Do you ever go on Instagram and get jealous at how amazing some people's shelf plants are? #Plantshelfie used to be the bane of our existence until we learnt a few tips and tricks that allowed us to curate the perfect plants for shelves.
Following just a few simple rules and your potted plants will add a whole new dimension to your room. It might seem simple, a lot more goes into it than may you think! Keep reading to find out how to arrange the perfect indoor shelf plants and some tips on how to care for them.
Our top 5 rules for plants on shelves
# Rule 1 - Choose the right shelf
There are many things that go into choosing the perfect plants for shelves. The first question to ask yourself is what shelf will you use? It doesn't need to have direct sunlight, but it should still be in a bright place. Depending on the plant, it will also want to be able to spread and grow so it needs some wiggle room. And lastly, will you be able to reach it to water it regularly? Choosing the right shelf is a skill in itself.
# Rule 2 - Arrange them well
There is no right or wrong when it comes to placing indoor shelf plants, but there are ways you can make it more aesthetically pleasing. Having different pots and containers can really add new dimensions to your shelves. For example, these cute Sweet Pea Pots come in three different sizes and look amazing.
There is a design concept called the ‘rule of three’ which is an excellent rule of thumb go to by. It means you can either place three of the same pots and plants in a horizontal line, or you can put 3 pots and plants of different sizes in a cluster. The rule of three mimics nature, as you don’t typically find symmetry and evenness. It makes your arrangement more natural and aesthetic.
# Rule 3 - Rotate, rotate, rotate!
Houseplants that sit on your shelf need to be rotated every few days or so. This is so that all parts of your indoor shelf plants get exposed to the sunlight. If you don't rotate them, only one side of your plant will get the sunshine it needs and the other half will start to wither away. If you struggle to remember, a good habit is to at least rotate them every time you give them water.
# Rule 4 - Give your plant a saucer
Shelf plants generally need a small plate or saucer to prevent water damage and also to help them keep hydrated. There is nothing worse than when some of your favourite books get covered with water from the houseplant above. Plants for shelves on the higher levels also tend to dry out a bit quicker, so make sure to check the soil every few days.
There are other options available if your shelf isn’t big enough for a saucer. A good alternative is an absorbent mat or even placing the plants on a long tray. Opting for a pot without drainage holes is also a perfect solution, but make sure to not let your plant sit in excess water.
# Rule 5 - Small plants work best
The best plants for shelves fit in amongst your clutter. Bear in mind that a lot of plants will want to grow and spread their leaves so avoid placing them somewhere that they will eventually have to be moved. Plants for shelves need time to adjust to their surroundings, that’s why it's always best you get it right the first time and find them the perfect permanent place.
Our favourite plants for shelves
1. Philodendron Micans
Philodendrons are one of the best indoor shelf plants because, well, look at them! It’s gorgeous! The heart-shaped leaves will grow and trail over your bookshelves, great if you have space near the top.
Philodendron Micans are rare trailing plants from the tropics of South America. They’re very low-maintenance and easy to grow. They enjoy bright and indirect light (direct sunlight can burn the leaves.) They’re sensitive to overwatering, so just give them a sprinkle when the top 2-3 inches of soil have dried out. These plants are toxic to pets, so it’s best that the leaves don't touch the floor where they can get to them.
This fluffy little plant is one of the best plants for shelves. It’s so small so can fit in loads of different nooks and crannies. It’s also very low maintenance, just make sure it gets plenty of indirect sunlight.
A native of South Africa, this fern is very fast-growing and needs frequent watering. Just make sure to follow these few simple steps and you will have an indoor shelf plant that will thrive on any shelf in your home. Just make sure to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Reduce watering in autumn and winter. And lastly use a liquid feed once a month in spring and summer. Easy peasy!
3. Calathea ‘Triostar’
These Calatheas have dense foliage full of different colours so they’re one of the best plants for shelves if you're trying to jazz your room up. They’re also known as a ‘prayer plant’ because at night, the leaves will fold together like praying hands.
They are native to rainforests so they like a lot of light (but only indirect otherwise they will lose the unique markings on their leaves). For water, just make sure their soil stays moist. They purify the air as well, so would make another great addition to your bedroom.
4. Snake Plant Laurentii
Also known as the ‘Mother-In-Law’s Tongue’, this Snake Plant is is a great choice when looking at plants for shelves. Its beautiful green leaves shoot upwards making it great when you don’t have much room on your shelf.
This is a very low-maintenance plant that will thrive almost anywhere. We all have that shelve space where we would love to put a potted plant, but it’s so tucked away that it wouldn’t get a lot of sunlight. Well, this is the plant for that space!
Also known as Baby Tears, this beautiful evergreen is made of thousands of lush green leaves. It’s one of the best plants for shelves because it grows fast and spills over the side of the containers on whatever shelf you put it on. It loves bright indirect away and needs to be kept away from radiators.
If you are the type of person that loves fussing with a plant, then the Pilea Depressa is the one for you. It’s great for pruning and rearranging. In the summer it may bloom small flowers as well. What’s not to love?
6. Golden Pothos
The Pothos is another beautiful plant that is ideal for the bedroom. It grows very fast and will trail down any shelves you place it upon. It also purifies the air from toxins, especially formaldehyde, making it a great addition to your bedroom.
Like most other indoor plants, it likes a bright area with no direct sunlight and it just needs watering when the soil is dry. In other words, the Golden Pothos is very forgiving. You can’t go wrong with this one. A good contender in the best plants for shelves!
7. Dischidia Oiantha
Yes, I know it’s hard to pronounce, but what's in a name? A picture paints a thousand words, and as you can see, the Oiantha is stunning! We really have saved the best until last. This hanging shelf plant is truly one of a kind. The leaves will cascade over any shelf you place them on, and really will make a statement.
Oianthas are notoriously easy to care for: water when the soil is dry and keep away from direct sunlight. Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned veteran, this plant is a must-have for green thumbs. It’s truly a top contender for the best plants for shelves because its vibrant foliage is one of a kind.
One final word…
Indoor gardening really has skyrocketed over the last few years, and it’s easy to see why. So many more of us are working from home and it’s easy to become alienated from nature. By surrounding ourselves with plants they really do wonders for your health, both physical and mental. Not to mention they add a whole new vibe to any room.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what are the best plants for shelves. It’s best to follow the five simple rules when you can, and choose the right plant for the right spot on your shelf. In our opinion, the more the merrier!