Log-home lovers have always sought ways to showcase their home’s mountain, forest or lake surroundings. While picture windows and screened-in porches blur the line between inside and out, nothing conjures up the great outdoors more than a bit of greenery.

“There’s no better way to instill the openness and energy of nature into your home than with a plant,” says Barbara Pleasant, author of The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual. Here are her tips for doing just that.

Filling the Space

Although windowsills are the favorite location for light-hungry greenery, there are areas all over the home that are just as suitable. “Begin by finding a bright spot that gets direct sun,” Barbara suggests. This area will be great for growing indoor blooming plants like cyclamen, geranium or shamrock, which are very showy, but need abundant light. The main entryway is another popular location, but look for varieties that can withstand drafts.

And don’t just rely on plants as accent pieces. Large, upright tree-form plants, such as parlor palms, Norfolk pines or tall rubber varieties work like furniture to define large, open spaces or help fill bare corners.

Looking Fresh

Preserving anything uprooted from its natural habitat is a challenge. More than a green thumb, maintaining a plant takes patience. “Most plants have been through a lot by the time they make it to stores. They usually need a few weeks to settle in once you bring them home,” says Barbara. “Even with tried-and-true species, don’t be too quick to judge their success or failure.”

The best way to ensure a long life is to keep your plants moving. Purchase two of the same variety and place one wherever you like, while setting the other on a sunlit sill. Once a week, swap the two—it will keep your foliage from falling flat. Also, try grouping greenery that has similar light and water needs. Arranging a few ferns in a hanging basket, for example, creates a lush, from-the-garden look and simplifies maintenance.

When the days grow short and cool, haul your plants to well-insulated, sunlit shelves and tables. “Most indoor plants grow slowly during the winter, but as long as they’re not kept in cold, drafty spots, they will endure winter just fine,” Barbara says. She recommends purchasing little blooming plants, such as kalanchoes or cyclamens, and enjoying them in cold-weather months as if they were cut flowers for the look of spring and summer year round.

Indoor Plants
Plant nameSpecies name
AloeAloe barbadensis
Holiday cactusSchlumbergera hybrids
Swedish ivyPlectranthus australis
GeraniumPelargonium species
Crown of ThornsEuphorbia milii
CyclamenCyclamen persicum
KalanchoeKalanchoe hybrids
Foliage Plants
Plant nameSpecies name
Chinese evergreen Aglaonema commutatum
Queen’s tearsBillbergia nutans
ShamrockOxalis regnellii
AspidistraAspidistra eliator
Spider plantChlorophytum comosum
Grape ivyCissus species
DieffenbachiaDieffenbachia hybrids
DraceaenaDracaena species
PothosEpipremnum aureum
Rubber plantFicus elastica
Parlor palmChamaedorea species
PhilodrendronsPhilodendron species