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Faux Florals & Plants: Yay or Yuck? Let’s Discuss…

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Am I the only one that shudders at the mere mention of silk flowers? Look, I’m a child of the ’80s, with most of my formative “childhood home decor” years being in the ’90s, and those decades, for whatever reason (someone, please explain if you can) had a love affair with artificial plants of all kinds. Florals, indoor trees, topiaries, even outdoor plants. I seriously remember visiting some people’s homes in Florida (where the weather is mostly hospitable to greenery year-round, mind you) who had plastic flowers in their window boxes and “planted” along walking paths…WHY?!?!? Just thinking about this makes me sneeze…all the dust that accumulates in those petals. I have a very clear scent memory about that very specific dusty, plastic-y scent that’s hard to shake.

But guess what everyone? We’re now living in 2019, and faux florals and plants have gotten SO MUCH BETTER. Emily told us all a story recently that proves this point, plus had us all in stitches. I was going to regale you with her tale, but actually, it’s just better if she shares it herself:

“Last year, when we were visiting Brian’s parents, I was super impressed with the health of her orchid that she had for two years. When I asked her what the secret was, she said she kept it in the perfect light for orchids and that every time they went out of town, they brought it over to her neighbors to care for it, water it, etc. I felt it. It felt so real and healthy. I rethought the orchid once again, historically not loving it mostly because when it’s dormant it looks like sticks and yet you still have to care for two sticks so that it’ll rebloom eventually. I have two young kids and no time to care for sticks. The next time we were up there, she made the announcement to the family that indeed we had all been the fool of a faux flower conspiracy and that while it looked real and felt so real, it was in fact TOTALLY FAKE.”

I’ve seen plenty of artificial trees that are pretty passable (more on that in a bit), but this begs the question, just because you can, does it mean you should? If you asked me a few years back, I would have given faux plants (especially flowers) a hard pass. Veto. No thank you. But, you see those flowers up there? In that pretty wallpapered room that Emily designed last year? THOSE ARE FAKE. Would I be able to tell in person? Hmm, maybe?? But also…so what? (WHO AM I?). When I was prepping out this story, I asked Emily her opinion on it all as I tried to find my own words for the very important matter, see where she stood on so real vs. faux real (considering the orchid controversy), and here’s what she said:

“My 25-year-old self would look at me with such ‘you’ve changed’ shame. As someone who has historically been more obsessed with flowers than most, it seems quite absurd to be okay with the imitation taking the place of natural flower and greenery. While I historically have hated anything that was faux trying to be real, I’ve been convinced time and time again that IF DONE WELL, the faux can be better than the real: vegan leather is starting to look so good, polyester can absolutely look like linen, we use faux logs in our fireplace. If a fake plant or flower looks actually real then I say it’s fine to use, saves money in the long run and stress trying to keep it alive.”

Emily Henderson Faux Florals Peonies

While I don’t necessarily disagree, I do want to state very explicitly here before carrying on that nearly nothing can replace the delicate beauty of cut florals or real greenery. NOTHING. No one is arguing that here. But…is close enough good enough in some instances? I think my answer is yes. Because WHAT?!? THOSE PEONIES ARE FAKE UP THERE. Stop it. I would have bet a week’s worth of nitro cold brews that that arrangement up there was real. Usually the leaves give it away, but being so densely packed hid a lot in this instance. The slimming black outfit of the floral world?

So…what exactly are those instances, you might be wondering. Let’s dive in…

Emily Henderson Faux Florals Patio

Here is TOP SECRET, BEHIND THE SCENES information: the roses in Emily’s vines up there…fake. Even the buds. Fake. They were brought in for last year’s 4th of July shoot for Rachael Ray Every Day and unless you looked up close, you’d never be able to tell. Honestly. Now, I’m not telling you all to run around, shoving silk roses and peonies into your bushes and vines, but if you’re after a more lush look in some of your existing plants and maybe having a party of some sort, there’s no shame in helping things along (like false lashes!). The key is using florals that would naturally occur. This is not the time to throw in some Birds of Paradise in a vine they clearly do not belong. It would be like adding hair extensions to a dog. Could you? I mean I guess…but why on earth would you?

Emily Henderson Faux Florals 4
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Emily Henderson Faux Florals 5
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Both of those photos above are FULL of faux plants. The bookshelves…nearly all artificial, and the lesson here is, it’s totally okay to go faux in areas of your home that are either hard to reach (high open shelves in the kitchen or the top of bookcases, etc.) or you don’t spend a ton of time in but want a natural pop of green for looks. Could all of these potted plants have been real without much fuss + all the benefits living plants offer? Yes, probably, but another thing to think about is pets. So many house plants are actually quite toxic to our cats and dogs (you can find out more about which ones those are here), so this is a good solution if you want the boho jungle vibe without the worry.

Another EHD-approved time that faux florals and greens are 100%A-Okay is when the plant is OBVIOUSLY fake, but in a playful way. Last year, in staging out this bedroom for Target, they had some papier maché-esque cactus and they were very, very cute. These weren’t trying to fool anyone. They were purposefully quirky and such a fun decor piece that would be great in kids rooms or on a “shelfie,” for instance.

Emily Henderson Faux Florals Faux And Real
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Like Emily mentioned, when the real version and the faux versions are, at least from afar, very passable, and you happen to be a hopeless, negligent plant parent (no matter how much you try), go ahead…go plastic. Hot Tip: Don’t put two of the same faux plant too close together because they likely won’t be varied in shape or drape (they are mass produced, after all). Two same-same arrangements side-by-side would stand out as plainly as a palm tree in Alaska.

