“Travel” with Plants: How to Make Your Home Feel Like a Tropical Oasis3 min read

Don’t have the budget for an exotic vacation? If there’s anything we’ve learned from the pandemic, it’s that when you can’t go anywhere, it’s even more important to create a refuge in your home. 

One way to do that is through plants. Bringing a bit of the outside in can instantly boost your mood and remind you of your favorite things. 

But there’s a difference between sticking a couple of spider plants in a window to using plants to make your home feel truly transported. Here are some tips to make the most out of decorating with plants. 

Go Bold

Did you know that the majority of North American houseplants are natives of the global south? That’s because houseplants are chosen for their ability to thrive in a warm weather climate. If plants that need winter were sold for indoor settings, people would be stuck with an empty pot of dirt for months of the year. 

This means, when looking for houseplants that give vacation vibes, you have hundreds to choose from. Rather than looking up regions of origin, choose plants that you find evocative. What says summer paradise to you? Is it a palm with arching fronds? A monstera with bold, designer-like leaves? A fan-like bird of paradise or a spiky dracaena? Plants with colorful leaves, like calatheas and crotons, can also lend a tropical, otherwordly feel to a space. 

When you’re buying a plant, don’t go by the tag. Google its light needs to get a clearer sense of whether the plant will survive in your space. Place them near windows and if they don’t do well, rotate them to a different spot. If you are clustering several tropical plants in one room, consider adding a humidifier to mimic the humidity of their home conditions and add to your rainforest feel. 

Go Big

When purchasing plants, you might be tempted to spend less money on the smaller ones—especially if you are on a budget. But if you are trying to change the look and feel of your space, you can achieve this more easily with a few large statement plants than you can with a million tiny ones. 

And while it’s great to have plants in all different sizes, if you buy large plants, you’ll wind up getting small plants, too—from rooting pups and cuttings of leaves that fall off, and from exchanges. Plant people love to trade and are quick to gift cuttings to other plant lovers. So take care of large plants, and trust that the small plants will come. 

If your budget is really tight, hit up the big box stores. Home Depot and Lowe’s have a good selection of large plants for reasonable prices. You can also look for plants that aren’t at their peak. If it has a droop or yellow leaf, you might be able to talk the sales clerk down to a lower price and then nurse the plant back to full health. Another route: look for a plant group on Facebook, and keep an eye out for low-price sales and trades. 

Go With a Staggered Style 

Sure, it’s practical to stick a bunch of plants on a table by a window. But if you want to give your space a balanced, lush look, you should stagger your plants. Whenever possible, hang vining plants next to the tops of windows. The leaves that trail down can freshen up a blank wall. 

With some extra work, it is also possible to add plants to corners and rooms where natural light doesn’t seem to reach. The key is to make sure that you are still giving them some sunlight. Place those plants on carts, so you can roll them into the sunshine at least one day a week. Or add a grow light beside them. When you want to relax in a decorated space or when company arrives, you can return the plants to their corner spots, turn off the grow lights, and enjoy being surrounded by greenery. 


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