Learn what plants to use in indoor environments, and the best plants to use in various environments. Understand how to maintain and care for indoor plants.

Course Code: BHT315
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Become an Expert in Interior Plantscaping

Learn to identify, select, care and use of indoor plants.

  • Follow your passion and work with indoor plants as a career
  • A course for nurserymen, florists, interior plantscapers, gardeners, amateur enthusiasts or anyone with a burning interest in indoor plants




Where to Place Your Plants?

Look at where the planter can be placed for maximum effect:

  • Consider the proportion and scale of the pot and its surroundings. Even without plants, big planters need lots of space, so try to place a large elaborate planter where it won’t look cramped.
  • A decorative planter is an eye-catching feature, so consider placing it at the end of a room or hall way, where it will be seen frequently and both from a distance as well as close up (hence can be easily seen and admired).
  • Plants placed near windows can effectively help tie the outside garden to the interior environment (the garden and the house can visually and psychologically be blended together).
  • Look at its placement in relation to other pots, and features in the house. Plain formal pots can be placed in a line, evenly spaced, with the same type of plant. Pots can be informally grouped, to give a pleasing arrangement of sizes, colours and textures. Elaborate planters, however, are best placed on their own, without the distraction of other pots and garden accessories to detract from their appearance. A large stunning feature plant will loose potential impact if placed beside another feature (eg. an attractive painting or wall hanging)

Setting the Pot on a Pedestal

Ornate planters deserve to be seen, and a pedestal will raise it to a comfortable viewing height. Pedestals can be bought ready-made, or you can make your own out of brick, stone or concrete. Whatever you use, choose a material that complements the planter (eg. don’t use red brick for a stone or concrete planter). A low wall surrounding a courtyard also makes a good pedestal.


How to Use Colour with Indoor Plants

  • Warm colours (eg. red, yellow, orange) create an active mood; and cool colours (eg. blue, green) create a more relaxed mood.
  • Using contrasting colours can make a plant or any other image stand out and be more noticeable eg. A red foliage plant (hot colour) against a blue (cool colour) wall; or a gold coloured foliage plant in a green pot.
  • A plant’s foliage colour may change throughout the year.
  • In some plants, only the new growth flushes are coloured, so the foliage effects only occur in spring and perhaps autumn.
  • Some plants are more intensely coloured in strong light, so for the best effect you should avoid planting these in shady places.
  • Some foliage plants also produce flowers (which may enhance or detract from the effect you wish to create).


Mixing Colours

As with any colour scheme, take care mixing the colours. Generally, it’s best to choose one dominant colour (and perhaps texture) and use one or two other colours in measured amounts to provide contrasts. For example, a planting scheme could be based on green or silver broad-leaved plants, with golden or reddish grass-like plants providing contrasting highlights.

For an exciting contrast, include a few plants with multi-coloured leaves – but don’t overdo it. They’ll stand out better if they’re surrounded by plants with more subtle foliage colours.



In a small room, bare walls can be the most dominant feature. Generally, the tendency is to make the walls disappear behind a paintings, furniture and indoor plants. However, there are some pretty exciting things you can do to walls:

  • Paint a wall a single colour. Not only does it make an interesting backdrop, a painted wall changes the mood of the room, depending on the colours used. Hot colours (red, yellow, pink) make the whole garden feel warmer, more vibrant and active; cool colours (green, blue) are more restful and cool the garden down (psychologically); dark colours give a feeling of enclosure and intimacy; light colours open the area up.
  • Paint a trompe l’oeil on a wall. A trompe l’oeil is an illusion, a painted scene designed to deceive the eye. It gives a quirky, humorous touch to the garden, and makes the garden appear larger than it really is. Add a pot plant to the side as if it is part of the painted scene.
  • Cover the wall with panels of decorative lattice; and perhaps even grow a climber on it.
  • Create niches (shallow recesses) in the wall to display urns, busts or small sculptures. Niches tend to give a room a formal, classical look.
  • Place a decorative gate or door on a large wall, even if it doesn’t lead anywhere. A plain solid door set in a high wall gives the garden a sense of intrigue, a secret retreat from the outside world, and teases the mind about what may lie beyond the door.



One of the cleverest tricks for any small area is using a mirror placed on a wall. The mirror catches and reflects light, ‘extends’ the view, and gives the illusion that space is bigger than it really is.

Where to place a mirror
  • At the end of an axis, such as path, to give the illusion of extra length.
  • Behind a water feature (eg indoor pond), to catch the movement and play of light on water.
  • Against a dark wall, with some light-coloured plants in front of, and below it, to give a feeling of lightness and space
  • Behind a statue, among a few indoor plants, allowing you to see it from all angles.