Emily Henderson Faux Florals At Trees
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The last instance I want to talk about where artificial plants are perfectly great is with hard-to-care-for varieties. If you’re a master green thumb, by all means bring in air-purifying natural beauties, but some plant species are notoriously finicky, especially if you’re a newbie or just don’t have the right indoor conditions for them (dark rooms, for example). The ever-popular fiddle leaf fig tree…not the most low-maintenance house plant out there, folks, yet people are obsessed with their looks and try regardless. There are actually some really good faux offerings on the market (Apartment Therapy did an in-house test and the most real-looking one they found was from World Market—the second one from the left…it’s pretty darn good).

Do note that you typically get what you pay for here. If you want artificial florals and plants that would fool even Emily, be prepared to spend, typically, several hundred dollars. Like I said earlier, poor quality leaves that look papery or too much like fabric with super plastic-y veins will hardly ever be passable for the real thing (if that’s what you’re going for).

I didn’t want to leave this post without discussing things to avoid when sourcing faux plants, and while the below are mostly extreme examples, there are still lessons to be learned.

Emily Henderson Faux Florals Bad Examples
image sources: top left | top right | bottom left | bottom right

-Okay, so let’s start at the top left orchid arrangement. In general, I’d say avoid an “arrangement” to begin with, especially one that is so decorative. Simple is always best as not to attract doubt. The faux artichoke, sticks, wood ball thing…red flags that you’re dealing with a fake.

-Next up…ROSES ARE NOT KOOL-AID BLUE. If you’re considering a faux floral and it looks like it could match a popsicle, step away.

-So…vines like ivy are also tough. There’s something about them that feels especially stuffy and hard to pull off. The print on the leaf usually is just not spot on and there are too many opportunities to spot plastic stems.

-And finally, in the bottom right shot, while the flowers themselves are not offensive, you don’t have to stare too long to tell this is a plastic situation. As per usual, the leaves and stems are a dead giveaway. Florals with much denser petals are easier to pull off because you can pack them together, but with something airier like this…it’s so much harder to pull off.

Again, thank you 2019, because you have brought with you a plethora of very good and convincing artificial plants…

Emily Henderson Faux Florals Good Examples
image sources, top row: left | middle | right, bottom row: left | middle | bottom

With all these plants, I played a fun little game of “real or fake” with some of the team, and no one passed. Muahaha. Mission accomplished.

-The king protea at the top left of the above grid is such a great faux floral. That flower basically always looks fake, even when it’s real. I’ve literally stared at one recently, convinced it was FAKE (oh how the tables turn), and turns out it was REAL. So…solid choice if you want some “natural” vibes without going through cut flowers every week or two.

-The top middle sedum plant from Magnolia is also so so good. I could see it in a dark bathroom, bedroom or a spot like a laundry room where having a plant might be tough, but it just adds that movement so needed in some vignettes.

-That fern from West Elm (top right) has great texture for the faker that it is.

-In the bottom row, the jade plant on the left is probably the most convincing one of this whole bunch. Jade plants are so waxy and, like the protea, already look kind of fake, even when real, while this fiddle leaf fig—the World Market pick Apartment Therapy reported on—has a thick cluster of leaves that are varied with passable veins.

-The snake plant (which is actually a very easy plant to care for, though toxic to cats) fooled me, owner of many snake plants over the years.

Now, it’s time to hear from all of you. There really is no wrong answer here, but I’m itching to know where you stand on this front. Would you let faux florals and plants into your home, or are you staunchly “real or nothing”?? Can’t wait to see what you all think.

Fin Mark

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kay

But what happens when you’re tired of fake plants? They end up in the landfill and because they’re plastic, they will be here for a thousand years. Literally. What happens when you kill or get tired of a real plant? Oh it just decomposes and enriches the soil LIKE PLANTS SHOULD. I’m not an environmentalist by any means (I still – shamefully – use ziplock bags here and there) but fake plants I just can’t get behind. It is so incredibly wasteful. Didn’t someone on your team become vegetarian because they think it’s better for the earth? And someone else stopped using paper towels in favor of cloth towels? How in the world did this post get published without these points being made?

Sarah

THIS ^^^ And real plants are beneficial to indoor air quality. I do have a few fake tulips in a vase and yes, they look real, but I can’t get behind shelves full of plastic or giant plastic plants because they are an easy way to be on trend.

LouAnn

Why do you assume they all get thrown away immediately? You dust off the fake plant, donate it to Goodwill, and it finds a home somewhere else. You give it to your sister, your neighbor, your grandchild’s play room.

No need to always assume the worst of everyone else’s motives and behavior.

Sahaja

I would also consider, in that same vein of thought, the carbon footprint of importing plants. A lot of real plants have to be imported from warmer climate countries, and speedily, obviously. I think faux plants can outweigh real plants when it comes to that.

Alison

Most of these plastic plants are likely produced in Asia. It’s not like they’re absent from having a carbon footprint (and that’s without sequestering any carbon during their lifetime like real plants do).

This feels very much like the fake versus real Christmas tree debate. If you have a plastic thing, you better be keeping it forever or finding a way to dispose of it in an environmentally conscious manner. NOT just dropping it off at your local donation center where they now have the task of getting rid of junk that doesn’t sell, isn’t properly cleaned, etc.

If you can get the real plants locally, that’s better all around. Especially for your air quality! Maybe you just have to sacrifice not having the “trendiest” plants in your home? But that doesn’t mean there’s not something else that would thrive in your space.

