Seven Ideal Houseplants for Japandi Aesthetics in Interior Design

The concept combines Japanese artistic elements and wabi-sabi philosophy with Scandinavian comfort and coziness in design.

By: THURSD. | 06-04-2024 | 11 min read
How It Works Indoor Plants
Ideal Houseplants for Japandi Aesthetics in Interior Design

In interior design, what do you get when you unite the simplicity and elegance of the Orient and the hygge of the Occident? Well, you’d get Japandi, a concept that presents a harmonious fusion of Japanese and Scandinavian styles. This design trend embraces minimalism, natural materials, and a balanced aesthetic to create serene and relaxing living spaces.

Japandi can be defined as a blend of Japanese artistic elements and wabi-sabi philosophy with Scandinavian comfort and coziness in design. One way to incorporate its aesthetics into interior design is through a careful selection of houseplants to use to idyllically bring out the true aesthetics of this concept.

What Is the Concept of Japandi and Its Origins?

In its simple terms, Japandi design represents the marriage of two distinct philosophies; the functionality of Scandinavian design and the elegance and Zen principles of Japanese designs. It originated as a response to the fast-paced modern world when individuals sought some peace and quiet within their living spaces.


Ideal Houseplants for Japandi Aesthetics in Interior Design
Fiddle leaf fig plant in an interior design
Photo by Katja Rooke


The origins and development of this idea can be traced back to the respective design philosophies of Japan and Scandinavia. Japanese design, deeply rooted in Zen Buddhism, emphasizes simplicity, harmony, and a connection with nature. It embraces minimalism, clean lines, and the use of natural materials such as wood and stone. Traditional Japanese interiors often feature open spaces, sliding doors (shoji), and a neutral color palette to create a tranquil and balanced atmosphere.

On the other hand, Scandinavian design which emerged in the early 20th century, primarily in Nordic countries such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland sought to create functional, practical, and accessible designs. These designs celebrated craftsmanship, quality, and the use of natural materials like wood, leather, stone, and textiles. The interiors are characterized by their minimalist aesthetics, functionality, quality craftsmanship, cozy elements, light color palettes, and a strong focus on creating warm and inviting spaces.

As the convergence of these two design philosophies began to take shape they explored how simplicity, functionality, and a connection with nature could create a sense of calm and harmony within living spaces.


Ideal Houseplants for Japandi Aesthetics in Interior Design
Plants and flowers in a Japandi interior design
Photo by @japandi_interior on Instagram


The term ‘Japandi’ is itself a portmanteau, combining ‘Japan' and ‘Scandi,’ which arose as a way to define this blending of styles. It was developed sometime in the mid-1800s and gradually and organically developed over the years. It, however, gained significant recognition and popularity in the design world during the 2010s.

Its Consequent Development

Japandi design found its initial footing in Japan, where the principles of Zen and minimalism have long influenced the country's aesthetics. The concept of wabi-sabi, which celebrates imperfection and the beauty of natural aging, is deeply entrenched in Japanese culture and influenced its design principles.

As it gained traction, Japandi began to find resonance in Scandinavian design traditions. The Scandinavian style, with its emphasis on simplicity, functionality, and natural materials, naturally aligned with the principles of Japandi. Designers and homeowners in Scandinavia started incorporating elements inspired by Japanese design, such as clean lines, and minimalism into their interiors.


Ideal Houseplants for Japandi Aesthetics in Interior Design
Plant life in a Japandi-inspired interior space
Photo by @japandi_design on Instagram


The marriage of the two design philosophies led to the creation of spaces that fused the elegance and Zen principles of Japanese design with the craftsmanship, functionality, and cozy aesthetics of Scandinavian design. The resultant interiors feature a balance between minimalism and warmth, a neutral color palette, natural materials, and a sense of quiet. This fusion of designs allowed individuals to create pleasant environments that promote well-being and a mindful lifestyle.

Seven Ideal Houseplants for Japandi Aesthetics

Noteworthy is that plants and flowers play a crucial role in enhancing the serenity, tranquility, and overall mental well-being that comes with this design concept. So, here are some houseplants that would be ideal for creating the perfect Japandi aesthetics in your interior spaces.


Ideal Houseplants for Japandi Aesthetics in Interior Design
Japandi living room aesthetics by @japandi_interiors on Instagram


Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra Elatior)

The Aspidistra elatior, commonly known as the cast iron plant, is an ideal choice for Japandi interiors. It has deep green, glossy leaves that bring a dash of nature indoors while requiring minimal care. This plant thrives in low-light conditions, making it suitable for areas with limited natural light. Its qualities align perfectly with the minimalistic and low-maintenance aspects of the Japandi aesthetic.

