Say Yes to Fake Plants

For years, fake house plants and flowers have gotten a bad rap. Known to look waxy and gaudy while collecting loads of dust, these faux alternatives to the real thing have long been synonymous with "downright ugly." In short, a major home-design no-no.
But in recent years, many furniture manufacturers, like Z Gallerie and Pier 1 Imports, have added increasingly real-looking fake plants to their collections, bringing attractive options into the mix. You actually have to touch most of them to tell if they're real or not, and best of all, they're maintenance-free. "I'm still warming up to the idea of fake plants -- I just don't think they're a replacement for the real thing," says Sara Ransick, designer and manager at Ethan Allen in Arlington, Virginia. "But I have to admit, when you can't always take care of a houseplant, a smattering of good looking fake plants can be a great alternative."

The key to incorporating faux plants into your home: Don't overdo it. For potted greenery, many designers suggest placing one or two plants up high, so they're not the focal point of the room but more like fillers for empty space. Fake flowers (Ransick recommends small arrangements in "water" in glass containers) can be set on side tables or on a decorated bookshelf for a pop of color. As for larger plants, like fake trees, think about placing them in a corner or behind larger furniture pieces to carry the height and weight, says Ransick.

So what are the most real-looking options for fake plants and flowers? Your best bet is to stick with species boasting petals and leaves in shades that actually occur in nature; in other words, skip the hot pink carnations with neon green stems. Orchids, tulips, hydrangeas and small bouquets of pastel roses are tasteful choices. For plants, bushy ficus trees and palms are popular picks, as well as potted grasses, overflowing ivy and bonsai bushes. Many homeowners are also opting for faux topiaries to add interest to their home's entrance or to flank an interior space like a fireplace.

You can find faux plants almost anywhere these days, from Michael's and IKEA to high-end retailers, depending on the price you want to pay. Natural Decorations, the nation's largest wholesaler of high-end fake plants, trees and flowers, also has a great selection, but remember that they're strictly wholesale, which means that you won't be able to buy direct but you will see a list of retail outlets.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

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