Loveley

excellent point

Molly

I have to agree with Kay. While I’m no environmental angel, purchasing/supporting faux plants/flowers is borderline irresponsible, because they WILL be around for 1000 years. While you can dust it off and donate it, how long in those 1000 years will it be worthy of display and be “on trend”? While a carbon footprint of importing plants should be considered, it’s imperative to consider the balance.

J

Real plants come in plastic containers. If you have no talent for keeping plants alive, you have a bunch of enriched decomposed soil in ….. plastic containers.

Lisa

J: Exactly. There are millions and millions of plastic containers from “real” plants that end up in landfills. But these days, the Outrage Police are so eager to point the finger, they don’t always consider their own contributions to a problem.

Catherine

I had to wince at the “outrage” police. Some of us are just scared about the future.

Camille

And some of us are not worried at all which to my mind is far more outrageous

Kay

LOL at that weak point of plastic plant containers ending up in landfills. 1.) Yes, most nurseries or farmers happily take them to reuse them. 2.) Even if you don’t send it back to the nursery, you can recycle them. Fake plants CANNOT BE RECYCLED.

Also re: someone saying just donate when you’re done with it: it’s life on earth does not end when you decide to dump it on someone else. Plastics will be here for a thousand years. So sure, keep passing it on so someone else can enjoy it. How long can that plant be passed on before being a dusty, nasty eyesore? Maybe 10 years? Still has 990 years of life left in it, to waste away on earth.

Big picture, people.

lauren

People may be more receptive to what you say if you change your pedantic holier-than-thou tone. Sometimes its not what you say but how you say it. You make those who choose faux plants sound like stupid evil-doers.

Heather

Public service announcement: plastic pots can be recycled in our curbside bins 🙂 also a lot of nurseries or Lowes or home depot will take them back too!

Lori

I actually save mine (and ask my friends for any they have that they don’t want) and then take them back to the nursery, where they reuse them. If you find a nursery that also grows their own stock (you might have to look up a “to the trade” grower), they’ll take anything in a standard size (4″, #1, #3, #15, etc.) without a printed brand name on it. My Facebook Buy Nothing group also always has people looking for small plastic pots to grow stuff with their kids, etc, so I save my branded pots for that. There’s no reason to just chuck old plastic pots in the trash.

Alexandra

You can re-use the containers or donate them to a community garden or the like (here in San Jose, there is for example a volunteer-run non-profit nursery, the City Forest, which happily takes any kind of plant container). I feel like buying fake plants is just a tiny bit irresponsible, because they are only used for decoration, and they don’t really serve a purpose other than looking good and trendy.

Sam

“LOL at that weak point of plastic plant containers ending up in landfills. 1.) Yes, most nurseries or farmers happily take them to reuse them. 2.) Even if you don’t send it back to the nursery, you can recycle them. Fake plants CANNOT BE RECYCLED.”

NEITHER CAN PLASTIC PLANT CONTAINERS. (Why are you shouting?) The point being: However noble you are, the vast majority of people who buy plants DO NOT take their plastic plant containers back to nurseries or farmers. Those containers end up in landfills, however much you are lol’ing.

Everything we do on this planet has an impact. How much damage do the pesticides used on these “real” plants and flowers do to our environment? How much water do they use?

The holier-than-though attitude doesn’t really help. Environmentally there are pros and cons to both faux plants and to the massive gardening (not to mention cut-flower) industry. You only ignore the latter problems under the false sense that that gardening is “natural.”

AL

Love your blog Emily, but came here to say the same thing. I can get behind necessary and sometimes revolutionary applications of plastics (in medicine, etc), but there’s something particularly unnecessary about fake plants. A pet peeve of mine is seeing a fake plant in a windowless room. Seems the decorating equivalent of eating those sad tasteless tomatoes in the middle of winter. If you like plants, just take the time to go to a local nursery and ask what will grow in your home.

Allison

Yes, I agree. We are choking our planet with plastic, and that has to be a consideration (acknowledging that I am just as guilty as many!). I always think this needs to be mentioned when Emily and other bloggers rave about faux Christmas/holiday greenery, too.

Maxine

Yes! I agree. I never post but just thought I should add my two cents worth of agreement to this very important point.

Lori

Agreed 100% Down with unnecessary petrochemical crap!

Karen

I’m also somewhat disappointed that the environmental considerations weren’t even mentioned. Like many of the other commenters, I’m by no means perfect (or even close) at minimizing my negative impact on the environment. But I think it’s good for us to be cognizant of our impact and continue to strive to do better, rather than just ignore it–or, as some other commenters have done here–get super aggressive and wholly deny the problem. Personally, the idea of fake, plastic plants that long-term are harmful to the planet seems inherently antithetical to the whole idea of plants!

Kelly

Agreed, Kay. Also plants are a living, breathing thing providing so many benefits to air quality. I just can’t get on board with them being a mere prop. If you really want something merely decorative, skip the petroleum based faux flower for some of the hand made paper flowers. These can be stunningly beautiful when done well.

Emily K

This point – of real plants providing other benefits to household living, namely air quality – is the other reason why I just don’t understand the use of fake plants.

Crystal

Love the idea of paper plants and dried eucalyptus. I also can’t bring myself to buy fake plants. I often buy potted herbs for my kitchen. I don’t try to keep them alive forever, and when they are done I compost them. Here in PA the daffodils will bloom soon and then I will bring in fresh cut flowers from my yard until November. They will last less than a week before they go in he compost, but the act of having to go outside and cut more is so restorative to me.

