When carefully selected, artificial plants look just as good as their natural counterparts – without the need for water, fertiliser, or light, and with very little maintenance. Here’s how to choose, clean and arrange your fake plants to achieve a highly convincing result.
How to decorate with artificial plants
Artificial plants add greenery and life to the space, even when the room receives very little natural light.
Plastic plants vs fabric
Thanks to advances in manufacturing technology, artificial plastic plants and trees closely mimic the appearance, texture, and colours of their natural counterparts. Some models are filled with foam so that even by touch it is difficult to distinguish the real from the fake.
Fabric reproductions (usually silk) are more delicate. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight or cleaning them with water, both of which can damage the pigments in just a few months.
As with most manufactured goods, budgeting more will result in a better-quality product and a more convincing finish.
Choosing the right varieties of artificial plants
Some leafy plants’ natural versions look like plastic. Aloe, fiddle-leaf fig, lotus, and palms, as well as Asian varieties such as bamboo can be particularly realistic. You can also opt for dried grasses, such as an autumnal bouquet of pampas grass.
Match your specimens to your decor. In a boho-glam room, palm trees are reminiscent of sunny California. A slender bamboo and a stubby fig tree coexist well in a Japandi environment, which combines Scandinavian design and Japanese lifestyle.
Avoid artificial plant designs that try to do too much. Fake dewdrops or a high-gloss finish make you want to look closer – the opposite of what you want. Stay away from perfectly symmetrical artificial plants and trees that would not be found in nature.
How to clean artificial plants
Dust accumulation is the main indicator that a plant is artificial. Dust the leaves once a week using a feather duster or microfiber cloth to maintain the illusion of the real thing.
Every six months or so, refresh your artificial plants with a more thorough cleaning using one of the following methods.
Cleaning artificial plants in the shower or outside
Here is a simple method for your transportable specimens.
- Gather them in the shower or outside.
- Protect the parts that need to stay dry (such as decorative stones or potted fake earth) in a garbage bag sealed with packing tape.
- Dust the leaves with a feather duster or microfiber cloth to remove some of the dust.
- Using the shower head or garden hose, rinse the surfaces with cold water.
- Towel dry or, if your model is sun resistant, air dry.
Cleaning artificial plants “leaf by leaf”
If you prefer to leave your plants where they are, you can wipe the leaves and stems one at a time using a damp cloth with cold water. Rinse your cloth as soon as it becomes soiled and repeat.
If water does not remove stubborn stains or embedded dirt, prepare a solution of half cold water and half white vinegar. Spray the surfaces, leave for about five minutes, then wipe with a damp cloth soaked in cold water.
Caution: wetting silk plants can affect their appearance. Test an inconspicuous area first before watering or spraying the entire object.
Decorative ideas for artificial plants and trees
Treat your artificial plants as if they were natural – the effect will be even more convincing!
Real pots and real soil
If the pot included with your purchase does not fit perfectly with your decor, change it! Replace it with a stone, rustic metal, terracotta, or glass receptacle. You can also hide it with a cotton, rattan, wood, or other planter. Accentuate the illusion by adding some real earth or river stones.
Place your artificial plants in a credible location
As a general rule, choose a place with natural light where real plants can grow. Point the thickest part of your artificial plant towards a window. Choose low-traffic locations such as at the back of the room, on furniture or on a window frame, so as to green up the overall décor without attracting attention.
Mix the real and the fake
Consider combining natural and artificial varieties. Place a bouquet of fresh flowers or a real potted plant among silk and plastic imitations to deceive the eye, with what is real towards the front or within reach. You can also incorporate other authentic elements into your artificial arrangements, such as tree branches or dried flowers, and replace them as needed.
If you don’t have a thumb for green or the environment is not conducive to real plants, artificial plants bring greenery and luxury to the space, without the maintenance!