How to Organise Houseplants

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Organising house plants for most people is easy: a Monstera Deliciosa in the corner, a pothos hanging on the bookcase, a couple of Peperomia and cacti in the window…

It looks all very Scandinavian and cool.

But what about those of us with literally dozens of plants?

I only have a tiny house. Tiny. So I’ve had to get creative when it comes to storing my 80+ plants.

I want it to look somewhat cohesive (theme: plants), but they all need to be fairly accessible because I’m lazy and I’ll abandon them if they’re hard to get to).

Oh, and it’s rented, so I can’t exactly drill holes in the ceiling and hang plants.

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1 – Radiator Covers

You don’t even need radiators.

We removed a radiator cover from the kitchen radiator and moved it up into the office. It’s only about six inches deep, so we keep it behind the sofa bed. It houses three pothos, an aglaonema, and temporarily a Philodendron Golden Dragon, which has been relegated from the living room to make way for the Christmas tree.

It doesn’t take up much space in the room – you could pop one behind your sofa and get a good few plants on it – and radiator covers are cheaper than those skinny tables AND you can use them as actual radiator covers if you so wish.

Etsy have some gorgeous radiator covers, in every style you can think of and a load of price points.

Just don’t keep your plants on radiators that are in use. They won’t like that at all.

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2 – The dining table

Also works for an office desk, if you have one.

I keep a couple of Alocasia on my (tiny, 2 person) dining table. One is just on a saucer, the other is stood on a pot. It’s a massive Alocasia Zebrina and they’re hard to find space for because they have a large spread.

Elevating large plants on items you already have is a great way of displaying large plants that look good but have a tendency of…getting in the way.

I’ve used an old ceramic bread bin (upside down) to put my Zebrina on. It gets the light because it’s up high, even though the dining table is kinda dark.

I’ve done the same with my desk. I have a big desk, with 2 Ikea trolleys on (I use them like filing cabinets – they have three mesh trays apiece) and 2 shelf risers that I use as little tables. All in all, I can store five BIG plants on my desk – 2 big philodendra (who knew that was a word?), a Monstera Deliciosa, a golden pothos, and a Dracaena.

Not bad for a tiny spare room. I’ve got 25 plants in there altogether.

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3 – Side tables

I have an Ikea Lack table (the ones that are about £6) which can hold about 4 decent sized plants and are super easy to move.

It’s especially useful to have small, portable tables in winter, because you might have to move plants from cold spaces, like the bathroom. I’ve had to pack my spare room (because it stays fairly consistently warm) quite densely with plants, and having something to put them on so they can remain *fairly* organised is saving my sanity.

You can also style your coffee table with plants. It would be nice to have an oversized one, so I could play around with putting them on books and styling them properly, but my house is a mouse house, and the only thing that’s oversized is the rabbit.

Still, I managed to put a neon pothos, a monstera adansonii, and a peperomia that’s name escapes me on there. I also have one of those rose gold mirror trays that are very Instagram-aesthetic containing a snake plant propagation, a string of turtles, and a Syngonium bambino.

If you struggle with giving up so much of your coffee table real estate, just tell yourself lies: having plants on your coffee table will prevent you from messing up your living room with clutter.

Plants are not clutter. Plants are family.

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4 – Window sills

I have no north-facing windows in my house (it’s a semi), so every windowsill is prime plant real estate except for the bathroom (too cold) and the bedroom (too shallow really, plus I like to leave the window open to prevent mould).

I’m blessed enough to have a bay window in the east-facing living room, which is CRAMMED with plants in summer. It’s too cold for anything other than cacti and succulents in the winter.

A great way to cram more plants into spaces is to play with the heights. Put pots on books, upturned cups or pots, or just blocks of wood. I also keep some plants (like spider plants) in tall, narrow pots to add a bit of interest.

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5 – Windows

I have a few hanging plants and no ceiling hooks from which to hang them. Instead, I hang them from the horizontal handles you use to open the windows.

You do have to be careful what you hang though – a lot of plants will burn being so close to the window, but they’re ideal for things like string of pearls, which aren’t bothered by a bit of direct sun.

(Bear in mind that I live in the UK, and my experience of direct sun is very different from a Californian’s experience of direct sun).

I also like the idea of using suckers on windows to display plants. I’ve not done it yet, but I have grand plans for next year. My boyfriend keeps a couple of ferns in plastic pots that suck onto the side of his fish tank, and I think I could do the same on the windows.

