Updated February 26, 2022 by Mark Marino
Arranging your indoor plants is an incredibly relaxing activity that you can take very seriously if you want to. Nothing is stopping you from just placing your plants wherever you want, but very quickly after you begin placing them deliberately you will begin to see just how many disciplines go into arranging them.
This is why so many cultures have such deep studies of decoration. The ancient Greeks had aesthetics. The ancient Chinese had Feng Shui. Even medieval churches were designed with some sense of particular order. So, how do you arrange indoor plants? There are a lot of ways to do it.
The most common method of arranging your plants is by making a “green thumb corner”. This combines beauty with practicality, as it basically involves nothing more complex than placing your plants by a room’s window in order to give them sunlight and dedicated space.
This is just one method, but it is almost certainly the method of organizing plants that you will try first. It allows the plants to not overlap with any other decoration. That advantage is also a downside, however. A green thumb corner means that the room is heavily asymmetrical. How do you fix that?
How Do You Arrange Indoor Plants Symmetrically?
There are two ways to do this. The first is by considering the elevated flat surfaces of the room you are trying to arrange your plants in. These spaces will usually be placed with some consideration towards symmetry since they will be placed with consideration towards seating.
If the seating is symmetrical, then the flat surfaces and tables will be. If they are symmetrical, then your plants can be too, as you just need to arrange the plants on the flat surfaces of the room.
The second way to achieve symmetry in the arrangement of your plants is by simply using the floor as your flat surface. This method requires taller plants to really be practical, otherwise, it will just look like you left a plant lying on the ground randomly. But if you have tall plants, then the method of the flat surface becomes impossible.
Should Plants Be Arranged Near The Center Of A Room, Or The Sides?
This is actually a rather complex question. Or rather, it can be if you overthink it. There are three readings of this question: The strictly scientific reading, the aesthetic reading, and the Feng Shui reading.
The best place to start is scientific reading, as it is the one people are usually the most invested in. This way of looking at the question asks another question in response: Will plants die if they are in the middle of the room, away from the windows, where there is less sunlight?
The answer is no. In fact, there are plenty of plants that prefer indirect sunlight. Smaller plants especially are accustomed to receiving light on the floor of a forest, where taller trees only allow them small amounts of light. Too much light on these smaller plants will result in them losing chlorophyll in their leaves.
When a plant loses chlorophyll its leaves lose their green hue, and sunlight becomes harder to absorb. This means that a plant with a tan is not long for this world. In short, keep these plants close to the center of the room, where they will be further away from the windows.
If you want an aesthetic answer to this question, consider the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Part of the reason for these gardens’ legendary beauty was the all-encompassing feeling of how plants were arranged. The Hanging Gardens were constructed such that sitting in them felt like sitting in a room constructed from plants.
There would be plants above, creating a canopy of green, as well as plants hanging heavily to the sides. Of course, there would be grass at your feet, cooled by the shade of the great trees all around you. This completeness is what Greek aesthetics aimed for. Not a space was left wanting for plants.
Essentially, the aesthetic response to the question of whether to place plants in the center or the sides of a room is to do both. Do not let your plants go unnoticed, as they are there for a reason.
Feng Shui has quite a different answer, however. Feng Shui considers the balance between five elements: Earth, Fire, Water, Wood, and Metal. All of these are in a constant state of conflict and compromise.
Every element has two allies and two enemies, and the purpose and feel of a room is defined by what element is given an advantage by the presence or absence of these allies and enemies. As you might have guessed, plants are an embodiment of Wood, which is supported by Earth and Water.
When elements are perfectly balanced in a space, that space’s Feng Shui becomes “Auspicious”. This means that it benefits the energies of the beings within it, supporting the cultivation of self and the growth of the soul.
Plants have the most auspicious Feng Shui when they are away from the windows and near the doors of a room. This keeps them away from the sun, a strong Fire element, which would consume them. This does not mean you should block the sun from entering the room though, as its presence is required for balance.
A room that is in imbalance has “Ominous” Feng Shui. Ominous Feng Shui is not always a bad thing; if the room you are decorating is meant for work, for instance, an imbalance towards Earth or Fire can benefit motivation, while an imbalance towards Water can benefit focus.
But a living room or a bedroom should be kept Auspicious if you can help it. Each element can benefit a form of meditation, but Auspicious Feng Shui is the only Feng Shui that allows for the kind of serenity that a living room or bedroom should provide.
Arranging your plants is a simple task. But look a little deeper than the surface, and you will find that you are doing more than just placing plants about your room. You are, in fact, cultivating a living space and all the living things which reside within it.