darling of interior designers everywhere,” says Claire Akin, founder of the San Diego-based Fiddle Leaf Fig Resource. It thrives in a bright space with filtered light.

Clean air

One of the great benefits of plants is that they pull toxins out of the air, including the chemicals released by furniture, carpet and paint in our homes, says Gates. When we’re not breathing in those toxins, we’re happier because we feel better, Gates explains.

“A golden pothos is especially great because it pulls formaldehyde out of the air,” Gates adds, referring to the fast-growing house plant. And they’re easy to find at local nurseries or “at a big box store like The Home Depot.”

Fiddle leaf fig plants also remove toxins in the air, release oxygen, increase humidity and reduce fatigue, colds, headaches, coughs, sore throats and flulike symptoms, according to a 1989 NASA study on how well interior plants abated air pollution, Akin adds.

Consider putting air-purifying plants in the bedroom to clean the air where you sleep, too. Chapman suggests sansevieria, or snake plant, any type of ivy and chrysanthemum.

Although mums don’t last long, “their effect is really beautiful,” Chapman says, and they “rated really high on the NASA study.”

Attractive arrangements

When you have several plants, “group them in threes for a really strong effect,” Chapman advises.

Threes are engaging, effective and efficient, whether you’re positioning plants, arranging furniture or grouping other objects, Chapman says. Trios are pleasing to the eye, and they create a powerful and a memorable structure, she adds.

Make plant arrays more visually interesting with varying sizes, shapes, textures and colors.

Chapman’s “easy recipe”: one light, fluffy and “airy” plant, such as an asparagus fern or maidenhair fern; one draping plant such as a Hoya, spider plant or vine; and one plant that’s bold and structured such as a sansevieria. “Those combinations look really nice together,” she says. She also suggests incorporating varied colors including shades and tones of greens.

“When you’re arranging your plants, you want the effect to be cohesive, comfortable and pleasing to the eye,” Chapman adds.

Blooming boost

Enhance your morning mood by placing flowers or flowering plants in your bedroom or bathroom.

Gates likes to keep cut flowers on her desk because she feels the fragrance will “lift your chi,” or personal energy, elevate your mood and make you feel better.

“The smell is important, but so is their beauty,” Gates notes. “They light us up when we see them.”

You might try potted jasmine, gardenia and orchids such as the trailing cymbidium and “Sharry Baby” oncidium to add sweet fragrance, Chapman suggests. Although orchids require different care than most plants, she says they’re not as demanding as one might think.

“Orchids are great,” Gates agrees. “They’re very popular in feng shui because they have a royal energy and gentility, so they’re great for boosting money,” she adds.

According to the bagua, or feng shui energy map, “the back left corner of our homes represents the energy of money,” Gates says, adding that if you put a money-boosting orchid in a money-boosting location (the back left corner of your home, room or desk) “in a spot where you’ll see it all the time, it will help magnify that (money increase) intention.”

Aromatic herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage and basil scent the air and add beauty to any room, whether in tiny pots or larger containers. They’re great on windowsills and shelves and also work well in hanging baskets or wall-mounted containers.

The right light

 “When you boil it down to the essentials, plants are fairly easy to take care of,” says Eric Westerduin, a green walls industry expert and co-founder and partner of Suite Plants, a living walls company based in New York City. “They need light, water and carbon dioxide.”

The latter two are simple, Westerduin says. Plants get CO2 from air, and you provide water as needed. Light “is where most problems happen,” he says.

In general, Westerduin says, colorful and blooming plants fare better in more light while plants like ferns that naturally grow under forest canopies prefer shadier spots. Think about where the plant naturally grows, he suggests. A cactus that thrives in the 110-degree heat of a cloudless Arizona desert isn’t likely to thrive in a dusky corner of your home or an entry subject to cold air blasts in winter.

Find the right plant for the right lighting conditions. “You can buy a simple light meter on Amazon for $15,” Westerduin tells customers.

Use it to check the light before you put in a plant “and save yourself a lot of headache.”

“You can always bring in LED lights to help,” but Chapman says “if your plant needs a super sunny window, don’t stick it in a dark corner. You can test its limits but don’t go to extremes.”

Plant a wall

Plant-covered picture frames and walls create beautiful living works of art.

First used commercially, living pictures and green walls have been used in hotels, airports and offices for about 15 years, says Westerduin.

Living pictures are the easiest way to get started, Westerduin says. You’ll find many different units available that vary in ease of installation and care.

In addition to being a good option for families with small children and pets because it’s mounted high on a wall and out of reach, Suite Plants’ LivePicture system is easy to maintain, Westerduin says.

“All you need to do is add the plants, hang it on the wall and add water,” he says.

“It’s as simple to put up as a picture frame.” (Mounting hardware is included.) No electrical connection or water supply is needed. Each unit has a built-in watering system that holds enough water to last four to six weeks. “You only need to water it about once a month” using the provided funnel, “and you’re good to go,” Westerduin says.

The company’s newest line, LivePicture GO, comes in gray, black, white or red to add a color accent to the wall-mounted plant “pictures.” Textured frames are coming soon.

Ready to go bigger? Cover a wall with plants for a stunning display.

Green wall systems can be used to cover a difficult-to-decorate space, enhance privacy, buffer noise or break up open space.

The systems made by Suite Plants come in different sizes and applications, including LiveDivider, a freestanding indoor room divider that holds plants on both sides, LiveHedge ivy walls for the garden and LivePanel Green Wall modular units that protrude fewer than 4 inches from the wall, need no waterproofing, require no structural support and are do-it-yourself easy to install.

“It doesn’t matter how much space you have. The important thing is that you should always incorporate plants in your life because they just make you feel better, whether it’s flowers or plants or small trees,” says Gates.

“You don’t have to have a jungle,” says Chapman. An abundance of plants is great but fewer is fine, too. You could have (just) one or two plants in your house.” The plants you do have should make you smile, help calm you, clean the air and look beautiful, he adds.

The right flower or plant for you may not be ideal for someone else and vice versa, so choose plants you love, says Gates. You’ll know you’ve chosen well “when you walk into that space and think ‘I just love having that flower or those herbs or that tree here,’” he adds.


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