Feng Shui and Plants – For Home and Work

CompassIn this previous post on Crassula ovata or jade plants, I mentioned feng shui (pronounced “fung shway”). Although people loved the information on the jade plant, there was also interest in how to use succulents in feng shui, so today, I’m going more in-depth about feng shui and plants for your home and office space.

What is Feng Shui?

Feng means “wind” and Shui means “water”. In Chinese culture, the wind brings in the positive energy (chi) and disperses the bad while water holds positive energy in place.

There are a few main beliefs that influence the practice of feng shui:

  • Our homes (and other environments) reflects who we are
  • The space we are in affects us
  • It involves arranging our environment so positive energy flows freely (each individual room and the overall building)
  • Uses the five elements of wood, earth, fire, metal, and water to help the energy flow
  • Everything has energy – people, plants, pets, even furniture, and all non-living things
  • The flow of energy has a direct impact on our health, wealth, relationships, and overall happiness
  • The actual act of caring for plants increases our positive energy
  • Takes into account how different shapes impact us
  • It divides our space into nine areas (called Bagua) with each area being responsible for one of the following:
    • Wealth, Abundance, and Prosperity
    • Fame, Reputation, and Social Life
    • Love, Relationships, and Partnerships
    • Family, Community, and Health
    • Children, Projects, Fun, and Creativity
    • Knowledge, Wisdom, Rest, and Growth
    • Career, Work, and Life’s Mission
    • Travel, Helpful People, and Compassion
    • The center space is yin yang – it ties everything together

Is That All?

No, there are actually two different ways to approach feng shui. The first is the traditional or classical way and the second is the Western or BTB way.

The traditional/classic way is based on dividing your Bagua (eight areas) by specific compass readings starting at the front door.

BTB stands for Black sect Tantric Buddhist School and was brought to the USA by Professor Lin Yun in the 1980s. Professor Yun combined modern education including medicine, architecture, psychology, interior design, and others with the ancient teachings of Yin-Yang philosophy, holistic healing, and more.

He taught at several universities including San Francisco University and Stanford University. He founded two Yun Lin Temple’s, one in Berkeley, California in 1986 and the other in Long Island, New York in 1994.

The western/BTB method is done by using a grid of the eight areas (Bagua) and aligning the bottom row with your front door.


Traditional & Western Feng Shui by Home Succulents

From what I researched, the western method is easier to get started with and then as people learn more, they (usually) switch to the traditional method. It is also best not to mix the two methods.

How Do The Five Elements Fit Into This?

I wondered the same thing!

First, let’s review the five elements.

We will start with fire:

  • Represented by reds, oranges, and yellows (all colors found in a fire) plus purples and pinks
  • Its direction is South (if using the traditional feng shui method)
  • Its season is summer (hottest time of the year)
  • It represents energy, passion, transformation, and explosiveness
  • Can be represented in your home by using a candle (actual fire) and/or color
  • Fire creates earth (everything goes back to ashes) and overcomes (melts) metal
  • Also can be represented by the triangle shape

Wood:

  • Represented by browns and greens – not pastels
  • Its direction is east and southeast (if using the traditional feng shui method)
  • Its season is spring (new growth)
  • It represents inspiration, growth, new beginnings, flexibility, and life
  • Can be represented in your home by all plants (living and healthy) and/or color
  • Wood creates fire (literally) and overcomes (goes into) earth
  • Also can be represented by tall shapes

Water:

  • Represented by blues and black
  • Its direction is North (if using the traditional feng shui method)
  • Its season in winter
  • It represents the flow of money and work, the flowing waters help you let go of what you no longer need and still waters are for calmness. It also represents fluidity and wisdom.
  • Can be represented in your home by a water feature (fish tank, fountain), pictures of water, and/or color
  • Water creates wood (vital for plant life) and overcomes (puts out) fire
  • Also can be represented by wavy shapes

Metal:

  • Represented by white and greys
  • Its direction is west and northwest (if using the traditional feng shui method)
  • Its season in fall
  • It represents joy, efficiency, focus, and unifies all the elements (like a transmitter)
  • Can be represented in your home by actual metal and/or color
  • Metal creates water (condensation) and overcomes wood (used in tools to chop down trees)
  • Also can be represented by circular shapes

Earth:

  • Represented by light brown, orange, yellow (sandy color) – muted colors
  • Its direction is center, northeast, and southwest (if using the traditional feng shui method)
  • Its season is the end of summer
  • It represents stability and security, nourishment, and comfort
  • Can be represented in your home by old pottery, old books, and rock features (sculptures or statues) and/or color
  • Earth creates metal (metal is in the earth) and overcomes water (holds water in its place)
  • Also can be represented by squares

Each element creates or strengthens an element while also overcoming or destroying another element.

The picture represents the order they should be laid out in your space to create the best chi (positive energy/flow).

Now The Succulents and Plants

Whew, it is a lot to take in!

From what we have learned, we know that succulents (living plants) fall under the wood category. The basic process would be to place a plant in an area you want a new beginning, flexibility, and growth especially areas associated with the wood element. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid plants in all the other areas, plants bring calmness and clean the air, as this study shows, so just use smaller ones if in doubt.

