13 ways to decorate with plants on shelves

Freshen up with a pop of greenery.
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A splash of nature ushers a welcome freshness into any space, be it a plant for your kitchen, home office, living room or bathroom. Displaying plants on shelves makes the perfect platform to showcase their lush leaves and beyond styling up the perfect shelfie, plants purify the air, so the added health-giving properties of indoor plants bring an extra dimension to their enjoyment.

There’s no need to invest in custom shelving either. A simple windowsill, bookcase or floating shelf works beautifully. Here, we’ve collected inspiration from our favourite homes with the latest ideas on how to display your indoor plants on shelves. Take a tour with us and bring the outdoors in for an Insta-worthy transformation.

1. Mix-and-match

Many plant varieties are timeless, defy trends and transcend design styles. In this living room, an elegant orchid (popular in Hamptons style homes) has been styled with variegated devil’s ivy (popular in contemporary and Scandi-style homes), a maidenhair fern (popular in mid-century modern homes) and a Peperomia. It just goes to show that grouping indoor plants together always looks good, no matter what your interior decorating style is.

Contemporary living room with indoor plants on shelf
(Photography: John Downs | Styling: Kylie Jackes)

2. Mellow minimalism

Custom curved brickwork makes this fireplace Insta-worthy and a cascading indoor plant adds a pop of colour and softness. Choose hardy varieties and rotate your collection for a changing display of plants where a fireplace will radiate heat in the cooler months.

White brick fireplace with cascading indoor plant
(Photography: Simon Whitbread | Styling: Jamee Deaves)

3. Verdant display

Trailing devil’s ivy, a zanzibar gem, and a zygocactus take pride of place upon light timber shelving in this contemporary dining room. The shelving breaks up a large expanse of wall in the dining room and lush indoor plants in the dining room and kitchen suggest fresh herbs.

Dining room with indoor plants on floating shelves
(Photography: Shania Shegedyn | Styling: Alana Langan)
A white living room with a timber coffee table, grey sofas and open shelving.
(Credit: Photography: Mindi Cooke / Styling: Tahn Scoon)

4. Colourful kids

Decorating kids rooms can be fun and doesn’t have to be all toys and brightly coloured blocks. Two lush pot plants add movement and texture to this colourful bedroom and are kept high away from enquiring hands!

Colourful kids room bookcase with plants on shelves

The library has floor-to-ceiling shelving and comfy day beds by Berkeley Interiors, with books grouped to create blocks of colour that tie in with accessories.

(Credit: Photography: John Downs / Styling: Kylie Jackes)

5. Office hours

Tumbling plants on a shelf above the desk transform this home office into an urban jungle. To achieve this look, choose plants with a contrasting mix of leaf shapes and sizes – large and small, high and low. Mingle different pots and planters on your desk and along the shelf in neutral tones to keep things interesting.

Growing plants in water is a low-maintenance and mess-free solution for indoor plant lovers without a lot of time on their hands. Simply top up the water as needed.

(Credit: Photo: Alex Reinders)

6. Short on shelves

If you’re renting or don’t have any shelving suitable for plant display, think outside the frame like this Melbourne bushland home and press your windowsill into service. Line your sun-loving plants along its edge and they’ll thank you for the availability of light with bumper growth.

Woman standing in timber kitchen with indoor plant on window sill
( Photography: Marnie Hawson)

7. Bathroom botanicals

Many indoor plants thrive in the bathroom, so bring a touch of greenery to your morning routine by placing a trailing plant in the shower niche. Just be sure to measure the depth of the niche carefully and select a pot that won’t be a fall hazard.

Tiled shower with indoor plant in niche
(Photography: Alex Reinders | Styling: Sarah Elshaug)

8. Go faux

Faux plants sometimes work just as well in a setting – particularly where there is low light or little chance of regular care and watering, such as in this Gold Coast holiday home. Pick up a bunch of freshly cut blooms for vases whenever you stay to bring to life all of the plants on shelves in your space.

Coastal living room with a large indoor plant tree in the corner
(Photography: Mindi Cooke | Styling: Kylie Jackes)

9. Lush living

Plant need light and care to optimum growth and where better to ensure constant watering than the kitchen? Elevated above the workspace in this renovated cottage is a tumble of devils ivy, out of the way, yet in plain sight.

Double undermount sink in a white kitchen with house plants.
This kitchen was updated by its interior designer owner with a black undermount double sink and the ‘Antiqua’ bronze mixer from The Sink Warehouse. (Credit: Photography: Brigid Arnott / Styling: Lisa Hilton)

10. Warm welcome

Nestled into a timber niche shelf, a potted devil’s ivy signals the transition from the original section of this bushland family home, to the brand new extension. A second plant (Monstera deliciosa), at the top of the stairs, heralds your arrival in the new wing.

Concrete and timber stairway
(Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson)

11. TV dreams

The fabulous setup in this Melbourne home cleverly solves the problem of how to avoid a TV dominating the living room. Having a television that doubles as artwork is a fantastic start, but surrounding the large screen with shelving filled with a cascade of plants growing down and across ties everything together. Pots are kept all white to keep things visually clean.

Concealed television with indoor plants
(Photography: Alex Reinders | Styling: Sarah Elshaug)

12. Keep it simple

Start with a curated selection of plants and pots on your shelf. Where leaves are small and plants extend down and away from the vessels, keep the colour and style of your pots consistent. These earthy tones of terracotta and natural clay let the plants take centre stage and avoid visual clutter.

Plants on timber shelf
(Credit: Image: The Plant Society)

13. Book smart

Fresh or faux, transform an internal bookshelf with a generous collection of plants on shelves as seen in this Parisian style apartment. If you’re looking for extra depth to your display, choose trailing plants and a mix of collected piece with plenty of patina to offset the leafy greens. Rotate your plants to promote even growth at all heights.

Collected pieces displayed on a bookshelf with teal velvet bedspread
Try displaying meaningful pieces together with plants for a fresh look to your shelfie. (Photography: Sue Stubbs / Styling: Jessica Bellef)

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