Discover how houseplants are used in films to evoke emotions and set the mood of a scene. This article explores the symbolism, portrayal, and representation of houseplants in different genres, revealing their impact on viewers and the cultural significance they hold. From drama to horror, comedy to fantasy, houseplants play a significant role in enhancing the atmosphere and storytelling of movies. Dive into the world of houseplants in movies and appreciate their subtle yet powerful influence on the cinematic experience.


Have you ever noticed how houseplants are often used as a subtle yet powerful tool in films to evoke certain emotions and set the mood of a scene? It’s fascinating how these living organisms can play such a significant role in storytelling and visual aesthetics. In this blog post, we will explore the impact of houseplants on the mood in films and how they contribute to the overall atmosphere. By examining the symbolism, portrayal, and representation of houseplants in different genres, we’ll gain a deeper understanding of their effects on viewers and the cultural significance they hold. So, grab your favorite plant-themed mug, sit back, and let’s dive into the world of houseplants in movies.

The Symbolic Power of Houseplants

Houseplants have a rich history of symbolism, representing various elements such as growth, life, nature, hope, and rejuvenation. In films, these symbols are often used to enhance the audience’s emotional connection to the story and characters. For example, the oak tree in the film Passengers represents a transformation of the spaceship into a natural oasis, providing increased oxygen levels for the passengers[^1]. Similarly, the delicate sapling in the movie WALL-E symbolizes the hope and importance of preserving nature and biodiversity[^1].

In other films, houseplants are used to represent the emotional state or journey of a character. In Leon: The Professional, the Aglaonema plant adds color and life to a dreary room, symbolizing hope and the redemptive powers of nature[^1]. In Guillermo del Toro’s film, The Devil’s Backbone, the ghostly presence of a child’s ghost is accompanied by the growth of a rosebush, representing innocence amidst the horrors of war[^5].

Houseplants and Atmosphere in Different Genres

The impact of houseplants on the atmosphere of a film can vary depending on the genre. Let’s take a closer look at how houseplants are portrayed and affect the mood in different genres:


In dramatic films, houseplants can be used to create a sense of intimacy and connection. They often serve as symbols of solace or an escape from emotional turmoil. For example, in the film The Secret Garden, the neglected garden and its revival through the care of the young protagonist reflect her own emotional journey towards healing and happiness[^8]. Houseplants in dramas can also represent the nurturing and caring nature of characters, emphasizing their emotional depth.


Houseplants in comedic films can serve as a source of amusement or irony. For instance, in the movie Little Shop of Horrors, the character Audrey II is a carnivorous plant that quickly grows out of control, providing comedic relief and contributing to the absurdity of the story[^9]. The exaggerated nature of these plants adds an element of surprise and captures the audience’s attention.

Science Fiction:

Houseplants in science fiction films often represent the connection between humanity and the natural world. In The Martian, the protagonist Mark Watney relies on his knowledge of plants to survive on Mars, specifically nurturing a crop of potatoes[^1]. The presence of plants in a barren and hostile environment denotes resilience, adaptation, and the potential for humanity to overcome challenges.


In horror films, houseplants can be used to create tension and enhance the eerie atmosphere. The presence of overgrown or aggressive plants can symbolize a loss of control or the intrusion of nature into human spaces. For example, in the film The Ruins, a group of tourists encounters a malevolent vine that terrorizes and consumes its victims[^10]. The relentless growth and invasive nature of the plant contribute to the sense of dread and impending doom.


Houseplants in fantasy films often take on magical or mystical qualities. They can represent a portal to another world or serve as protectors of hidden knowledge. In the Harry Potter series, the Whomping Willow acts as a guardian of the secret entrance to the wizarding school, Hogwarts[^8]. Its animated branches and aggressive behavior add an element of danger and excitement to the story.


Houseplants are more than just decorative elements in films. They hold a symbolic power that can enhance the mood, atmosphere, and storytelling of a movie. Whether they represent hope, growth, comfort, or awe, houseplants contribute to the emotional journey of characters and viewers alike. As we’ve seen, their portrayal and impact on mood vary across different genres, amplifying the thematic elements and creating a deeper connection to the story.

Next time you watch a film, pay attention to the presence and role of houseplants. You may be surprised at the subtle yet significant influence they have on the overall cinematic experience. So, the next time you find yourself engrossed in a captivating movie, take a moment to appreciate the power of houseplants and their ability to transport you to different worlds, evoke emotions, and enrich the visual landscape of storytelling.


[^1]: The power of plants in film – Film and Furniture. (n.d.). Retrieved from <a href=”“>](
[^5]: No One Will Save You’s Secret Meaning Revealed By Guillermo del Toro, Stunning Hulu Movie’s Director – ScreenRant. (n.d.). Retrieved from <a href=”“>](
[^8]: 5 film scenes which make inspiring use of plants – Film and Furniture. (n.d.). Retrieved from <a href=”“>](
[^9]: Our five favourite plants and trees in films – Greener Spaces Better Places. (n.d.). Retrieved from <a href=”“>](
[^10]: 15 Best Gardening Movies of All Time. (n.d.). Retrieved from <a href=”“>](