The Top Do's & Don'ts Of Hanging Plants At Home

mbg Sustainability Editor By Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability Editor

Emma is the Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care."

Image by Kristine Weilert / Stocksy

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The current cultural obsession with houseplants has taken over floors and windowsills worldwide—and now it's moving onto our ceilings. As plant influencers amass followings well into the hundred thousands and books on developing your green thumb become best sellers, it seems there are just too many plants out there for our allotted square footage.

"As this trend grows of having a lot of plants in your space, incorporating plants in a way that doesn't take up room is pretty big," Rebecca Bullene, the founder of biophilic design shop Greenery Unlimited, says of the growing appeal of the hanging houseplants. It also has to do with aesthetics: "When plants are sitting low on the floor, you kind of have to look down to see them. When you hang up a houseplant, all the sudden it's in your field of vision all the time."

Ready to level up your plant decor at home? Grab your step stool and read through Bullene's expert tips:

First things first: What are the best plants for indoor hanging?

It starts with choosing the right planter for the plant you want to display. So if you choose a really small container that you think is cute, you'll want to put a plant in there that's not going to require a lot of water, like a succulent or cactus. (The smaller the vessel, the smaller the soil mass, so the less water it can hold on to.) Any cascading plant that can go one to two weeks without water would also be OK.

On the other hand, if you're going for a lush, jungle vibe, you want to have a vessel that's big enough to hold a lot of water and accommodate that kind of big root growth. So if I'm displaying a pothos or monstera, for example, I'll use a vessel that's at least 8 inches.

Got it! Are there any plants that you don't recommend hanging up for one reason or another?

It's about your conditions. It always comes back to that first step of choosing a new plant, which is to be really honest with yourself about the light in your space. Any plant can be in a hanging planter, but not every plant can handle being put directly in front of a window or in a dark bedroom corner.

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Do you need to remove plants from their hangers to water them?

Not necessarily! For me, the goal is always to reduce the amount of maintenance that's needed. Taking them off the hook and to the sink is just extra time I don't want to spend. All the planters I chose for my home don't have drainage holes at the bottom and I did that so I can just water them in place. I get on my little step stool and give all those guys a drink as they're hanging.

If you have planters with a hole on the bottom for drainage, you do want to take the whole thing down and water it over a sink.

As a plant grows over time—which is the whole goal!—you need a planter that’s going to support it.

What about choosing the right hanger for your plants? Any tips there?

I tend to like hanging planters that are just dishes at the bottom, so you can put in any planter you want.

A word of caution: I've seen planters hanging on thin neon string... After years of coming in contact with water and sunlight, that can degrade and become a safety issue. One of the biggest things I look for is sturdiness. As a plant grows over time—which is the whole goal!—you need a planter that's going to support it.

If you're going for metal hangers, you want to make sure they're galvanized or have a vinyl coating because they'll come in contact with water pretty often. They should be watertight; if you see something starting to rust, that's probably a cheap manufacturer not thinking it through.

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What if you're more into the DIY look?

You can always make your own hanger by buying some metal or learning macramé. (YouTube is a great resource here!) I think macramé hangers are a great choice because you can put any planter into them too.

Image by Sven Brandsma / Unsplash

Once you've got everything ready, how do you decide where to hang your plant?

It starts with spatial design. In my home, I face a back courtyard. I don't like having the blinds down all the time because I want the natural light, but at the same time it's kind of awkward when you go to your window and see your neighbor right there. So I use plants to create a visual obstruction: In one window, I have five hanging planters strung up at different heights. They're all cascading plants, so it almost has the effect of a beaded curtain. They're still letting all the light come through while acting as a privacy shade. When that sunset light is coming in and you get those leaf patterns on the walls, it really makes a space feel homey, comfortable, and lush.

If you have a smaller space and you're trying to make a big visual impact with a lot of greenery, hanging plants in couples or trios can be nice too.

You never want to hang plants above furniture that people sit on.

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Any hanging houseplant no-no's?

You never want to hang plants above furniture that people sit on. Subconsciously, it can make us feel uncomfortable to have this big thing hanging over our heads. It's one thing to hang them over a table, but it's another to put them directly over a chair. I say to keep them in corners or in front of windows.

Any final thoughts on how to hang a houseplant safely?

You have to put an anchor in the ceiling before you put your hook in! So many people just hang up a little hook with a screw end on it. That's fine if you're only putting 1 to 2 pounds of weight on it. But depending on the size of your plant, you should really be getting an anchor that can hold 25 to 50 pounds. An 8-inch hanging basket generally weighs about 8 pounds when you first hang it up, but when it's fully saturated and starts to grow, it can get heavy.

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