Emily K

I came to the comments to completely echo what Kay said. For whatever reason, fake plants just feel so wasteful to me. I try pretty hard to be a mindful consumer, but I definitely fail in many areas. Yet, fake plants just seem more ultimately destined for a landfill than most other products. Also, having visited my husband’s great grandmother’s house many times, it’s crazy to see how so many of her fake plants just sit there, untouched, long past her passing. I just can’t get behind the waste of fake plants, though I acknowledge they seem to be gaining a bit of momentum.

Cindy

Same. I was surprised to not see this issue addressed: for me, the landfill factor is central to this topic.

I loved the comment below assuring us that learning how to keep plants alive, and sometimes failing and recycling them, is part of the process. Don’t start with a diva orchid, start with something easier. Even fiddle leaf is surprisingly accommodating (not sure how it got such a bad rap!).

Also, for those of you with low-light situations, I empathize. If it helps, I have a snake plant in a bathroom that gets ZERO light and it has stayed alive for months.

And finally, dusting is my least favorite thing about being a human, and fake plants will always have to be dusted. Hard pass on more dusting.

Team Real Plants all the way for me.

Patty

I understand the passion that people have about real plants, but man, this holier-than-thou attitude is such a bummer and, to be perfectly honest, a lot more hateful and aggressive than I’ve come to expect from this community. Some of us have very SEVERE plant allergies and actually can’t have real plants in our homes — not to mention have cats that, you know, we don’t want to kill. Are we supposed to just resign ourselves to living without any greenery or beauty in our lives because of this? Or just live a life where we can barely breathe, get hives, and put our pets’ lives at risk just to make some people happy? What am I supposed to say, “Sure my cat is dead, and I go through Epi Pens on the daily, but at least I didn’t buy plastic?” That attitude is insane. Sometimes fake plants are the best, and ONLY, option for people, and this attitude that we’re killing the world because of a couple fake plants is, to be blunt, beyond obnoxious.

aL

Dude, there are so many plants out there that won’t kill your cat. Not hard to research. If you like fake plants that’s fine, but no need to call others obnoxious for voicing legitamate concerns to non-essential petrochemical products.

Jessie

So…paper flowers then? Maybe the “revolution” needs to be biodegradable decor of all kinds – we use plastic for decor items in so many ways, and so often it isn’t even really a consideration that it may or may not be environmentally friendly to get rid of 10 years down the line.

Yep. Paper flowers. Beautiful pieces of art, even when they are sometimes obviously fake (but sometimes they’re not!).

Patty

Paper flowers are actually a great, and helpful, suggestion that I will gladly look into in the future. I had never really heard of them before, so thanks for the tip! I just hate all the people above who are so unwilling to listen to any other options than 100% real. Congrats to everyone who can afford that kind of luxury, but for some people, it’s just not an option. It’s like banning straws — yes, plastic straws are terrible, but my grandmother is handicapped and can’t drink without one, and now has to go through the hassle of asking for one all the time and always feels judged whenever she does. And I can’t exactly ask a 90-year-old to remember to bring a reuable one everywhere, no matter how much I try. Does cutting out straws help the environment? Absolutely. But it also makes life much more difficult for some people. The idea that you don’t deserve to have anything at all if it can’t have something that’s 100% real, organic, biodegradable, and perfect just really rubs me the wrong way.

Vika

Thank you, thank you! I’m with you on that. If I cannot care for a plant, I’ll find other decor. If my cat eats a fig tree, I’ll get an aloe plant or agave or another plant it cannot it. Will never buy a fake plant that is ultimately going to a landfill.

Becky

Or you know, you could purchase mass produced plants and cut flowers every few weeks, go through tons of chemicals and pesticides to keep them secure to be shipped to your store from other states or countries, and then throw them outside to potentially cause alien invasive species. Plastic isn’t good for the environment. But neither is buying florals like that – what a waste for staging, events, etc. when they won’t last and can cause harm. It’s like using a faux Xmas tree – you’re saving on the 50+ real trees you’ll cut down and throw out in your lifetime

Elizabeth

Just a small note–Christmas tree farms really help with improving the watershed, soil stabilization, air quality, and habitat creation (and tree-cutting is staggered so it’s not like clearcutting a whole habitat). It’s actually a win-win! So fake trees just cut back on the benefits of tree farms.

Fiona

Team real plants too – same for the end-of-life issues the first commenter made, but also because real plants put oxygen in the air while fakes put out plastic fumes. And basically, I feel like it’s an authenticity thing. Why would you sub in stinky polyester for genuine beautiful breathing linen. Why would you have plastic instead of porcelain? And why would you have fake over real plants? While ot works in instagram – where a flat shot works, I think being in a real 3D space would make a difference. I love the Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi – where the transience of youth and imperfection of aging is to be desired over the too flawless beauty of the static fake.

Alison

Oof. Plastic fumes. Not that I needed it, but I immediately made a mental note to never buy a fake plant. Totally right that if something like paint or a mattress that’s not eco friendly has off-gasing to do, these probably do to. Plastic is never the right answer.

Sahaja

As soon as I saw this post, I felt like it was one I needed and was waiting for but didn’t know I did!! As someone who’s cat tries to eat every plant, including a spiky cactus, I have no choice but to get faux plants. I actually have the fun cactus from target pictured above. The cacti from ikea I hate bc they are so obviously fake and too brilliant of a green, but they had beautiful winter arrangements this year in sage tones.