It is important to use a good quality mirror with a good backing, as the backing can peel off cheaper mirrors over time. All mirrors of course are at risk of breaking; but if placed in a location that is obscure, perhaps partially protected from children playing ball games, the likelihood of breaking is far less.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Plant Naming and pronunciation
    • Review of indoor plant families
    • Resources
  2. Indoor Plant Culture - Part A
    • Understanding interior environments
    • Plants for different light conditions
    • Problems with indoor plants
    • Potting Media
    • Potting up
    • Container selection
    • Managing plant nutrition
    • Pruning indoor plants
    • Propagation and caring for young indoor plants
  3. Indoor Plant Culture - Part B
    • Acclimatizing indoor plants
    • Helping plants survive neglect
    • Managing plant health indoors
  4. Foliage Plants
    • Growing palms inside
    • Review of palm genera
    • Selecting and Growing Ferns inside
    • Review of other foliage plant genera
  5. Flowering Plants
    • Orchids
    • African violets
    • Poinsettia
    • Other genera grown for flowers indoors.
  6. Other Indoor Plants
    • Herbs
    • Vines and Climbers
  7. Making The Best Use Of Indoor Plants
    • Deciding where to place an indoor plant
    • Managing colour
    • Using mirrors
    • Plants in baskets
    • Hydroponics indoors
    • Miniature gardens
  8. The Interior Plantscaping Industry
    • Interior Plantscaping Business
    • Growing in Greenhouses
    • Environmental control


  • Distinguish between different types of indoor plants, including twenty-five different genera and fifty different varieties
  • Describe the cultural methods used for growing various indoor plants
  • Select appropriate plants for different interior plantscaping situations
  • Evaluate a range of plants not commonly grown indoors for their suitability for interior plantscaping
  • Develop innovative ways of presenting plants for indoor situations
  • Explain the interior plantscaping industry, including it's nature and scope.

....Health benefits of using Indoor Plants


Indoor plants can make a significant contribution to the "health" of an indoor environment: they help replenish oxygen in the air and help filter dust particles and pollution from the air.
In a study on indoor pollution conducted by NASA, it was proven that plants help to eliminate what is known as the ‘sick building syndrome’. 

Common sources of these pollutants are:

  • carpets
  • vinyl and rubber
  • wood made from pressed particles
  • office machinery (such as photocopiers)
  • gases created by cooking and also cleaning products
  • pesticides

Employees affected by the ‘sick building syndrome’ complain of headaches, eye irritation, skin rashes, drowsiness and other allergy-type conditions.
The elimination of these harmful pollutants from work the environment helps to reduce sickness in employees.

It is also suggested that plants improve staff morale - in turn improving productivity and job satisfaction.

Plants in commercial and public buildings can in general also:

  • Reduce noise - plants also absorb sound in large spaces.
  • Make a space more inviting.
  • Project an image – attractive, healthy environment.
  • Provide a flexible design element – can be moved around.

More benefits
The benefits are not just associated with the work place: plants in hospitals are believed to aid patient recovery and lower blood pressure.
To heal patients need to reduce stress and relax. Interior gardens provide the calm environment needed by patients during the healing process. Hospital staff too can benefit from the effects.
Plants transpire - which cools the surrounding air and also keeps indoor humidity at a comfortable level. This is particularly noticeable in large interior plantscapes. These larger indoor garden areas sometimes include water and other outdoor landscape design features, to create complete indoor garden environments.


After completion of this course.

Students who have completed this course will have a very good understanding of the benefits and advantages of incorporating living plants into buildings. They will have a very sound knowledge of selecting the appropriate plants for different sites and will be able to design indoor gardens. Employment opportunities can be found in the interior plant industry, nursery industry and will benefit interior designers.


Our principal John Mason is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture

ACS Distance Education is a member of the Australian Garden Council, Our Principal John Mason is a board member of the Australian Garden Council

Member of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association since 1993

ACS is a silver sponsor of the AIH. The principal, John Mason, is a fellow. ACS certificate students are offered a free membership for this leading professional body.Provider.

Recognised since 1999 by IARC

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Marie Beerman

Marie has over 10 years in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie has been a co author of several ebooks in recent years, including "Roses" and "Climbing Plants".
Marie's qualifications include B. Sc., M.Hort. Dip. Bus. Cert. Lds

Bob James

Horticulturalist, Agriculturalist, Environmental consultant, Businessman and Professional Writer. Over 40 years in industry, Bob has held a wide variety of senior positions in both government and private enterprise. Bob has a Dip. Animal Husb, B.App.Sc.,

John L. Mason

Auithor of "Commercial Hydroponics", one of the world's best selling hydroponic books for more than 20 years. John completed a Diploma in Horticultural Science at Australia's oldest horticulture college in 1971. In 1974 he was asked to create and teach a

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