Plants have an important role to play in interiors. They help create a harmonious atmosphere that is relaxing and reminds us that we are part of nature. In a commercial setting, they add a homely touch to an otherwise functional space. But it is their very colour that achieves so much of this atmosphere. Green is a particularly soothing colour. So the fantastic foliage of plants is what makes them such an important addition to any setting. Greenery is on trend so let’s explore some of the many exciting leaf shapes and patterns plants have to offer.

Fantastic foliage ideas

Feathery ferns

Ferns in glass containers on a desk and hanging from the ceiling

Ferns in glass terrariums helps to show off their fantastic foliage

Ferns are an ancient plant that predates the dinosaurs. They come in a variety of leaf shapes from the incredibly light fronds of the maidenhair ferns to robust, drought- and shade- tolerant plants we associate with dense woodland.

The fronds of a fern are usually a playful mess, spilling out in random spreads. Because each frond is made up of multiple smaller leaves, ferns are great for allowing light to pass through them. You can also set them against a coloured wall for glimpses of the colour behind. Equally, they do well in pots with a contrasting colour or finish to the fronds.

Ferns make great hanging plants as shown in the terrariums of Vosegesparis’ blog article. But they are also great pot plants on a desk or plant stand. You can group ferns together or with other plants: combine ferns with mossy woodland plants to create a dense magical forest; or add them to a sub-tropical scheme evocative of humid jungles.

split leaf philodendron have fantastic foliage

Splendid waxy green leaves of a split leaf philodendron

Waxy leaves

If a plant has a waxy leaf it usually means that it comes from drier climates where it has to conserve water. The waxy surface helps the plant to retain water in otherwise dry or hot conditions. A great variety of plants have this feature including the philodendron. Not to be confused with the monstera or cheese plants, philodendrons have large glossy leaves. They range from heart-like to spearhead in shape and are sometimes split-leaved (such as the variety picture as described in the best houseplant article from

Anthuriums offer great waxy leaf foliage too. This red anthurium from Floresy features dark green glossy leaves with striking red veins running throughout each leaf.

Waxy and glossy leaved-plants add a rich and vibrant lushness to a scheme. Their shiny leaves are also quite tactile and invite people to stroke their smooth and generously sized leaves.

Red Anthurium in Pot

Anthurium by Floresy has large, tactile waxy leaves.

Variegated leaves

zebra grass in black pot

Zebra grasses look like porcupine quills

Variegation in leaves is when the leaf has more than on colour. Sometimes this is in the form of stripes like this zebra grass, which looks almost like porcupine quills arranged in a pot. Zebra grasses are a variety of miscanthus and can grow very large in dense clumps. Zebra grasses are from Eastern Asia and are very popular garden plants in Japan.

The variegation in leaves can also be a colour gradient from the centre of the leaf radiating outwards. Generally two-tone, colours include white and all shades of green plus a few less expected colours such as pinks and reds. Variegated white-green leaf of this Floresy artificial ficus tree shows this very typical variegation pattern. The darker green leaves have white edges that soften its overall shape. If you compare the variegated leaf with a solid leaf variety you can see the difference in the overall size impression it gives.


Crazy leaf shapes

Sansevieria plant in brown pots on patio

Sansevieria or snakes tongue work well as indoor or outdoor plants (image from Pinterest)

Sansevieria is also known as snakes tongue or mother-in-law’s tongue. It is a popular plant for its upright spiky leaves. The leaves tick all the boxes: they have an interesting shape, they’re variegated and they are stripy! They are a commonly used architectural plant for indoors and outdoors, in residential and commercial settings. Floresy offers both a yellow-green sansevieria variety and a darker green leafed variety with a subtle stripe.

Spiky-leaved plants are popular because the structure of the plant has such contrast with more typical leaf-shaped leaves. Other spiky plant choices include yuccas, grasses and the softer but spiky-shaped leaves of palm trees. The kentia palm is a very popular tree for interiors, especially for the urban jungle trend.

Bonkers tillandsia is a family of evergreen plants that includes air plants. Their minimal root system means they can grow in the thinnest of soils and on other plants. These thinner leaf varieties come from wetter climates than their bigger-leaved cousins. All varieties can absorb water and nutrient through their leaves so can appear to literally survive on air. This display idea from Rodale’s Organic Life has a collection of air plants erected on wires above some equally beautiful pebbles.

tillandsia fantastic foliage air plants display

Tillandsia air plants are displayed on wires above rocks.

The best thing about including plants with fantastic foliage into your decor is the huge variety of texture they add. Combine different types of plants with different leaf shapes and colours to create a fabulous display of fantastic foliage.

