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How to add houseplants to your decor

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In a more modern, minimalist room, sleek plants make a bold statement. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Houseplants are a great addition to any home decor scheme: They can add color, drama and visual interest to any room. As an added bonus, a little greenery also cleans the air in your home, potentially helping keep you healthier through the winter.

When looking for plants to bring into your home, keep in mind pets and small children. Some plants can be poisonous if ingested, and little kids can easily pull a plant over and out of the pot.

Plants that can be dangerous to small children and pets include dieffenbachia, philodendron, poinsettia and crown-of-thorns.

To get a finished, designer look by adding plants to your decor, follow these tips:

Continuity is key. Keep the style of your room in mind when heading to the store to select plants. If you have a Southwestern vibe, try a cactus with a few brightly colored flowers in orange, pink or red hues. In a more modern, minimalist room, sleek plants like wheatgrass and dracaena make a bold statement. Rooms with Victorian or antique looks can handle something more robust like ferns or Chinese evergreen.

Houseplants grouped on a windowsill. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Think in groups. One of the easiest ways to make an impact with houseplants is to group a few of them together in a room. Placement is important; make sure you group sun-loving plants with others like them and vice versa.

For added drama, group plants of varying heights together. "The heights of the plants should graduate down in small increments. Don't place a 7-foot or taller tree next to a short plant," designer Barbara Jennings says on her Floral Design Training website. "It's better to graduate down with less of a dropoff." Plant heights can vary by a few inches, but avoid putting a tall parlor palm next to a squat fern.

Fill space with plants. Have a dead corner or wall? Add a plant or two to liven it up. Use something wide, like a zeezee plant, in a corner next to the television or couch. A flowering bulb like amaryllis is great on a tall table to add color and fill in dead space.

The experts at Your Decorating Hotline remind homeowners to look at what's already in the room. They suggest choosing plant heights and fullness based on the available space and the height of the room's other elements like windows, armoires, bookcases and doors.

Pick the right pot. You should take two things into consideration when choosing a pot for your plant: the decor in your room and the size of your plant. Keep it simple and choose a pot with muted neutral tones and a classic shape, or select something bright and modern to make a statement. Choose a container that's made to hold plants to ensure proper drainage; potting a plant in a regular vase means water won't drain and the plant will die from overwatering.

Size is more complicated, since doing it properly means getting acquainted with your plant's root system. A ficus tree, for example, needs a pot at least two feet wide by two feet deep to house its root system. A smaller plant, such as an African violet, needs something shallower because its root system is very small.

A professional at the nursery should be able to assist you in selecting the perfect pot size, but you may need to do your own research when it's time to re-pot a growing plant.

Ilyce Glink is an award-winning, nationally syndicated real estate columnist, blogger and radio talk show host, and managing editor of the Equifax Finance Blog. Follow her on Twitter @Glink.

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