Extract from At Home with Plants by Ian Drummond and Kara O’Reilly. Published by Mitchell Beazley.
Even if a fireplace isn't used for its original purpose, in most living rooms it will still be the main focal point. It is also really easy to style up with plants. It it is still in use, choose heat-tolerant plants such as succulents, cacti and Tillandsia (air plants), and avoid trailing plants.
Individual plants in separate pots allow you to rearrange the display at will, while a trough of complementary plants creates a simple, stylish statement. Symmetrical mantel displays can work well, as can repetitive designs, or divide the space into a series of small vignettes, introducing plants alongside ornaments. A mantle can also take one bold plant, such as Anthurium scherzerianum (flamingo flower), Zantedeschia aethiopica (calla lilly), a Dendrobium orchid or Medinilla magnifica (rose grape).
For the hearth, gather together posts of tall and squat plants, such as Zamioculas zamiifolia (fern arum), Calathea makoyana (peacock plant) and Epipremnum aureum (devil's ivy). For the grate, try Zamioculcas zammiifolia as the backbone, Rhipsalis baccifera (mistletoe cactus) for trailing, plus Aglaonema 'Silver Queen' (Chinese evergreen) for foliage colour.
Recipe: Easy-Care Mantel Display
2 Begonia rex (fan plant)
1 Beaucarnea recurvata (elephant's foot)
1 Peperomia caperata (emerald ripple)
2 Echeveria setosa (Mexican firecracker)
At Home With Plants by Ian Drummond and Kara O’Reilly