Originally used to identify plant species in Victorian times, today botanical prints make an eye-catching display. Our guide looks at the history of botanical prints, how to display in your home and the best places to buy...


What is the history of botanical prints in Britain?

As well as being beautifully detailed works of art, botanical prints were used in the Victorian times as detailed records of individual plant species. Photography was not invented until the 1830s, so the only way to satisfy the growing interest in botany and horticulture was to draw it.

At the time, botanical drawing was seen as a natural science. The intricate images are now preserved in collections held at Kew Gardens, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and RHS Lindley Library.

Botanical print
Botanical print of an onion (Getty)

How to decorate with botanical prints

Create a grouped collection in a gallery wall

Gallery of picture frames
Create a gallery wall for a dramatic effect (Getty)

Group a collection of botanical prints to create a feature wall in a living room or bedroom. Take the time to measure the wall and mark where each print must be hung for the final grouping to look symmetrical and level. For a more contemporary look, use a mix of differently sized pictures and frames.

Consider colour and balance

Think about the colour and balance when mixing prints with patterned wallpapers and fabrics. Contrast the intricate detail of the prints with bold, abstract patterns. For a contemporary feel, go for fresh ground colours.

Get creative and experiment

Have fun with scale and have a detail from a botanical print blown up to create a large, almost abstract canvas to use as the focal point of a room.

Experiment with different styles of picture frames to create either a contemporary or traditional feel, depending on the look you want to achieve. Use pared-back mounts in colours that contrast with the prints for a more modern aesthetic.

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Where to buy botanical prints

You can also find them at many an antiques fair and, when paired with a decorative frame and a gentle colour scheme, they create a standout summer display.

Botanical Print Collections


Botanical Print Books & Websites

  • The Golden Age of Botanical Art by Martyn Rix (Andre Deutsch, 2012)
  • The Golden Age of Flowers: Botanical Illustration in the Age of Discovery 1600-1800 by Celia Fisher (British Library Publishing Division, 2011)
  • Handbook of Plant Forms for Botanical Artists by Margaret Stevens and Ernest E Clark (Batsford, 2013)
  • The Society of Botanical Artists