Back in the day, plastic houseplants were the height of naffness. Then, suddenly, they weren’t any more. Who made them not naff is not important; what is important is that nowadays it is perfectly acceptable to fake – and this is good news for plant murderers like me.
When it comes to artificial plants, I do find quality varies and also the price. In short, there are plastic plants out there, and then there are some really plastic-y plants out there, and it’s all about watching out for the following things before you buy:
How to choose fakes that look real
Go for artificial plants with a naturally "plastic-y" aesthetic in real life: aloe, fiddle leaf figs, air plants, bird of paradise, banana trees, ferns, hostas and, of course, cacti and succulents. Watch out for too-bright colour and unnecessary details such as fake water droplets. Have fun with how you display them – if you suspect your plant doesn’t look as authentic as you’d hoped, distract the eye with bright pot holders and ceramics.
Which plants to buy first?
Choose plants that you wouldn’t ever have a hope in hell of keeping alive normally. I have never kept a Boston fern or orchid alive for more than a few weeks, so I’d plump for them first, before saving up for some of the more high-maintenance big boys like a fake 4ft-er cheese plant or banana plant.
Fabric or plastic?
There’s a tendency for fabric ones to fade in the sunlight, so I’d always plump for plastic versions over fabric, unless they are flowering plants, when silk is always the better option.
There are expensive fakes, there are super-cheap fakes and there are the somewhere in-between. You can get away with skimping on the smaller plants such as cacti, but if you want something big, be prepared to have to shell out some cash. Large artificial plants are expensive, too, but remember that you will have them for ever, you won’t need to get your neighbour in to water them while you’re away, plus they will never die on you. Also, they’re great if you are like me and far too impatient to wait a couple of years for that kind of thing to grow.
Big plants work anywhere
If you haven’t got much space, just one tall plant can make a real impact in a room and be what interior designers like to call “a focal point”. I really love big leafy ferns and anything bush-like, like an areca palm or a begonia tree. Apartment Therapy has compiled a useful list here.
Mix it up
There is no rule to say that by going faux you are banned from having any real plant in your collection, too – in fact, mixing fake with living is a good ploy if you’re not confident about your plant-keeping qualifications. I have written before about my plant that I cannot kill, which is called Victor Meldrew, and have rounded up a comprehensive list of murder-proof green things here. Choose some from this list, then pad out your collection with some big-impact, artificial greenery.
It’s all about the display
I love seeing big collections of plants, with different textures, leaf shapes and colours, and the more the merrier – it really adds a new dimension and depth to a room scheme. I could get all scientific and give you some rules about how to create an arrangement, but I’m not going to – life is far too short – however, I’d just advise you to think about varying the heights and sizes of your plants and to also think about adding some trailing plants and hanging pot plants into the mix, too.
Create a collection
A whole console table filled with a mix of very different pot plants makes a really cool feature in a room, like this one from Homes To Love, as does a windowsill.
Finally, don’t forget the hanging plants
Little air plants in baskets, ferns and spider plants look really cool displayed together. I love this idea from Growing Spaces using coat hooks.