If you buy a piece of art, you make a space for it. You don’t just put it where there happens to be a spare space on the wall. The same can apply to plants. Large, bold plants can be used as a focal point and be regarded as a key feature in a room, and the same consideration of their placement should be made to show it off your living artwork to its best advantage.

Making a statement with plants

Most rooms in a house have a focal point of some form. It might be a television set or a fireplace or even a piece of art. A focal point draws the eye, so if there isn’t an obvious focal point, or if the one you have is something that really ought not be focused upon, then a plant would seem to be a good alternative, but it needs to have enough of a presence to draw the gaze to it.

Using bold plants is also a good design tool. Careful placement of a large plant, or one with a very defined form or distinctive colour can completely change the appearance of a room and can even make a room seem bigger. They can also change the atmosphere, a few large plants can make a room feel calmer (and less cluttered) than an array of smaller plants.

What types of plant can make a statement?

Tall plants

Tall plants make a very clear statement. Most houseplants are quite small and tend to be placed on surfaces, such as windowsills, tables, sideboards, and so on. This often means that they are looked down upon, and are also pushed to edges of the room, as that is most often where the appropriate surfaces are found. That can give an appearance of clutter, and also counter-intuitively, make the room seem smaller. This is because the effective boundaries of the room are brought closer to the middle by the width of the plants, and plants on windowsills foreshorten your view to the outside and features in the landscape.

By using taller houseplants, with foliage closer to eye level, and placed on the floor, the place where you put the plant is more defined. You are purposefully placing your plant on the floor, rather than trying to accommodate it somewhere with a space big enough for it.

One other feature of some tall plants is that they are often quite slim. Plants such as Dracaenas or vining plants trained up a moss pole (e.g. our Large Devil’s Ivy), for example, don’t take up too much floor space as their foliage is quite compact.

dragon tree lemon limedevils ivy on moss pole
Images: Dracaena ‘Lemon-Lime’ and large Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)

Density of foliage

Some plants draw attention to themselves by the bulk of their foliage. Large, luxuriant leaves give a plant real presence and don’t fade into the background. This makes them real focal points, and they deserve to be given the space to be displayed on their own.
Good examples include the Furry Feather plant (Calathea rufibarba), the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) or the Buddha’s Hand (Alocasia cucullata).
Calathea plantzz plantAlocasia cuculatta

Plant colour and patterns

Some plants really stand out due to the colour or patterns on their foliage, and they are often best displayed against a dark-coloured wall, such as a feature wall. This is analogous to hanging a painting. When choosing how to display art, you think about the frame, the mount and often the colour of the wall. Curators of art collections in galleries and museums take great care in choosing the background for their paintings.
A really good example of a plant with colourful leaves is a variety of Croton called ‘Mrs Iceton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Mrs Iceton’) which has the most spectacular foliage in shades of yellow and pink. A plant like this will also benefit from some lighting that can accentuate the colours of the foliage against a dark wall.
croton mrs iceton
Image: Croton ‘Mrs Iceton’ against different dark feature wall background colours

Where to use big plants

Living rooms

The living room is the place in your home that you spend most time in (or at least most waking time), so this is the obvious place to display the living art that is a statement plant. Living rooms are usually also the most flexible in terms of organizing space - they tend to be large and with few immovable features. 

Hallways

Hallways are good places to make a statement of welcome. This is the first place a guest will see, so why not greet your visitors with the sight of a beautiful plant (instead of a pile of shoes and school bags, which you might be able to hide behind your nice, big plant).
Hallways are not always well lit, so make sure you choose a plant that can cope with low light levels. However, if you have a porch (and if it doesn’t get too cold) you might have some extra light available, so you could use something interesting there too.