To suitably incorporate the cast iron plant into your Japandi design, place it in a simple ceramic pot with clean lines. Position it in the Japandi-inspired interior in areas that can benefit from a touch of greenery without overwhelming the space. For example, you can have it in a corner, on a shelf, or on a minimalist side table.

The cast iron plant's upright growth habit and dense foliage create a remarkable visual presence while maintaining the clean and uncluttered look that is characteristic of Japandi design, without subduing the other elements of the design.


Ideal Houseplants for Japandi Aesthetics in Interior Design
Potted cast iron plants
Photo by Patch Plants


Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus Lyrata)

The fiddle leaf fig is a popular choice among interior designers, and its presence can certainly enhance a Japandi-inspired space. Its large, violin-shaped leaves create a visually interesting focal point, while its vibrant green color adds life to the room.

Basically, with its large, glossy leaves and sculptural shape, the fiddle leaf fig adds an elegant touch of nature's grandeur to Japandi interiors. It provides a dynamic attraction while maintaining a sense of minimalism.

To incorporate this houseplant in Japandi interior design, opt for a simple, Scandinavian-style planter in neutral tones. Place it near a window to provide ample natural light, and allow its leaves to breathe freely, giving the room a sense of vitality. This allows it to thrive and subtly serve as a centerpiece in your Japandi design


Ideal Houseplants for Japandi Aesthetics in Interior Design
The fiddle leaf fig
Photo by wirestock


Chinese Money Plant (Pilea Peperomioides)

This plant has distinct round leaves on upright stems that make it a delightful addition to a Japandi-inspired interior. The Chinese money plant symbolizes good fortune and is also often associated with positive energy. The symbolism aligns with the values of mindfulness and balance found in both Japanese and Scandinavian designs.

The plant’s clean lines and uncluttered appearance also make it a natural fit for Japandi aesthetics, plus its simple yet striking foliage balances the minimalist nature of both design philosophies. Moreover, the houseplant is relatively low-maintenance, making it a practical choice in line with Scandinavian functionality. It doesn't require extensive care and is hence suitable for busy lifestyles while maintaining the unpretentious nature of Scandinavian design.

To incorporate Pilea peperomioides into a Japandi design, place it in a simple, ceramic pot with clean lines. One can also opt for a simple, neutral-toned pot or planter that complements the Japandi color palette.


Ideal Houseplants for Japandi Aesthetics in Interior Design
The Chinese money plant in a Japandi design 
Photo by @japandi_design on Instagram


The choice of this plant maintains the clean, uncluttered lines that are essential to the design’s aesthetic and in addition, its compact size makes it suitable for side tables, shelves, or as part of a plant arrangement.

ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas Zamiifolia)

ZZ is a resilient houseplant that perfectly aligns with the Japandi aesthetic. Its glossy, dark green leaves elegantly enhance any space. Plus, this plant is known for its ability to tolerate neglect and low-light conditions, making it an excellent choice for busy individuals or rooms with limited sunlight.

The plant's glossy, dark green leaves and low light tolerance, therefore, make it a perfect addition to Japandi interiors.  It can be integrated into the design by placing it in a minimalist, white ceramic pot. Its upright growth habit makes it suitable for corners or as a statement piece on a side table. The plant can also be placed on shelves, adding depth and texture to the design.


Ideal Houseplants for Japandi Aesthetics in Interior Design
Zamioculcas zamiifolia plant
Photo by Thành Đỗ



With their diverse shapes and low-maintenance nature, succulents are an excellent choice for enhancing the Japandi aesthetic in interior design. These hardy and visually appealing plants align flawlessly with the principles of Japanese minimalism and Scandinavian functionality that define Japandi. This makes them a perfect addition to this design concept.

Succulents come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, making them inherently attractive, and their sculptural quality adds visual interest and complexity to a space while maintaining the simplicity and balance of Japandi design ideals.

These plants are known for their resilience and low-maintenance requirements which perfectly fit with the practicality and functionality aspects of Scandinavian design. Their minimal care needs align with the simplicity of Japandi design.