Additional tips:

  • It is better to have a healthy non feng shui plant than an unhealthy feng shui approved one
  • It’s all about balance – you want a proportion of all the elements – not heavy on the plants
  • The overall size of the plant should be determined by the balance to other elements
  • Plants bring nature in and help to diminish hard furniture and all the straight lines of a home or office
  • Silk plants are okay in areas that a real plant will not grow but they should be kept clean
  • The plants can be used to attract positive energy and also counteract negative energy
    • Cacti are not considered feng shui approved unless they are placed in an area to reduce negative energy

Feng Shui approved plants:

  • Crassula ovata – Jade plant – as discussed here – since they are a money plant, placing them in your office is a great idea
  • Sansevieria trifasciata – Mother-in-law’s tongue – as discussed here – this plant is said to give off protective energy so the entranceways and offices are great locations for this one
  • Spiral Bamboo – has all five elements so it can go anywhere
  • Boston Fern – because of it’s air cleaning abilities
  • Philodendron – because their leaves look like fire, place them in a home or office area you want to warm up
  • Aloe – because of it’s healing properties
  • Ficus elastica – Rubber Tree – great for abundance and wealth due to leaf size
  • Potted citrus tree – citrus trees are a symbol of wealth, abundance, and good fortune, by having one located in that area of your home, you are inviting it in

There seemed to be some conflicting schools of thought on the plants. I read one site that said to avoid small and pointy leaves but then also listed plants that have small and pointy leaves. Another site said all succulents were okay while another said only the above were okay.

If you do want to take the practice a little further, consider planting in a pot that would give you two elements in one. For example, the plant is wood, plant it in a red pot to represent fire. You now have wood and fire.

My thought is, if you place a plant somewhere in your home or office and it makes you happy, leave it, it is doing its job.

Conclusion

Whatever your thoughts on Feng Shui are it does make for an attractive room since it is all about organization, being neat and clean, and visually appealing.

This is a brief overview of Feng Shui, I wanted to give you enough to get you started with plants but there is so much more to it, so if you want to learn more, check out an authoritative site like:

The one founded by Professor Lin Yun – http://www.yunlintemple.org/fengshui

Feng Shui Institute – https://www.feng-shui-institute.org

As always, do your own research on these schools.

Plants have been proven scientifically to make us feel better no matter where they are or what kind they are so using them to bring joy and clean air to your home and office.

Images can also be found under “Infographics”.

I would love to hear if you have heard of or practice Feng Shui. Do you love it? Do you think the placement of items affects your life? Questions, thoughts, or comments, put them below!

20 Responses

  1. Hello there thanks for putting out this article as I would be of great help to the people I never knew about this beliefs especially these twoOur homes (and other environments) reflects who we are,The space we are in affects us
    It involves arranging our environment so positive energy flows freely (each individual room and the overall building)after reading this I understood everything about the 5 elements I have been hearing about.

  2. Hey there, I am completety lost and beginner into Feng Shui, I have always heard many good things about it but never before had the chance to read and study it myself.

    So thanks a lot for such extensive post, I am just starting to plan on how I will combine the elements into my house and rooms! 

    One thing that makes me confused is if I should align the directions with the real south, or just assume my door is south and then go following from there…

    It was never so clear to me how the elements have meaning and how they should be aligned.So thank you very much again for collecting all this information and taking your time to share this knowledge with us! 

    Keep up the good work and hope to read from you soon again!

    • Hi Luiz,

      Great question! If you follow the western practice, stand at your front door with the western map (on the computer is fine) and go from there.

      If you follow the traditional practice, you will need to find which direction is north from your front door, t is best not to assume which direction is south, the practice states you should use a compass.

      Most people follow the western practice, to begin with, because it is much simpler.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

      Lisa

  3. I am a Chinese born Thai and moved to the U.S. and I have to say that I love the Feng Sui concept. Both my parents follow it religiously and I have to say, they thrive in what they do. I know only the basics like I am not supposed to put the mirror by the door or the bed is not supposed be right by the door etc. I personally love to put the mother in law’s tongue in my bedroom. Not only that it is good for energy but it is a perfect plant to put in the bedroom when you sleep because it emits oxygen. 

    Thank you so much for an awesome post 🙂

    • Hi,

      Oh, that is interesting!

      Thanks for commenting on your experience with Feng Shui and the mother in law’s tongue!

      Glad you enjoyed the article!

      Lisa

  4. Hi, 

    This was a great read! It’s interesting to see how the eight areas are divided, as I’ve never thought about it that way. Even worse: I’ve never heard of Feng Shui before reading this article! However, you have encouraged me to learn more about it.

    I currently have 4 plants in my living area. To be honest, I have no idea whether they are Feng Shui approved plants, but like you say: they make me happy, so they’re probably doing their job! 

    Thanks again! 

    • Hi Kevin,

      It is interesting, regardless of beliefs, because it puts importance on a neat, clean and organized room which makes for a peaceful environment.

      LOL, yep, happy is always good!

      Thanks for posting!

