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Bringing Garden Design Indoors

Apply some principles of garden design to your houseplants for a great winter display.

To make winter pass more quickly, many gardeners tend a few houseplants. You can make a dynamic indoor display by choosing and placing your houseplants with the same eye you use for your outdoor garden design. Try to match up plants' needs—don't pair a shade lover with a full-sun plant just because they look good together—but keep in mind that indoor plants are much easier to rearrange than those in the garden, if something isn't faring well.

Peace lily

Use color echoes for a serene look. Choose plants with similar color details and place them in combination with each other. For instance, choose an ivy with white-and-green variegated leaves and a white-flowered peace lily.

Use contrasting colors for a bold look. Plants with contrasting colors will make your home feel bright and lively through the winter. For example, pair a purple-flowered African violet with a yellow-or orange-striped croton.

Stage plants for depth of interest. Instead of lining plants up on the windowsill, use tables, plant stands and ladders to vary their height. Use pots of different widths and depths to your advantage here, too.

Mix up forms. Choose upright plants, trailing plants and mounding plants for a dynamic display.

Make a focal point. Choose one large or architectural plant, such as a large ficus or a spiky agave, to stand alone as a strong statement.

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Learn all about growing plants indoors with The Houseplant Encyclopedia.

Keep favorite, classic houseplants healthy with Complete Houseplants: Featuring Over 240 Easy-Care Favorites.

Brush up on design basics with Designing Your Gardens and Landscapes: 12 Simple Steps for Successful Planning by Janet Macunovich.

Browse all books and gardening gifts at