In 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.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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!