I did also do dried eucalyptus, which is real but no upkeep and the cat hasn’t attempted to devour it, so a real win!

I get the commenter’s point above about plastic and landfills. I wonder if there’s biodegradable faux options. I dont really throw away my old faux plants, but I’m sure people do.

Laura

yes! the only reason i had to get a fake fiddle fig was because my cat ate the real one i had (and all other plants in my house regardless of where they are!)

Kim

My cats are the only reason I’d go with a fake plant and although I understand the concern about plastics, what about becoming whole food vegan and being a real help to the planet and improve your health at the same time?

FivebyFive

I was an adamant opponent of fake flowers and plants but then I bought a couple from Target for my front porch, which gets very little light. For years, I wasted money on live plants for the porch and they all died. So I went fake. And not only do they look real, they look great! I bought 2 big green fake leafy plants and I expect they will last me for years. I’m a convert.

Emily R

I have a fairly green thumb, and get lots of house plants from my mother who can grow anything. I’d rathter have no plants, than fake plants personally. I’ve never seen a fake houesplant that actually could fool someone into thinking it’s the real thing. I don’t understand the appeal of plastic, when the point of a plant is to watch it grown and nurture it, and it cleans your air. But hey, if you want a plastic plant – knock yourself out.

kas

Completely agree and I’ll also add that I consider taking care of my plants one of my hobbies/pastimes. Fakers could not be less appealing to me. But to each their own!

Ronda

I too used to despise fake plants. But as you say, the faux items are worlds better lately, and we bought a vacation home that changed my mind. I can’t do the daily care of houseplants when we only visit once a month, but mixing faux with some real “low maintenance” snake plants makes a huge difference in the decor. A few real ones tossed in the mix lends credence to the artificial and allows for greenery in an “occasional” use home.

Dena

They never really look “real” real. Even for pictures. I know everyone says but I bought one that looks real!! I’ve never seen one that really did. Plus, more plastic. And, growing up in the 70’s and 80’s they still, no matter how much more real looking they have become, remind me of bad 80’s plastic plastic.

They are faux, but let’s call them what they really are, plastic.

Jenn

Why does it have to be either, or? Personally, I’m team both. In the living room, I have two real snake plants and one faux fiddle (and a real fiddle in the kitchen where I get better sunlight). We just don’t have enough natural light in the living room or most of the bedrooms to keep plants alive for the long-term so any succulent in my house is going to be a fake one. But I still value real plants too and am on the hunt for a new one in the living room that needs low light.

Wylde Blooms

Don’t sleep on preserved florals! There’s nothing better than preserved eucalyptus with a few silk or dried flowers involved. You get the smell of eucalyptus for years without the water and light requirements. It is real eucalyptus, just harvested and immediately dipped in a lye solution. I do preserved + silk combos at WyldeBlooms.Com if you’re interested in checking out a third option.

Sue

I’m a gardener who loves real plants and spends hours growing vegetables and flowers but I’m also a paper flower artist who makes crepe paper flowers ( @mrsthank_you on instagram). Consider handmade paper flowers as opposed to mass-produced faux flowers bought at big box stores. There is a huge community of paper florists who make amazing flowers and foliage for weddings, corporate events, art installations, and home decor. The high-end decor retailer John Derian sells the work of Livia Cetti who makes amazing paper flowers including a gorgeous geranium. I’d rather have a real houseplant, but if you’re unable to care for it or don’t want a potentially damp pot on vintage table, I’d consider something like a handmade plant. You could even try to make your own. Corrie Beth Hogg makes amazing paper houseplants and has an instruction book with wonderful projects. Check out all the amazing paper florist on Etsy and Instagram. 🙂

Elizabeth

Lovely idea!

Lori

YESSSSSSS!!!! I love paper flowers! How do you dust them?

Sue

Oops my IG name is @mrsthankyou_studio. Guess the coffee hadn’t kicked in 😉

Alexandra

Thank you, your paper flower art is very beautiful, that’s not “fake flowers”, that’s art. Thank you for sharing!

kay

I love this idea!! What a beautiful, more conscious, idea.

Brandi

I don’t have artificial plants in my home, but I’m a bit of a plant lady. I love to play in dirt, as my kids say to make fun of me. Houseplants are my favorite; I’m constantly propagating the ones I have to give a gifts. I just pick plants that can survive on neglect at times ?. I love the way plants put a finishing touch on a room without having too many accessories. I understand people getting faux plants but I like the reward of growing something beautiful.

Mel

I’m die-hard all about real plants. Killing them is part of the process of learning to care for them. You learn, you get better, you kill less. I also enjoy the mindfulness part of caring for them. Oh it’s Thursday! I need to water the fiddle leaf (which incidentally is a 100% true statement). With that being said I have a few fake plants here and there, in the bathroom there is one tiny one in a lovely little pot, and in the basement I have a fake hanging string of pearls. I have tried for 5 years to keep plants alive in those 2 places and it just isn’t happening. So fake it is. I can’t fathom getting rid of them any sooner than any other decor and if I did I would just pass it on/sell/donate for someone else because they’re adorable. Thanks for the round up. I might get a tiny bouquet of fake flowers for my 2 year olds room as she loves flowers but also loves picking at them.