Architectural plants are the backbone of any exterior planting scheme. If gardens are rooms, architectural plants are the furniture. These vital plants are the structure around which smaller or seasonal plants are placed. They act as focal points for a bed of plants to give them volume and presence. But they can also have more simple yet structural uses such as defining a doorway or walkway. Or just filling a space. Wherever they are used, they add height and visual impact to a design.

In modern minimalist architecture, structural plants are often used in isolation to create drama using a minimal number of plants. The choice of planter or pot that the architectural plants are placed in is often as important as the choice of the plant itself. The use of plants in sleek and cutting-edge exteriors helps soften the overall look. The coldness of stone, steel and glass emphasises the green of the foliage.

landscape designDesign by Rayavat Engineering

Architectural plants design tips

  • Choose a bold or striking plant as a focal point to a flower bed or a collection of pots.
  • Add instant height to a space to create more visual interest
  • Using a large artificial as the focus plant(s) will require far less maintenance and will look good in any location.
  • Use planting to soften the harsh lines of the outside of a building

Unlike their natural counterparts, Floresy artificial architectural plants will not grow bigger to obscure a window or view. What you get is how it will stay. This is a big advantage when designing a look of a space. Especially if the style is precise and ordered like minimalism often is. Very low maintenance also means no watering and no sweeping up dead leaves.

What makes a plant an architectural plant?

Some people may argue that certain plants can be classified as architectural whilst others will disagree. It is the use and placement of a plant that makes it architectural or structural. Because the plant needs to add a certain focus, architectural plants have similar traits. Architectural plants will often have at least one of the following:

  • A distinctive shape
  • A distinctive leaf colour or shape
  • Evergreen or offer interest all year round
  • Interesting bark or stems
  • Generously sized (but aren’t we all?)

You can be creative and use any plant architecturally as it is all about the context. A climbing ivy or wisteria can be used to frame a doorway just as two identical topiary boxwoods in striking planters. Use low, ground-cover plants around the edge of a patio to create a visual boundary. Likewise, place them around the base of a statue or sculpture to contrast with its height.

Choosing architectural plants

Buying real architectural plants is certainly a considered purchase with mature specimens carrying a hefty price tag. A significant advantage of choosing a Floresy artificial architectural plant is that your investment will require far less maintenance, look exactly the same all year round, will not grow to spoil a design and can be moved to different locations and still look just as good. All these factors mean that your investment is more secure and has a longer lifespan than a real plant could be.

Tall and upright architectural plants

Artificial Yucca in pot

Yuccas are great architectural plants for both indoor or outdoor.

Yucca plants are known for their tough, sword-like spiky leaves and are popular as both an indoor and outdoor plant. The leaves of a sansevieria are also spiky and are also known as ‘snake tongue’. They come in a dark green and this yellow-green variety. Both this artificial yucca and this sansevieria are great solutions for adding vertical drama when floor space is at a premium. The yucca and Sansevieria are also useful for creating a more tropical feel to a setting. 

Sansevieria Yellow architectural plant

Sansevieria come in two shades of green and make a fantastic feature plant when space is a premium.

Formal architectural plants 

box tree 110 cm artificial plant

Boxwood gentle topiary tree in the pot

Nothing is more classical in a garden landscape than a box topiary. This beautiful box in a pot from Floresy combines the formal choice of the plant with a softer shape and styling. With a bonsai-inspired shape, this particular product will suit any more formal setting including oriental gardens because of this delicate shaping. The thuja conifer tree offers a very traditional look and so is equally suited to a formal presentation. You can easily imagine a line of these trees flanking a gravel walkway on the approach to a stately hotel or conference centre. But they will look equally at home in a very professional office reception. It is a very flexible choice because you can use it in a variety of different situations.

Thuja tree

The Thuja is a conifer like plant with great potential in more formal schemes.


Bushy and big architectural plants

larch tree

Artificial Larch trees by Floresy is available in three different heights

Same as the thuja, Larch trees are also conifers. This variety from Floresy is available up to 180cm in height so it’s big without being too unpractical. They can easily fill a space but their more delicate branches will not block the light. In addition, they can be decorated with lights for a romantic effect. The cycas is a bold a bushy plant which means it is ideal for a central placement. Its big enough so that you can add additional plants underneath or just plant individually in a gravel bed.

Artificial cycas palm tree architectural plants

Artificial Cycas Palm Plant 100 cm artificial plant

Floresy also offers a bespoke tree design service for the ultimate in architectural plants. Contact us today so we can help you with your designs.