How to Decorate Plant Shelves in the Home


High ledges along tall walls -- often referred to as plant shelves -- are, ironically, less than ideal areas to place live plants needing regular care. Large decorative items and faux greenery may work better on such shelves. However, built-in ledges with easy access are good locations for live greenery mixed with other decorative accents. Display a collection of things you love that tie in or enhance the style of your home.

High and Wide Ledges

  • Small items become lost on high, deep plant ledges. Decorative items also need occasional dusting, so stick with larger accents that can be easily seen and maintained. Gather a group of items that relate to each other in some way. The following example provides an eclectic twist in a modern setting.

    Materials: Browse through thrift stores or online for three old suitcases, a vintage floor globe, a vintage Indian sari and a vintage camera with tripod. Good filler items include candle lanterns, baskets, urns, vases, vintage birdcages and faux greenery.

    Method: Stack the suitcases from largest to smallest, which then become like a single object. Place them in the middle of the shelf to anchor the display. Position the globe and camera tripod on each side of the suitcases, spacing them evenly apart. Place the sari underneath the globe or tripod, allowing part of it to drape over the edge of the ledge. Fill a few baskets and a birdcage with the greenery. Add one or two filler items by the suitcases, globe and tripod until you are satisfied with your vintage vignette.

Staircase Plant Ledges

  • Not all plant shelves are high or hard to reach. Some ledges built into the wall along a staircase have natural easy access. A mix of live plants and Old World-style accents adds instant warmth to a traditional or Mediterranean-style home.

    Materials: Gather two or three tall wooden candle holders, a wrought iron gate, a metal urn, an earthenware vase, an antique mantel clock and three plants in decorative planters. Include one plant with trailing vines, one small leafy plant and one tall grassy variety in a tall planter.

    Method: This design idea is for two staggered ledges following the elevation of a staircase wall. Place the wrought iron gate along the back wall of the top ledge. Add the candle holders to one side of the gate, slightly in front and overlapping it, and the metal urn to the other side Place the vine plant in front, allowing vines to drape over the edge of the ledge. Position the tall grass plant in the back corner of the second ledge. Stagger the earthenware vase and small leafy plant in the middle, and place the mantle clock near the front.

Highlighting Options

  • Draw the eye to a styled plant ledge by painting the back wall a darker shade than the surrounding walls. Create a beautiful glow behind display items on a high plant shelf by installing cove lighting. This can be accomplished by running a rope light along the back edge of the shelf. The rope light itself is hidden from view from below. Rope lights come in many colors, providing an alternative to paint for adding a splash of color between the ledge and ceiling.

Additional Display Tips

  • Grouping items in odd numbers creates more visually appealing displays. Vary the height, size and texture of items, while repeating colors and shapes. Pick up accent colors or materials from other decor in the room to tie the display in with the surroundings. Make sure stands holding fragile items like ceramic platters are sturdy and secure. A small dab of museum putty can help secure items to the surface and is especially helpful in earthquake zones. Commission the help of a partner when trying to get larger items up high. Have someone hand them up to you and then view your arrangements from below while you make the final adjustments on the ledge.

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