Melissa

Same here. I love house plants, and I have quite an assortment of succulents, bromeliads, and a constantly growing collection of orchids, current count is 31. And yet, I have 1 fake orchid. No plant would grow where it lives, in the water closet of my master bathroom. Does that make sense? Not really. But it was a depressing place to be because of bad lighting, and there is a little ceramic stool that was the perfect place for it. I looked for a long time to find a decent one, covered the fake moss with river rocks, and four years later it still looks great. I prefer outrage for people that still haven’t seemed to adopt reusable shopping bags, which seems to be about 90% of the customers in my city (not a law in FL).

Kelly

OMG i swear my mom had that purple/yellow/pink flower arrangement in a basket in the middle of our kitchen table for YEARS in the 90s. It was silk and cost a fortune.

i love plants and am pretty decent at taking care of the real ones, but with 2 littles just can’t keep up with my green babies the way i used to. I’m installing irrigation outside this year and using more faux inside.

Orlando

I think I’m still team real. I think there have been amazing technological strides that mean there are a ton of very beautiful options for artificial plants out there. My issue is what do you do when they get dusty? Like with a real plant you can wash it off and it’s living so it regenerates and brightens back up, but fake plants dull over time and ultimately have to be thrown away. The disposable factor is also an issue with the fake turf stuff so many people are putting in here in California post drought. It seems like a good water saving idea but in the long run what happens when it’s worn out and gross? More landfill nonsense. I’ve used artificial products and finishes over the years, mainly for budgetary reasons or because a client requested it. But I still think you can tell when something isn’t real and it kind of diminishes its presence. A good example of this is candles. Emily knows I hate fake candles (the ones with the little LED lights inside and the the battery operated wiggly fake flame). Yes, they technically look like candles (especially in photos/video) but they don’t have any… Read more »

Hannah

okay, first, I agree with you completely. And second, I read this and thought, Wow, this writer sounds just like Orlando! Then I looked at the name. You have a distinctive voice, my fake internet friend.

Rashmi Pappu

ORLANDO IS RIGHT.

Dena

Well said Orlando!

Elizabeth

Learning to keep real plants alive took me years, and I’m so happy with and proud of all my little plant babies. Caring for them is a very zen part of my week. They give me beauty and calm and clean air and lessons about balance and fragility and resilience and renewal. We all need to remember not to get too much or too little sun, water, and attention.

If you’re truly just into plants for their looks, maybe going fake makes sense, but for me, my plants give me more than looks.

Natalia

Can’t agree more! They are my babies, and I am so proud when they grow or blosom. They make me happy

Lori

This is the curse of being a professional gardener. All of those fake plants look super fake to me, even the “good” ones. The one exception is the sansevieria. (Which is great, because I always slowly kill those.) So for me, the only fake flowers I’d want in my house are those really cool paper ones where when you see the fakeness, you’re just like “how clever!” But how do you dust paper flowers without ruining them?

Saima

I’ve got fake Eucalyptus and Ranunculus from Ikea, and both are pretty good. However, my favorite fake is my Fiddle Leaf Fig from Target… really good actually! – https://www.target.com/p/33-x-16-fiddle-lead-fig-plant-in-pot-green-white-threshold-153/-/A-53782617

Josh

I love real plants and because of Emily, I have been very careful about bringing them or anything faux in my home. I don’t bring faux wood in my home or metal colored plastic either. Fake plants are beginning to look very real. Because of this, I do have an aloe from Target on my coffee table, but that is it and mixed with other real plants, people are less likely to doubt since everything else is real. I really appreciate this post and I’m glad someone has addressed it. I grew up with my mom having vines around the top of the cabinets, faux floral arrangements, and the like….makes me cringe! Great post!

Cf Betcher

Faux plants for a dark corner or black thumb, definitely. Faux flowers, no.

Christa

I think they’re fine for dark corners and hard to grow rooms, or to be safe for pets, they are a great solution. Big showy blooms that sit front and center in your living room are harder for me to like. I think when I see a big bouquet, the first thing I want to do it smell it, that’s a big part of enjoying flowers.

Paula Carr

Reminds me of the first time I went to the Rose Parade. I don’t know why it was so surprising. I was like Duh. The smell was sooooo good!

Bethany

Yes, they look more and more real, but *I* know they’re not real, and that ruins them for me. I like knowing I have real, living plants as part of my home’s ecosystem. After caring for them for a while, I feel fond of them and consider them part of the “family,” ha. A fake plant, at the end of the day, is a big hunk of plastic standing in the corner of your room, and that’s antithetical to a natural/beautiful/organic home plus bad for the environment IMO. It just feels gross. My only exception is a Christmas tree because that’s already dead by the time it’s in your living room whether it’s real or not (plus needles get everywhere and I’m allergic to the sap 🙂

I am by no means a master gardener, but snake plants, pothos, dumbcane, succulents, etc are wildly easy to care for and look great, shiny and green 99% of the time.

Miranda

I will forever and always hate fake plants. I JUST got my mom used to the idea of embracing real foliage inside (she loves showing off plants outside, why can’t she bring that same affinity in? Blows my mind) and now faux is everywhere again. Noooooo.

http://MirandaRodgers.com

Joy

Wow this comment thread is worth the price of admission! I’m torn. I finally got some (real) plants for my house and they make SUCH a difference; but, I think some areas of my house simply don’t get enough light to support the plants’ growth. So what do I do in those places?

If your dark room doesn’t allow for real plants, what’s a good (non-fake-plant) alternative for decor?

Jennifer

How about art? I have some paintings and prints, framed, nothing pricey, of green things and scenery, in a room that can’t support real plants.

