Outdoor dining is seeing a huge resurgence as restaurants find new ways to welcome diners. Many companies are now investing in expansive patio seating areas complete with decorative commercial planters and other features to make the space feel more like a natural oasis.
A whopping 88% of diners said that they would likely choose a restaurant based on a recommendation from friends and family over online reviews, so you really have to nail your decor if you want customers to become promoters.
The 5 best plants for restaurant decor
Plants really help a restaurant, whether they are for decoration or for improving the air quality. But what to choose for your restaurant?
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Violas and Lady fern combo
These are a fantastic duo for winter and spring,’ says expert gardener Sarah Raven. ‘Both these plants are hardy and will cheer you along through to the early months of the next year.’.
They are especially good for restaurant decor outdoor as violas are colorful and both of them are easy to grow.
The fast-growing varieties grown as garden plants are mostly small-flowered annuals or short-lived perennials. Many will self-seed and give you years of delight.
Unexpectedly, they are edible so feel free to try them as salad ingredients. They can also be candied for a frosted effect or used to decorate cakes or other confections.
Also known as “female fern”, it is said to be feminine because of its elegant and graceful appearance.
The individual frond stalks of the attractive fern are a red to purple color. Finely-textured, feathered fronds grow up to 3 feet wide and from 1 to 3 feet long with a gentle green color. Tiny, filmy leaflets give lady fern its delicate, elegant appearance.
2. Japanese maple
Japanese maple trees can provide a striking focal point to your patio design, be the perfect plant to set off a large container, or grow into an impressive bonsai specimen. Plus they suit northernly regions due to their beautiful
There are hundreds of Japanese maple varieties for you to choose from. They come in various sizes with a large assortment of leaf shapes and colors that range from shades of green to orange, red, purple, and variegated.
Most Japanese maples grow at a slow to moderate rate of 1 to 2 feet per year. They typically grow fastest when they are young and slow down as they reach maturity. They also love bright light and thrive in full sun.
Tulips come in different shapes, colors and textures. You can’t go wrong with tulips!
These brightly colored jewels should be planted in the fall so that they can brighten our days in early spring. For example, they add an interesting texture to a green wall.
The most well-known meaning of tulips is perfect and deep love. As tulips are a classic flower that has been loved by many for centuries, they are attached to the meaning of love. So what’s better than a fine dinner with a loved one next to these magnificent plants?
Begonias have been around for ages, why? Well, this easy-to-grow annual does well in a variety of conditions and needs little to thrive.
There is no need for bright light as they can grow in low light conditions. But they require rich well-drained soil, ample water, and plenty of fertilizer—then, they will give you stunning flowers and foliage.
With so many different shapes, sizes, and colors, begonias have no problem taking the spotlight in any restaurant patio setting.
Also known as zonal or regal geranium, the appearance of these small plants in garden centers in late spring seems to set off a planting frenzy that coincides with Mother’s Day.
They are a staple for hanging planters, summer bedding, and greenhouse displays. They have terminal clusters of flowers with 5 petals, which may be shaped like saucers, stars, butterflies, trumpets, or funnels.
With their gorgeous green leaves and fabulous vibrant flowers, these summer beauties are not just bursting with colour but are low maintenance too, which is what makes them so popular, especially for beginners. They need direct sunlight in order to grow, just as the others.
With these plants in your outdoor setting, you will stand out and impress customers!
6. Spider plants
Spider plants are our favorite choice for restaurants and bars because of their low-light tolerance. It is one of the hardiest indoor plants and most exuberant indoor specimens.
These plants do well with bright light too but avoid putting them under direct sunlight as they might get scorched. They need water on a regular basis, so water them liberally.
How to use plants in restaurants for effective results
1. Pick plants that complement your patio
Just like all other elements, plants should also play a key role, along with other decorations, to make a coherent design. While there are some plants that suit modern patios, some work best with a traditional look, such as heavily blooming flowers or foliages with rounded shapes.
Your intended aesthetic should be taken into consideration when choosing the right plant. For example, if yours is a Mediterranean restaurant, plants with Scandinavian looks or plants celebrating tropical beauty might not be the best choice. While basil, rosemary and thyme have all great visual appeal and can create a wonderful Mediterranean garden in your restaurant.
2. Add romance, coziness and privacy
For restaurants that want to capitalize on romantic moonlit dinners, adding plants can also help cozy up the space.
Here, planters do really well to help bring the best out of your plants. Well-placed planters can help screen diners from other guests, giving them privacy and comfort. Trellises with vines and hanging plants also make for good screens. If your cafe patio currently feels dry and uninspired, colorful planters full of flowers can really dress it up overnight.
3. Add lighting for visual effect
Plants and lights are a match made in heaven. If you want to take full advantage of the beauty of your plants, emphasize their colors or unique shapes with directional light. Plants placed in a space warmed up by soft dimmed lights or in a dark corner with spotlights, the combination can be stunning.
Another option is to mix plants with lights, such as simple string lights. When it comes to spending a nice dinner, having a lush display of well-lit greenery will instantly increase the aesthetic value of your restaurant or cafe and well-positioned light will create that stage.
4. Think big – think outside the box
Plants should not be just an afterthought in your general design. In fact, they can become the principal actor and the focal point of your interior.