      Lisa

  5. Hi, I was wondering if FengShui plants are newbie friendly? Can I get that are a regular place like Walmart or do I have to buy it online? I only have a bamboo plant that was a gift from my sister when I moved into my new place.

    Bamboos do not require soil. Do the Feng shut plants require soil, and how often do I need to water them and change the soil?

    • Hi Jake,

      The jade plant is very newbie-friendly as is the snake plant. I have done an infographic on both that can help you with the basics, there are more in-depth articles on the site too but these should get you started:

      https://homesucculents.com/crassula-ovata-jade-plant-infographic/

      https://homesucculents.com/sansevieria-trifasciata/

      They both do need soil but only need repotting about every 2-3 years so it lasts a while! As far as watering, only about every 10-12 days. Always err on the side of under watering vs. overwatering. If the leaves start looking wrinkled, water more often.

      The jade can usually be found at a nursery or sometimes Walmart but I have also seen both online at Amazon and Etsy.

      Thanks for the questions!

      Lisa

  6. Amazing and great use of your article. Soon we would move to a new home and my wife would definitely want some tips on space shaping and emitting positive energy from the objects in the home. He has read a lot about feng shui and believes very much that plants play an important role in maintaining home health and abundance, especially aloe. It is a plant that adores it for all its properties. Where this plant could be placed. For example in the lounge or in the bedroom? Thanks. I’ll show her your article and she’ll be thrilled.

    • Hi,

      Yes, the aloe is great! 

      Well, that is an interesting question…you would place the aloe in one of the “wood” areas of your home but most feng shui teachers think the aloe plant has healing properties and can be placed in any room of your home.

      I think it is a great air cleaning plant and placing it anywhere you need some greenery would be fine.

      Thanks for commenting and good luck with your new home!

      Lisa

  7. What a great article personally I have never come across the word Feng Shui, buy having gone through your article I really learnt alot like it’s meaning in English plus its importance and how it should be treated, I believe it must be a special plant, I would really like to know more about this and other related articles, due to that I will have to subscribe to your newsfeed and I am sure soon or later I will come across another post from you, also I will be happy to learn more Chinese words I really appreciate you for sharing this post.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Joy,

      I’m so glad you found the article helpful! Feng Shui is an interesting practice and I’m glad so many succulents fit into it.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Lisa

  8. Hi thanks for this informative post. I’ve long been interested in Feng Shui but I am not an expert and thanks to this post, I now know a lot more. It was a lot of information and I will be reading it again. I agree completely that our home, work spaces, etc need to be well balanced and I know Feng Shui principles can provide some helpful guidance. I’m still getting it right and to be honest it gets tricky with children around 🙂 Thank you

    • Hi Steve,

      LOL, I can imagine that it would be tricky with kiddos around! 

      It is a very in-depth process, something that can be an ongoing study!

      Glad you found the article helpful!

      Let me know if you have any questions.

      Thanks,

      Lisa

  9. Hi,

    I must say that feng shui is not something my wife and I have ever discussed. However, after reading your article I am sure it is something we shall consider in the future. The first thing we shall be doing is getting some new plants. As we live in a flat its is something we are short of. Your article on “succulents” is very interesting. I did then begin to wonder which kind of plants are suitable for indoors. Your links provided with me with the answer. 

    Your website is very informative and you have done exactly what you have set out to do. My wife may take a bit of persuasion to start looking into the feng shui, but we have already agreed on a shopping trip to brighten up the house with your relevant plants. Many thanks for your article.

    • Hi David,

      I’m so glad you are encouraged to get some plants! Succulents are easy to care for so they shouldn’t be much trouble at all!

      Thanks for commenting and let me know if you have any questions!

      Lisa

  10. How Feng Shui works remain a whole world of mystery to me. During Chinese New Year, there will be a lot of predictions based on feng shui and astrology. Do the principles of feng shui contradict or complement modern interior architecture?

    From my understanding, feng shui creates harmony with nature by balancing positive energy with negative energy, thus overriding the negative effects with only positive benefits. Planting different types of approved feng shui plants in the home do have a profound effect on the occupants. You mentioned having a potted citrus tree is a symbol of wealth and will attract good fortune. No wonder, at every Chinese New Year, there will be lots of potted orange trees being sold at the nurseries. Do the trees need to bear fruits to be a good symbol of fortune. What happens to the fruits after Chinese New year celebrations end?

    Anyway, the art of feng shui is worth exploring and made easy for ordinary folks. 

     

    • Hi,

      Great questions! 

      There are some architectures and interior designers that plan with the principles of Feng Shui. 

      Also, Feng Shui is all about movement, light, and placement so because of that, I would say it complements the modern interior architecture. Modern meaning the last 20 years or so depending on the city.  Most buildings from the ’80s or ’90s and back would have been built on function and not style. This is a broad statement, of course, there are exceptions.

      Many people keep citrus trees (especially lemon) in their home, in pots/planters and my understanding is that it does not need to bear fruit to be a good symbol of fortune.

      Hope this helped and please let me know if you have other questions.

      Thanks,

      Lisa

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