In an aquarium where you want plants (i.e., with fish that won't view them as gourmet salad), live plants are beneficial far beyond mere appearance. The filtration they perform far outpaces any filter. I'll bore other members if I repeat what I've posted previously, so you may like to have a read of the last two paragraphs on plant filtration in my post in this thread: http://www.fishforum.com/freshwater-...ishless-27878/
Maintaining healthy plants is no more difficult that healthy fish. It jsut requires a knowledge of the basics and providing the few essentials. Your comment about plants staying where you put them is very suitable to a "low-tech" planted tank such as what I maintain (have a look at the photos under "My Aquariums" to see what's possible). Some might argue this is a bit above true low-tech, since heat and light is provided; but its still very basic and simple.
Plants require light and nutrients, and these must be in balance to provide the right conditions and prevent algae from taking over. Nutrients includes carbon dioxide (CO2, provided by the fish alone) and macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients [provided in liquid fertilization].
Light is the most imortant factor. Without adequate light (in intensity and duration) no plant will grow. Full spectrum fluorescent light (there are several manufacturers of good tubes) on for 8-12 hours each day (minimum 8, longer is your preference) is required, at 1-2 watts per gallon. Liquid fertilizer may or may not be necessary, but generally is; Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Plant Supplement is one of the best; 1/2 teaspoon treats 30g once a week, or sometimes twice [this depends upon the light and available CO2 from the fish]. This one provides all the necessary macro- and micro-nutrients and in the necessary porportion that plants require.
Plants that will grow well under these conditions include rooted plants like swords, crypts, vallisneria, sagitarria, aponegetons; rhizome plants like Anubias, Java Fern; floating plants; and some stem plants. Stem plants require the most light and nutrients because they are the fastest growing plants, but they also require more maintainance (trimming, replanting) because of this higher growth rate. The rooted and rhizome plants basically grow slowly but well where you plant them. All the plants in my aquaria are these, except for the stem plant Brazilian Pennywort at the rear corners of the 90g in the photos.
Substrate additives are not essential, but a plant tab or stick inserted next to the larger sword plants will improve their growth--but they still stay put. Substrate can be gravel (the smalest grain size is best) or sand depending upon what you want for your fish.
I can suggest some fluorescent tubes and may have more suggestions on light once we know the fixture you'll have over your tank. Tubes come in standard wattages dependant upon the tube length, and there must be sufficient tubes to provide the amount of light needed. I have two 40w tubes over each of my tanks, which is approximately 1 watt per gallon.
Hope this helps start you down the road to a successful planted aquarium.