Elizabeth

There are a lot of low light plants that thrive in shadier conditions! Some of them are also, surprisingly, kind of cactus like and need very little attention. Ask at a plant nursery!

jen

I have a few fake plants at home in areas that don’t get enough light to sustain a real plant, and at work, where I’m not allowed to have real plants. I would never have all fake plants, but sometimes you want that pop of greenery in an area that won’t sustain real plants because of the low light. I’m very grateful for this new crop of real-looking faux plants!

Bre

My home gets virtually zero natural light. Faux used to be my go-to, but I’m slowly replacing the faux with dried. I also have some dried eucalyptus that actually smell great, look great, and require zero maintenance.

Megan

Someone else up thread also mentioned dried eucalyptus and the great smell. Where might I purchase dried eucalyptus?

Megan

I am on team real. Except for Christmas decor (faux greenery and berries and xmas trees and the like are ok). I have had a few houseplants over the years, but in general I’m not much of a fan of plants as decor. One plant in my apartment would look fine, but more than one is veering into too much of a “bohemian” look, and I don’t like that design style at all.

I am planning to purchase some herbs (basil, sage, mint) this spring for cooking—they will be kept in individual pots on my windowsill. And occasionally I will buy fresh flowers. That’s about all the greenery I want in my home.

Helen White

We have fake plants in a vacation home. They look great and we don’t have to worry about them dying because we’re not always there to water them!

Bridget

CREPE PAPER FLOWERS are the only fakes I allow in my home. I’ve recently become obsessed with making them and while they aren’t going to fool anyone, they are more like that paper mache cactus- fun and whimsical. Some of the serious crafter people can make incredible bouquets- like The Green Vase. Her talent is amazing.

perrin

Love this! I see faux plants at thrift stores/flea markets all the time and it’s a constant debate for me.

Linda

Fake flowers and plants, yuck, yuck, yuck. I don’t care how real they look. A designer who likes them loses credibility with me.

Linda

The World Market tree is all the way on the right. I know because I brought it home with me, the first one to pass my high standards when it comes to fake, and I searched a very long time. I brought it back, because it was a little pithy compared to the 8′ real one I have in my kitchen, but it is still a pretty good option. Though I must say the second from left does look pretty good and perhaps that’s why you thought it was the recommended one? I’ve seen some beauties on line but they run from $400-$800, no thanks.

Paula Carr

I have flashbacks to all those obviously fake ivy plants people used to shove up into the gap between the top of their kitchen cabinets and the ceiling. Yuck. Besides I’m a HUGE fan of running your cabinets as flush to the ceiling as you can. Why encourage dust bunnies?

Also, I don’t understand fake cacti and succulents. They’re so simple to care for and almost indestructible. They’re actually better with less care than more.

Finally, I remember buying a sansevieria for a dark area in my house, and the lady at the counter saying “You could grow these in a closet.” Heh.

Kate

Yuck.For.Ever.

Karen

Great article! Just like you, I grew up abhorring fake plants and flowers. If you think they were tacky in the 90s, be glad you weren’t alive in the 70s. Yeesh! That said, I also got a green thumb from my mom and learned so much about gardening from her. (She’s 86 and still takes care of her own gardens. When I was a kid she grew all our vegetables.) But not everybody has a green thumb, so if they want greenery that won’t die, they should go for the faux. I will admit I have ONE fake flower in my house. I was fooled by the magnolia blooms at a craft store, and after close inspection decided the artistry of that fake bloom was worth celebrating in its own right, so I bought one.

Suzanne

I’m typically a real plant person although have recently been considering a couple of faux branches or big leaves for a vase. To me (and no offense meant for anyone who does this) it is so blatantly faux to have a lush plant where it obviously would never survive – it defies nature. I only have a few spots with enough light for plant survival so I brighten other areas with art or bunches of flowers from the local grocery as an occasional treat for myself. I have a lovely front garden so perhaps that is why faux has little appeal.

S

Ewe…just my opinion.
I dislike most things “faux” and prefer to get what’s real, still in my budget, even if that means less often, etc.
but I’m not hating on the post. The idea just gets thumb down imho.

Brooke

I’m a fan of fake flowers in little arrangements that are not in your face, like tucked on a bookshelf or by a table lamp, but greenery not so much. I mean, a jade or snake plant or is so dang easy to care for, why would you buy a fake?

Sonja

I run an airbnb and I love that my cleaner religiously waters the soil of my fake orchid. 🙂

He’s a sweet guy but plants are clearly not his thing: the weekly drenchings would spell immediate death to a real specimen.

Charli Brown

I was so relieved when I read this article – I couldn’t agree more!! There’s a huge difference between walking into an outdated home with equally outdated fake arrangements, and walking into a more updated home with modern faux plant-life. I do have one question. My husband and I own an Airbnb and I have gone back and forth over this for months: to have real flowers, or not to have real flowers. We clean it ourselves (my husband is in pharmacy school & I work full time) and I only have my lunch break to do anything that needs to be done in regards to those “special touches” (my dear husband tries…but there are some things that just can’t be taught ;). This year, I decided to stop sweating it out by making sure every piece of greenery was fresh & gorgeous (& expensive) & instead made the switch to fake plants, unless there were already actual real plants (not fresh cut flowers/greenery) in the home. I’ve had a lot more time to focus on other things when we flip now, but I still wonder if I’m giving our visitors a negative impression of our space due to having,… Read more »

Heidi

Oh my gosh, the bow tie on your deer mount is adorable! I may have to borrow that idea for our mounts 😉

Natalia

I don’t like fake plants or stones. When I see a house full of plants I have a feeling and make a idea of the people who lives there. If its fake ….. is fake. For me pets and plants are important in my house, is the vibrant energy they have so I would rather prefer the real thing. Unless they don’t pretend be real and are obviusly fake.