Conservatories

Like living rooms, conservatories have few immovable features and are often a good size. Furthermore, they are designed with plants in mind and have great light. This means very many plants can flourish. What better way to make the purpose of the space apparent than by using bold, statement plants, such as palms, rubber plants and weeping figs, which among the best plants for conservatories.
Kentia Palmrubber plantweeping figficus bonsai
Images: Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana), Rubber plant (Ficus elastica ‘Melany Petit Mangrove’), Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina ‘Variegata’) and Ficus ‘Ginseng’ (S-shape)

Using plants to dress a property

The housing market in the UK is booming at the moment and sellers are in the driving seat, but first impressions still matter when trying to sell a home. Old tricks such as the smells of fresh coffee or bread, or a carefully placed bowl of limes can all make a place feel more appealing, but what better way to show off a house than by having some well-placed and beautiful houseplants to guide the eye towards desirable features, and make the your property seem homely.
When spending several thousands of pounds on estate agent’s fees, legal costs and removals, the relatively small additional investment in some top quality plants might make all the difference to a sale (and, of course, you can take them with you to your new home).

Benefits of big plants

As well as the visual impact made by large, statement plants, there are several other benefits to be had.

Longevity

Large plants tend to live longer. This is because they have established healthy roots and have plenty of built in reserves. They can manage fluctuations in their environment and can be more durable than younger, smaller plants. If you buy a large plant, it will have spent years growing under near perfect conditions on a nursery and will be in excellent health when you get it.
Most homes cannot provide the optimal conditions required for growth, but as long as you have a stable environment and give it the conditions we recommend, they will last well. However, as more mature plants, they won’t grow rapidly, so you don’t have to worry too much about having to make more space.

Greater resilience against pests and diseases

Big plants are also better able to fend off the effects of pests and diseases, and it is often easier to manage pests on larger plants as any control measures you take (such as trimming infested foliage) will have less of an impact on the plant as a whole.

More impact on the indoor environment

Big plants have bigger, healthier roots and live in bigger pots. This means that they have a greater impact on the indoor environment. There may be improvements in some aspects of indoor air quality, and there may also be some noticeable acoustic benefits too (bigger plants, large leaves and large volumes of compost all absorb sound quite effectively).
Value for money
The headline price for foli8’s largest plants may seem high, but what you do get are large, long-lived healthy plants that will give years of pleasure as well as creating a centre of attention wherever you put them. One large plant is very often more plant than three smaller ones costing the same total amount, and you only need to buy one pot too.
How to show off your specimen plants to their best advantage
If you are investing in statement plants, it makes sense to display them to their best advantage. Give them some space and don’t crowd them among knick-knacks or lose them in a crowded room. Your statement plants are like precious ornaments and works of art, and they deserve to be seen.

Pots to make the statement even bolder

At foli8, we have curated a collection of pots that can really add the finishing touches to your plant display. From contemporary to traditional, there will be something that will not only look good, but will perfectly match the size of your plant.

Pots are beautiful objects in their own right

Many of our plant pots are beautiful in their own right. Modern ceramics in a wide range of colours, along with planters made of less conventional materials can be picked to go with your chosen plant and to complement your decorative style.
Images: a selection of foli8 pots to show off your plants to good effect

Add height with plants

Earlier, we discussed how taller plants, viewed at eye level, can really make a statement - the plants become part of the room, rather than another object in the room.
Some plants are naturally tall, such as dracaenas and vining plants trained up moss poles, but others may need a helping hand to get their best features the attention they deserve. This is where your choice of pot can make a difference.
Pots with legs, or supported in wooden stands are very popular at the moment. They not only lift the plant, but they also give a sense of lightness. Instead of a bulky pot sitting on the floor, light and air pass below the plant as well as around it.
Dracaena marginata in an elevated pot
Image: Dracaena marginata in an elevated pot

Lighting for impact as well as function

As well as providing the energy needed for photosynthesis, lights can really make your plants stand out against their background.
Unlike functional lighting for photosynthesis, accent lighting need not be too intense, and small low-powered LED lights are ideal to shine on the foliage and even cast interesting shadows through the plant onto the wall behind. The beauty of modern lighting is that it is easy to create interesting effects for very little cost.
By Kenneth Freeman

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