When you don’t have a lot of money to spend on furnishing in a new apartment, there are some other inexpensive options like using plants to make a home-sweet-home atmosphere.

These leafy creatures have been used in home décor for many years. But why are they such a popular décor item?  Well-appointed foliage can add a cheerful accent and make you feel one-step closer to nature. Houseplants can also shed a ray of light all their own on a rainy winter day when outdoor landscapes aren’t as vibrant as they usually are in warmer months.

Plants can also provide a challenging and rewarding hobby, and improve the quality of the air in the house.  Houseplants may provide color and style to highlight the best feature of a home or cover up the problem areas you don’t want detected.

If you choose to use live plants as interior decorations, it’s important to take their requirements into account. How much light will they need? Avoid placing sun-loving plants in interior rooms unless you’re willing to hook up a special grow light for them. Will the plant require high humidity or need to be watered often? Don’t put a place a plant up so high on a shelf that it will require a 6-foot ladder to reach when watering. Pets and small children can also pose problems; because they tend to knock over pots and chew leaves — and some plants can also be dangerous to pets.

Maybe start with a large upright plant such as an Umbrella or Ficus to accent a main room. Other varieties such as ferns can grow into large bushes of foliage and provide a dramatic focal point either on a plant stand, small table, or displayed openly on the floor in a special planter.

Trailing plants such as Philodendron and English Ivy can create lovely wall or window treatments. If you have a plant ledge in your apartment, use it to show off these types of plants. If not, consider installing a high shelf along one wall so the beautiful vines can flow freely, creating an unusual work of art.

Plants that look particularly attractive in plant hangers include the Spider plant or anything that develops straggling tendrils. Where should you put them? If you have a small window, a hanging plant in front of it probably wouldn’t be a good idea unless you don’t mind having the light and view blocked out by foliage. Instead, hang plants in front of large windows as part of the window treatment, or choose a low-light plant to hang away from the window. Hangers constructed of such materials as jute can be attractive, but there are many other options to suspend your plants from the ceiling, which is an excellent alternative for those with pets or small children.

Smaller plants can also provide nice accents, perhaps placed on a bookshelf, showcased on a kitchen counter, positioned nicely in the center of the coffee table or as a dining room table centerpiece. If you want to create a more dramatic display, try putting smaller plants together in individual pots, or together in an unusual wicker basket. If you pot them together, however, group plants that have the same light and water requirements.

Most importantly, be creative and have fun. Adding plants to your home décor can create a private “indoor jungle” and who doesn’t want to look at nature every day?

Because there is a wide selection of plants to choose from — most that will grow well in any home environment — be sure to do your homework to find the ones that to suit your individual needs.