Coletrain

I’m rather amused by all the environmental cowgirls on here commenting on all the plastic, when interior design and it’s continual redoing, repainting, replacing (cabinets, furniture, paint, etc) is completely the antithesis of being green. -And don’t get me wrong, I love design, but if you’re constantly redesigning, then you’re not really helping the cause much, even if you are selling or donating the stuff. Because it’s just an endless cycle of buying more stuff. But anyhoo, I digress — as for plants: personally I prefer real plants, however, I travel about two weeks out of every six weeks and short of getting a plant sitter, with real ones I have often come home to seriously sad or nearly dead plants. What I’ve done is gotten a combo of live plants (smaller ones) that can survive a week or so without water if they’re out of the sun, AND I’ve gotten a couple of larger and more expensive fake ones (fiddle leaf, palm) that I don’t have to worry about, especially after killing two fiddle leafs. As for fake flowers, I’ve gotten some protea, but stick to the real ones when I’m home. So ultimately, my take is, do what… Read more »

Lynn W

I am mostly a real plant person but not opposed to a good fake. Probably, not the fake trees for me but something smaller or like your protea stem example. I own some dried real protea stems that are gorgeous!
Thanks for the article….interesting to read all the opinions. ?

Mary C

In my Southwest facing living room/dining room area, I have a ton of real plants. Succulents especially because they don’t care if I forget to water them. In the North East facing rooms, I have some fake plants. Always just green ones because fake flowers are too much for me. Real plants will not do well there so I go with what I know will. Ikea has some of the best fake plants for the best prices.

Lisa D.

Emily, I’m digressing and getting off the subject of your post, but I can’t help but express how much I LOVE your back patio metamorphosis! It’s just spectacular. Through my internet trolling I inadvertently found pictures of it. In turn I found your blog and ultimately became a subscriber. It’s given me inspiration for my own back patio. Thanks so much!

Lisa, that is so sweet thank you SO much xx And welcome 🙂

Susie Q.

I’ll just describe my own situation.
I use fake greenery at Christmas time. I don’t have a bunch of it, just a small amount. I bought it used at the thrift store. Yes, I love the kitschy look of shiny fake plastic holly!! I also have a few (small) fake trees in storage. In my current apartment I use a narrow silver tinsel tree. I plan to use the little green trees in my future home. They aren’t going anywhere.
I have one spot on a shelf that I use as a seasonal display. So throughout the year I rotate a fake blooming cherry branch in spring, a single flower in summer, some obviously fake berry and leaf things in fall. They aren’t dusty because I swap them out depending on the season. And that’s it.
I also have real plants in my apartment. Overall I’d say that I prefer real plants or flowers to fake ones.

Maya

I am team both. I have great real plants at home, but also great faux ones. Last time I planted 2 beautiful real rubber plants, my house got filled with TONS of little bugs it was horrible. It took us weeks to get rid of them. My husband freaked out because of the kids, and from then on it is only fake ones, but I kept the live ones too.

I love the real ones more, obviously, but I have World Market 4′ figure leaf that I LOVE, and a beautiful faux ZZplant. They look so real my mom asked me why am I not watering them like the other ones.

I also have faux flowers and stems (from pier 1 ) in my bedroom. I LOVE them! I wash them every few months, they always look fresh and require zero maintenance, I could never maintain real flowers in my bedroom.

Janice

Wow, who knew people had such strong opinions on fake plants?

Rashmi

This would be a No, NO, NEVER. Dust collecting carbon footprints. This design element goes into the pile of buying stuff from home goods or wherever just to fill built in shelves instead of taking the TIME to collect things that have MEANING. Same pile that contains bead board or board and batten for purely decorative purposes when there is zero utility attached. Less is always more, especially today when the world is literally racing towards oblivion. I think as designers there is a moral and ethical obligation to show ideas that have use and not just style. I can get behind a beautiful lamp for example. But I will always see where it’s made, what the carbon footprint was, what ethical considerations were taken I making it. This kind of willy nilly buying of fake plants made in China or wherever is very irresponsible in my opinion. It is also tacky in my opinion but that’s subjective isn’t it. To nurture a plant, to grow it, to dedicate time and attention to it, there is wisdom, joy and meditation in it. Buying a plastic plant is an accurate reflection of the world we live in now – fast fashion,… Read more »

Becca

Rashmi, I love your comment! And I agree. I get the concerns from others about pets and light, but instead of turning to fake versions, why not use something different that you find unique and beautiful? Something that brings you joy will have its own light and energy.

Emily R

I am a big fan of real plants for many reasons but one major reason is that you can propagate existing matured plants and grow new ones from them. The cost of your one plant (and any of the plastic/waste arguments associated with it) can turn into dozens of plants over time that you can gift or repot or grow outdoors/indoors to maturity! Literally free of charge & it’s fairly simple to pull off without having a huge time commitment or “green thumb”.

Lily

As a professional plant maintenance person in Los Angeles, I’d so much rather lose the business than watch someone with a lot of money buy the same rare and beautiful plant over and over insisting it to live in imperfect conditions. I used to hate fakes but now I try to encourage clients who only care about what a project looks like to consider the plastic counterparts.

Char

Nothing fake for me-I think they look tacky and they polite the landfill with plastic that won’t go away for hundreds of years.

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