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Rooted In Design

A lot of open space can sound like a dream, especially for apartment dwellers, but in reality a large open space can sometimes make a home feel bare and impersonal. For those who have a copious amount of open space in their home, incorporating big, tall, and lush plants into the decor is an excellent solution. There are many beautiful, sizable trees and palms that live quite well indoors. Whether you have floor-to-ceiling windows with bold direct sunlight, or a sweeping floor plan with just enough natural light to read by, large plants add another dimension to the space. They can change the way you approach and use an area by softening the room with their form and color.

We appreciate clean-lined design, but there are occasions that call for something to ease the angularity. What better than a potted plant? It can add visual comfort to right angles, edges, and corners. Sometimes you find yourself with unused pockets of space after arranging your furniture, especially if you've angled the furniture away from the walls. Fill those voids with houseplants to give them a sense of purpose.

If you are using your floor plants to fill a void or soften a minimalist environment, carefully consider your container selections. Used sensitively, they can complement their surroundings, uniting the plant and the layout. Take note of your selected plant's leaves. Each plant will have its own volume, determined by the amount and size of its leaves as well as its individual texture. Also pay attention to the overall height of the plant. Most large floor plants grow six to twelve inches per year. You do not want to place an eight-foot plant in a room with only nine-foot ceilings, as this could only be a temporary arrangement.

In the project to the left, a large Polyscias balfouriana is placed in the corner of a bedroom where it will receive bright, indirect light. The plant's variegated leaf pattern helps to keep the room light and airy while mirroring the look of the wallpaper. The white terrazzo stone container blends in with the room's concrete floor but contrasts with the green, making the plant the clear focus of the white-walled corner. Native to Southeast Asia, the aralia does well in a humid environment where it receives medium moisture or can dry out slightly in between waterings.

In the installation pictured on the next page, we planted a Ficus lyrata in a tall, sleek, solid-white container. Ficus lyrata, known as the fiddleleaf fig tree for its fiddle-shaped leaves, is one of the most popular indoor trees. Native to West Africa, this tropical tree thrives in full- to part-sun exposure and a short dry-out time between waterings. Their big, leathery, waxy green leaves have a remarkably lush aesthetic, complementing a range of interior styles. Here the white container blends into the space, keeping the area clean and open, while the large, dark green leaves of the Ficus balance out the visual weight of the loveseat. Although the leaves of the Ficus are solid and large, when placed in a white container, the plant almost floats above the seating area.

In large, open rooms with low to medium light, you can still house some sumptuous plants. The Dracaena marginata shown on page 67, otherwise known as the dragon tree, is favored for its thin, glossy green leaves with red edges. Incorporate this plant into your home or office as a statement piece—it will feel like a living sculpture. Some specimens have multiple stems emerging from the base like columns, and sometimes a grower will braid the plant's trunks as they mature. You can also find stumped forms, with a gnarled and mature trunk base. Don't worry too much about lighting with this plant, because it does well in low to medium light conditions and can be placed in a central room away from direct sun and windows. Watering is also a breeze as this plant can dry out two to four inches down between waterings.

Plant shown above: Polyscias Balfouriana

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Reprinted with permission from Rooted in Design, by The Sprout Home Company, copyright 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House

Photographs copyright © 2015 by Ramsay de Give and Maria Lawson, Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Lai-Chung Houlihan

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