And you know those birdfeeders you can get to stick onto the windows? I bet you could use those to display plants. Hmm.

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6 – Open Shelving

The lady that lived in this house before us put up open shelving in the kitchen. As a naturally messy person that hates mess, I recoil from anything that puts my mess in full view.

For a while I keep my fancy-ass le Creuset pans on the shelving before discovering I could get a load of plants up there. The shelving is about three feet away from a textured, south-facing window.

The window is slightly lower than the shelving and a lot of the light is filtered by the house next door. That makes the lighting good for loads of plants but small calathea, in particular, thrive there. They’re all putting out new growth, even though it’s December.

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7 – Bookcases

If you don’t have any open shelving and don’t want to commit to putting any up, bookshelves are an option – particularly favoured by the Plantstagram crowd are the Ikea Vittsjo ones, which I kind of have my eye on, whilst knowing I have nowhere to put them.

You can pimp open shelving out to best serve your plants – attach grow lights (or use clip-ons as I do), get a couple of hygrometers, and let your plants live the life of Riley.

I love the idea of having two bookcases in adjacent corners with a ladder balanced over the top. I don’t have space, but how cool would that be? You could get loads of hanging plants on a ladder!

I do have a contraption my boyfriend made to hang his HUGE heartleaf philodendron over his fish tank. It’s basically a wooden ‘C’ shape that we can drill hooks into. Have a look at my Instagram if you want to see it.

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8 – The floor

Always an option for any really big plants you may own.

Unless, like me, you have a tiny house.

The only plants I have on the floor are by the back door and on the hearth.

Plants flanking french doors look beautiful, but you have to choose your plants carefully. Very few plants will thank you for leaving them in a spot that’ll be as draughty as a back door.

I have a couple of Yucca by the door that seem to be quite happy. My Yucca are old and have not had the best start to life so I hope they’re ok here.

They’re HUGE and they’re not my favourite so I think they get overlooked. I think next year they might be going outside.

Sorry guys, but my house is just too small for y’all.

Check out Etsy for plant stands. They have some really unique offerings and a variety of sizes. Kimisty Designs have some really nice plant stands as well as other house plant decor – I particularly love the little plant ornaments.

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9 – Kitchen Counters

As you may have already guessed, I don’t have a lot of kitchen counter space. My kitchen diner is an L-shape, and there’s a weird bit round the corner (where the boiler and washing machine live) – a load of my boyfriend’s plants have been abandoned cluster there.

I don’t love it, but there’s nowhere else to put them, and no one really sees it but us.

The only plants I keep on my main kitchen counters tend to be ones I’m keeping in isolation – either newbies or the recently infested.

I LOVE the idea of keeping loads of lush ferns in the gap between the top of my cabinets and the ceiling but

  1. I’m really not convinced there’s enough light for them. Although how cool would grow lights look up there? Hmm. Maybe when I can afford the electricity bill.
  2. I’m sure they’d get greasy as hell. And how they hell doe one de-grease a fern? Also, I wouldn’t be bothered to water them. Maybe when it’s my own house and I can install some sort of irrigation/lighting system

I have about four Calathea (Orbifolia, Peacock, Musaica, unidentified) on my hearth, even though it’s pretty draughty. They’re thriving. Strange, but there you go.

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10 – Mantlepiece

We don’t really use our open fire because it’s teeny and spits embers onto the carpet. Not ideal, especially when the bunny lives in the living room.

But it does mean I can pack the mantlepiece full of plants. It currently houses a spider plant (well, about five in one pot), a pothos n-joy, a heartleaf philodendron, and some others I can’t remember. *Editing note* Stingray Alocasia! He’s there!

No, I can’t be bothered to go downstairs and look, and all the pictures on my phone are out of date.

It looks incredible rn because I’ve wrapped fairy lights around them for Christmas. I’d leave them up all year but it’s just the end of the obnoxiously long set of lights I ordered for the Christmas tree.

On a completely unrelated note, wouldn’t you think there would be a more widely recognised service for Christmas decorations?

I’d love to have someone else decorate my house for Christmas, and I’d love even more for someone to take them down.

A girl I went to school with runs her own cleaning business and according to Facebook LOVES putting up her decs. I might mention it to her.

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And we’re done.

That’s all the places I can think to stash my plants.

Unfortunately, I’m reaching a point where I’m having to instigate a one-in-one-out policy. In summer I think I’m going to have to take a few to work – it’s a restaurant so they’ll be fine and the owner won’t mind/notice.

Or I suppose I could move. Too drastic?

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Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

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