When you first start buying plants, you distribute them evenly throughout your home: one in this corner, one on the table, one on the shelf... But as your collection grows in size and number, you start to run out of non plant-filled spaces and spend more time crisscrossing your home to care for them all. The solution: squeeze as many plants as possible onto one shelf.
Aside from looking aesthetically pleasing, having a dedicated plant shelf is actually super functional, especially when you have a massive collection of plants and you can’t walk past a plant shop without buying a new one. They help you save room and they make it easier to access your collection, which comes in handy when you have over 60 plants to water each week. Also, let’s be honest—who wouldn’t want to create a green jungle inspired wall of shelves? We certainly wouldn’t pass up the opportunity.
We reached out to a few plant influencers who have some pretty amazing plant shelves that are solving their plant space issues.
Meet the Expert
Why Jam-Pack a Plant Shelf
“I’ve always wanted to maximize my space and by putting shelves, it allows me to put more plants vertically while using less floor space and without necessarily drilling holes in the wall," explains Cyril Sontillano, a plant-focused Instagrammer. "The plant shelves also serve as an organizational tool for my collection."
Plant shelves are an awesome way to maximize space. They really help you organize your plants in specific ways. You can organize them by how frequently they need to be watered, if they’re trailing plants, or by their lighting neds.
They’re also a great way to make your plants the focal point of your home. “I have been collecting plants for almost two years now and really wanted to make them the center of my home. They bring me so much peace and encouragement and I want people to feel the same when they come into my house,” says Deena Stahl, another plant-focused Instagrammer. Having a plant wall made from shelves is a real statement piece and can really bring a room together.
Picking the Right Shelves
“My partner helped me choose the right size and put them up for me. I used two 24-inch and two 36-inch white floating shelves from Home Depot and interchanged the sizes to accommodate big and small plants, as well as other knick knacks," says Stahl. "It cost me about 130 CAD altogether [a little more than $100 USD]. It can definitely be cheaper if you find your shelves secondhand, but unfortunately I looked for a couple months and didn't find any the right size." Going with secondhand materials is an excellent idea from a cost and sustainability standpoint if you have the time to source your shelves. You can also upcycle some standard pieces of plywood if budget is an issue.
“I’ve always used the etagere shelving system [i.e., an open shelving system] because I like the way they look. The levels are spaced enough most of the time to allow plants to grow upright or trail. On average they would cost around $180-$250,” says Sontillano. A standalone piece of furniture could be a good selection for your plant shelves because they are usually fairly sturdy, which is important if you’re placing a lot of plants on there. You wouldn’t want a shelf to fall over because of the weight of fifty plants.
How to Strategically Organize a Plant Shelf
“The plants that are positioned deeper or higher in the shelves would always be harder to access, especially when watering," notes Sontillano. "The tall plants and climbing plants can’t always fit in the shelves and they need to be on the topmost layer. Another challenge is keeping it organized and still aesthetically pleasing."
It can be really hard to organize plants on shelves. You need to have your trailing plants on the top shelves so they can trail nicely but you also don’t want their vines blocking your plants that are on the lower ones. It can be quite the organizational nightmare if you don’t have the patience to move things around until you find something that works.
Plant shelves can also present some challenges if you aren’t tall. “I can hardly reach the top shelf which makes me forget to water the top, so I put my more hardy, less needy plants like pothos and hoya up there,” says Stahl.
Other challenges can arrive when you need to clean your setup. The best thing to do is take everything off, shelf by shelf to get the job done correctly. “Since my plant shelf is more decorative than hobbyist, keeping it clean and presentable can be a challenge too," says Stahl, who is quick to note that despite the challenges, a dense plant shelf is worth it. "My cat can't reach the plants on my shelves so I have a lot less accidents."