These plants are architectural wonders.

Jenni Kayne Ranch Living Room
Thomas J. Story

Social media feeds continue to be flooded with homes featuring large-scale exotic plants placed in unexpected, one-of-a-kind vessels. The plants are more architectural installations than botanical accents, with tall and twisted branches often plucked bare, and pops of personality exploding at the very tips. Some have referred to this trend as “bonsai adjacent,” while others are quick to call it “horticultural decor,” but no matter how you label it, the look is undeniably chic.

Zilah Drahn has captured the attention of interior designers and celebrities with her L.A. business Plants & Spaces, which is quickly becoming the premiere home-staging boutique focused on high-end indoor plants. Here she shares advice on those vibing vines.

Right Plant, Right Place

Dracaena or Pleomele by the Pool

Nora Schäfer

Before rushing to the nursery to score the latest “It” plant, or obsessing over which vessels you want to showcase in your home, Drahn recommends assessing the space where the installation will live. Her first move is to “consider the room’s aesthetics, including color and the shapes of other objects, and strive to complement the space without overwhelming.”

Next, she takes into account the growth patterns of particular plants that will thrive in the given conditions and how they will grow within the space. Whether you’re looking to fill a large, brightly lit corner or want to create a focal accent on an entry credenza, set yourself up for long-term success by knowing how the plant will grow and shape over time. Researching the plant’s growth habits will allow its mature size to guide you in choosing the right plant for the perfect spot.

A Formula for Foliage

Dracaena Marginata

Elizabeth-Fernandez/Getty Images

Unique branching shape and leaf texture are key to achieving this look. Drahn suggests heading to a number of indoor and outdoor nurseries to observe different variations of plant growth and leaf variegation before making your final choice. She encourages you to “look for the craziest shape in the branches,” keeping in mind that choice pruning can also alter the growth and shape of various plants in distinct ways.

When sourcing plants, be willing to travel outside of your neighborhood. Drahn suggests making it an adventure to explore more diverse inventory. She even suggests researching wholesale nurseries that have certain days for retail clients and potentially more plants for you to choose from. Most important, she suggests being curious and patient while taking time to look behind all the other plants for something unusual. Some nurseries might consider these oddly shaped specimens unsellable, so never be afraid to ask what might be hiding in the back. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all.

Not sure where to start? Here are Drahn’s plant picks for those new to botanical styling: Pleomele, Brachychiton rupestris, Dracaena reflexa, Dracaena marginata, Ficus ‘Audrey’.

Vivid Vessels

Zilah Drahn
Zilah Drahn at work

Joshua Pineda

Once you’ve identified a number of plants that will work within your space, it’s time to think about what to put them in. Drahn focuses on two details when searching for vessels: First, how can the shape of the pot elevate or accentuate the plant’s climbing or trailing characteristics? Second, which colors are complementary to the leaf color or shape? Most important, it should be a major statement piece.

While handmade or vintage pieces are especially important for these types of celeb-worthy installations, Drahn notes that a number of easy-to-find ceramic, terracotta, or chrome planters can also create swoon-worthy impact when texture and shape come into play. If you find an interesting piece without drainage holes, you can often drill one yourself with a ceramic bit, or stage your plant inside a nursery grow pot, which can be removed on watering days. In fact, keeping the plant inside its original grow pot and hiding it within an oddly shaped or oversize vessel is a common practice that can keep a plant healthier with better drainage. Vessels that might not present ideal growing conditions include very deep pots that could take too long to drain or dry out between waterings. Get creative and fill these oddly sized vessels with materials other than soil (stacked bricks; an overturned plastic pot) before placing your plant inside.

Potting up + Pruning

Pleomele or Dracaena in Pot

Nora Schäfer

At Plants & Spaces, interior installs come with individualized soil plans and ongoing care services. Drahn admits she’s “not a huge fan of the look of saucers,” so she tends to stage directly in the planter, allowing draining to occur safely inside by using a lining to avoid water leakage and a top dressing to hide grow pots. If the piece is dressed with top rocks, be sure to monitor your watering as they hold in moisture longer than bare soil. Similarly, if any moss is used, lift the material up when watering to maintain balanced moisture relief, as it can easily get soggy or dry out over time.

Outside of the initial styling, while the shape of the plant is accentuated by pruning back extra branches or removing sections of leaves, ongoing maintenance is limited to a minor pruning during spring or summer. Similar to our outdoor plant friends, indoor plants also go dormant in the winter months and do best when clipped during active growth cycles.