Ideal Houseplants for Japandi Aesthetics in Interior Design
Succulent Zebra Cactus by Jeremy Lwanga


Plus, they foster a connection to nature, which is essential in Japandi design. The presence of succulents brings a bit of the outdoors inside, promoting well-being. Many succulents, such as aloe vera, also have air-purifying properties, which align with the emphasis on well-being in Japandi design. Clean indoor air contributes to overall comfort.

What’s more, they can be creatively arranged in various containers, from minimalist pots to geometric planters, offering flexibility in design and allowing you to create compositions that suit your Japandi space.

These plants can be positioned on shelves, windowsills, or as tabletop centerpieces. The diverse shapes and colors of different succulent varieties allow you to create interesting and balanced arrangements. One may opt for simple, neutral-toned pots or planters that complement the Japandi color palette and design aesthetic. The container should enhance the clean lines and simplicity of your interior.

One can also create groupings of succulents or combine them with other Japandi houseplants and design elements that maintain simplicity. Mindfulness in their arrangement is essential, ensuring that each element in the Japandi interior serves a purpose and contributes to the overall sense of calm and balance. Also, avoid overcrowding to maintain simplicity.


Ideal Houseplants for Japandi Aesthetics in Interior Design
Houseplants in a Japandi design
Photo by @japandi_design on Instagram


Cornstalk Dracaena (Dracaena Fragrans)

The Cornstalk Dracaena is renowned for its tall, slender, and vertical growth, which embodies the clean lines and simplicity linked to both Japanese and Scandinavian design. This plant's arresting appearance, thus, adds a dash of elegance to the Japandi space.

The plant has vibrant green foliage which brings a sense of nature into the living space, a key element in the Japandi aesthetic. Its lush leaves symbolize the Japanese reverence for nature and stimulate tranquility and well-being. Its slender, arching leaves also create a sense of serene movement, while its air-purifying qualities contribute to a healthier living environment.

Much like the other houseplants suitable for Japandi, Cornstalk Dracaena is relatively low-maintenance, fitting perfectly with the practicality and functionality aspects of Scandinavian design.

One can use the plant in a simple, tall cylindrical pot in neutral tones and position it near windows or as a divider between spaces, allowing its graceful leaves to add a vertical element to the room.


Ideal Houseplants for Japandi Aesthetics in Interior Design
Cornstalk Dracaena plant
Photo by on Instagram


Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron Scandens)

Featuring heart-shaped, cascading leaves that add a hint of gentleness and grace to the Japandi interior, the Heartleaf Philodendron is a versatile plant that complements the clean lines and minimalist aesthetic characteristic of the Japandi design.

This plant is adaptable and can be placed in various ways, from hanging baskets to shelves or tabletops. Its flexibility allows for seamless incorporation in a Japandi space, achieving balance and visual interest. Its lush green foliage enhances a connection to nature, promoting the well-being and peacefulness that are characteristic of Japandi design values. The verdant leaves also symbolize Japanese appreciation of nature.

Being low-maintenance, and requiring minimal care and attention also aligns this plant with the practicality and functionality aspects of the design.

Integrating it into the design involves hanging it in a minimalist macramé hanger near a window or letting it trail along open shelves. The combination of its lush foliage and natural drape imbues the space with a soothing charm.


Ideal Houseplants for Japandi Aesthetics in Interior Design
Philodendron scandens by @bloomie_studio on Instagram


What Are the Benefits of Plants in Japandi Designs?

Japandi aesthetics isn't just about looks but also promotes well-being. The minimalist and balanced approach, for instance, promotes a sense of calm and tranquility, creating a peaceful space within homes. The integration of houseplants further enhances these benefits.

Many of the select houseplants are known for their air-purifying qualities. They help remove toxins and increase oxygen levels, creating a healthier indoor environment. The snake plant for example is also a very good de-humidifier when placed in your bathroom.

Also, the presence of nature and greenery has been proven to reduce stress levels and encourage relaxation. The carefully chosen houseplants in Japandi design contribute to a relaxing air, allowing occupants to unwind and find solace within the living spaces.


Ideal Houseplants for Japandi Aesthetics in Interior Design
Houseplants in a Japandi design
Photo by Minh Pham


Likewise, studies show that exposure to natural elements, including indoor plants, can boost mood and productivity. Japandi concept’s incorporation of houseplants creates an environment that nurtures a positive mindset and inspires focus and creativity. The choice of houseplants also connects occupants to nature, encouraging a sense of calmness and well-being.

So, why not try this design concept, introducing these houseplants for a more rewarding experience?


Feature image by Minh Pham, header image by Claudia Schmalz



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