A ceiling heavy with climbing plants can create a romantic or out-of-this-world look. A tree or a shrub brought inside may break visual expectations and make for breathtaking decor. A green wall can add depth and dimension without having you sacrifice valuable space.
So be creative! Wow your customer with your creativity and it becomes extremely easy to create an atmosphere that brings repeat business.
5. Use planters to keep your display tidy
Outdoor planters, containers and pots are the perfect way to instantly spruce up your garden
With outdoor planters, you can enhance your landscape and create a beautiful garden display. Garden planters are available in a variety of different shapes, colours and materials so it’s easy to create a stunning display of shrubs and flowers with little maintenance involved.
6. Create a theme
Planters come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. They can be used as creative accents alongside other decor to form a cohesive theme. For instance, tall rectangular and square boxes offer a super-modern touch to any industrial-style cafe or restaurant. On the other hand, fishbowl and rolled rimmed planters create more of a relaxed and boho look.
7. Bring in Color
Too many restaurant patios give off the feel of concrete jungles. By adding planters throughout the space, your patio will feel warm and welcoming to diners. Cold, empty patios are not very inviting to diners who want to enjoy a cozy meal. Planters help fill some of the open space with natural color and definition.
8. Incorporate water features
Waterfalls are another grand gesture that can seriously make your patio a hot gathering spot for guests of all ages. However, a waterfall or fountain by itself usually looks out of place. Many restaurants are using planters to build out around a fountain or waterfall to create a complete look. The gentle sound of the water falling is soothing for customers, and the plants can help disguise any unsightly pumps or framework that makes the fountain work.
Jay Scotts Best Restaurant Planters
Want to see our planters in action?
Check out our project for Pura Vida, a health and decor-conscious restaurant in Miami, Florida that came to us with a challenge: create a private patio area that draws in diners while offering peace and tranquillity once inside. Take a look at our solution!
Frequently asked questions
1. How much attention do I need for my plants?
The answer for plant care is as much as possible. If it looks like you don’t care enough to keep your plants alive and watered, what other details are you missing in your business? Is the cutlery cleaned properly? How about the tables? At least this is what runs through the mind of a customer.
Dead plants can really ruin a customer’s mood and make them never come back. So be careful! Know what to do with the plants that you bought. For example, succulents are very sensitive to overwatering, damp soil can cause root rot, and not enough water can scorch the leaves of your customer pulling plants.
Related article: Indoor gardening for beginners
2. Are artificial plants as good?
Well, sometimes, when it’s not easy to choose real plants, a fake one isn’t a really bad choice. Artificial plants nowadays are really hard to identify from the real thing. You can also mix them with real flowers to trick the eye.
Though artificial houseplants can cost a little more, they are a one-time investment and there is no need for maintenance other than the occasional dusting. If you don’t have the time to maintain your green space, at least artificial plants look better than dead houseplants.
3. Should I train my staff to take care of my coffee shop houseplants?
Yes, definitely. However, don’t expect your staff to be experts. So, designate someone to take care of them (with instructions), or create a houseplant rota.
Watering is the most obvious routine to keep in mind, but you should also make sure you remove dead leaves, dust the larger plants (a wet rag should be enough) and rotate the plants if they’re getting too leggy. Instruct them to pay attention to each type of plant; which one needs direct sunlight, which one needs watering just once a day. In the end, a well-kept plant alludes to great customer care and service.
Using plant greenery in your restaurant benefits your employees too. Plants have been proven to keep employees happy and relaxed. With an estimated hiring cost of $2000 dollars per server, and $15000 for a manager, plants ultimately may save you a lot of time and money.
4. Do plants attract more customers?
With the COVID-19 quarantine in effect, some people are scared of dining at restaurants.
Customers need an inviting and joyful atmosphere to escape the daily scenery of their own homes. Plants can be an easy solution to that problem.
People don’t just go to restaurants for the food, they go there for the ambience as well. That is why giving customers that inviting atmosphere is vital to bringing them back.
Apart from an inviting indoor space, a beautiful garden where they enjoy food is also ideal for a date.
Plants are also natural air purifiers, which gives customers a sense of ease knowing that a restaurant with many plants has cleaner air. Plants remove toxins and take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to produce oxygen, improving the air quality.
From a restauranters perspective, 91% use Facebook, and 79% use Instagram, for online marketing and customer acquisition. The best way to improve your insta game? Use those plants for decor. I bet your competitors are.
5. What kind of planters are the best for my plants?
There really are so many great things about fiberglass plant containers, but there are a few big reasons why they are preferred by everyday gardeners, landscapers and professional growers.
For starters, unlike metal pots or stone planters, fiberglass garden containers are impressively lightweight. This allows you to move them around in the garden, on the patio, indoors or in the rooftop bar with ease.
They’re also weather-resistant. While plastic pots dry and crack, metal planters rust and wooden containers splinter, fiberglass pots and planters are strong enough to withstand the elements. They’re rust-proof, shatterproof and frost-resistant. This of course means that you can leave the containers outdoors when it’s snowing, raining or if it is bright and sunny.
See how fiberglass stands up to other traditional planter materials.
If you’re keen to level up your restaurant decor and drive customers, see our full range of fiberglass planters, or download the full catalogue below.
For sales, give us a call or request a quote and let us show you the fantastic planters that could be adorning your green and thriving restaurant soon. Or, start picking out the perfect colors and finishes that will continue to grace your restaurant patio for years to come.