One of my golden rules for successful home staging is, "A plant belongs in every room."

Let's talk details so you'll maximize the use of plants in your staged home. I have four tips that guarantee you won't squander your plant-buying budget, but instead, get results that make your home show better. 

Use only healthy plants

Step one is to buy your houseplants from a source that takes care of them, not from a discount center or seasonal outlet. When you shop for small plants, you can usually turn one upside down and pop it out of its pot to see if the roots look healthy -- abundant but not rootbound. 

With larger plants, check for healthy-looking stems and leaves. Does the plant look like it's been given attention, or just left to grow ungroomed? 

No plant should look wilted, or have yellowed or browned leaves. It's a good idea to check the undersides of leaves for insects. The potting soil should look relatively loose instead of compacted. Purchasing plants from a local, knowledgeable company means you'll get plants that were grown correctly, and you can usually get advice from employees on the plants' care and feeding.

Keeping plants healthy will require regular checking on your part. If you let the soil get too dry or too wet, or neglect to cut back leggy specimens, or don't remove dried and wilted leaves, your plants won't reward you with good looks. Most houseplants benefit from regular, mild liquid fertilizing. If a plant doesn't come with printed care instructions, make sure the label tells you what kind of plant it is so you can research its needs online. 

Small plants look more interesting when staged as part
of a grouping. Start with a tray, and add props that  
make sense in that setting, and have interesting
colors and shapes. Photo: Green Matters

Place them where it matters

Indoor plants are workhorses! You can use a large potted palm on either side of French doors or exterior sliders to emphasize and expand the view. You can place an orchid on a mantel to highlight the fireplace as the room's focal point. You can add a small jade plant to a bedside table to make the room feel fresher. You can station a few lush green plants around a monochromatic living room to inject some color.  

Often, a sizeable plant can substitute for a piece of furniture,
either to fill an empty corner or to save money. Photo: Sleep Wooven

Topiaries like these are always classic decorating devices,
especially in aged clay pots, and especially in a kitchen, where they can  
soften an area of cold, hard surfaces. Photo: Sarah Bartholomew Design
You've decluttered and de-personalized, removing desktop clutter, 
sports memorabilia, and family photos, so now let
houseplants fill those gaps with style. 
Photo: Nick and Alicia

Need a touch of color on a tabletop or vanity?
African violets take some extra care on your part,
but the home staging rewards are worth it. 
Photo: Old Farmers Almanac

Choose impressive containers

Just as a good frame elevates the value of a painting, an interesting container for your plant makes it look more important. It's never a good idea to leave a purchased plant in the plastic container from the garden center. Ordinary, nursery pots make your plants look unimportant and cheap, and more like an afterthought than part of a planned room. 

Select a pot that coordinates with your home's decor. Here's your chance to add personality. A farmhouse-style home could incorporate tin or vintage wood containers. A historic home could have pots typical of the age of the home. A modern ranch could have fun with some 50s kitsch or mid-century modern designs. And in an eclectic or global setting, almost any kind of interesting vessel works well. 

This handsome rosewood veneer planter box on pencil legs nods to MCM design. 
A container like this makes it possible to switch out plants so 
the best ones or seasonal ones are on display. Photo: unknown  
Probably the easiest planter to care for is a terrarium. It practically takes care
of itself. Fill it with your favorites -- ferns, or carnivorous plants, or 
sedums, or orchids, or bonsai, or moss! Photo and instructions: Southern Living

All plants need good drainage, especially succulents like these. If your
planters don't have a drainage hole, be sure not to overwater. 

If you are staging with a collection of similar plants, use matching or similar pots, as shown above. A cohesive look is comforting to the eye, an important consideration when staging a home. The choices in ceramicware are endless, and metal, wood, concrete, plastic, hypertufa, and even glass containers are other possibilities. If your container isn't totally waterproof -- like a basket or unglazed clay -- you'll need to add a second container or underliner. All plants need good drainage. Most don't like constantly wet roots.

Protect your furniture from spills and from condensation under the pot. Elevate them on nonporous saucers or trays. If it's convenient, take them to a sink, shower, or tub to give them a good watering and then let them drain there before returning them.

Your plants won't need a shower every week, but watering them in a sink
or tub makes it easy to keep them sparkling clean and healthy.

Situate plants according to their needs

A common gardening adage is, "Right plant, right place." In other words, if you want a plant to thrive, it has to be situated where it will get what it needs. This advice is as valid for houseplants as it is for outdoor landscape plants, even though indoor plants have far fewer disease, weed, and insect problems than house-bound ones.  

A Sago Palm needs some good light, but will add some tropical drama
to your home. There are plenty of plants that are happy
in low light conditions
. Photo: House Beautiful 


Ferns are always a good fit, no matter what the decor style or space available.
Elevating a large potted plant off the floor adds to its appeal. Photo: Reena Sotropa


Any and every room in your house is a candidate for a plant location. Potted herbs are the obvious choice for staging a kitchen as long as there is abundant light. A small window garden filled with fresh herbs like chives, basil, mint, oregano, or rosemary makes the room look like a place where cooking would be fun. 

Great plants for bathrooms are pothos, ferns, snake plant, peace lily, aloe vera, air plants, English ivy, and philodendron. I think it's best to limit the number of plants in a small room. Some plants like warm rooms and others prefer cooler temps, so you'll need to pay attention to your plants' preferences. No plants like drafty rooms.  

In a larger space, like a living room, large plants can fill empty spaces and smaller ones can decorate a coffee table. Scale is just as important in a foyer or hall where buyers first enter your home. A beautiful plant there sets the tone of your home. Research shows that people react to plants by becoming more relaxed and happy. Living plants also help clean the air and release oxygen, helping any home, vacant or occupied stay fresh and healthy. 

Pothos is one of the best plants to use for home staging because
it sports shiny leaves, grows lush easily, has minimal light  
requirements, and is economical to buy. Photo: DIY Network

I like to see a plant in every staged bedroom. Dressers and side tables look homey with some fresh greenery. Compared to fresh flowers, living plants are forgiving and long-lasting. Study professionally decorated rooms in shelter magazines and online portfolios of decorators, and you'll see how often indoor plants are called on to provide the finishing touches on a room.

Even in a virtual home tour, plants have a powerful effect on the viewer. Be sure to read what I've already blogged about my six favorite no-fuss, goof-proof houseplants for home staging,

Get the look, get the book

Making houseplants part of your arsenal for staging is a great way to make your home more charming to buyers. If you want to be like the 68% of Florida home sellers that were satisfied with their home selling process last year, plants can really help. I hope these four tips will help you capitalize on the potential plants have to increase the apparent value of your home. 

I always encourage homeowners to stage their own property when it's time to sell. Even if you decide to sell your own home, I still think DIY staging has benefits that don't come with professional staging. For all the best advice about staging your own home, be sure to download your copy of my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar.