Fool Your Friends With These Faux Houseplant Tips

published May 26, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Amazon)

The year was 1995, and there was a ficus tree that lived in the corner of our living room, beside the couch. The tree had a wicker basket over the base with shredded moss covering the soil. The leaves were a deep green, splattered with soft yellow variegation. My mom never watered it, but it never died.

I thought, at the ripe age of six, that if I did not touch the tree as my mom demanded, it would grant me a wish. Unfortunately, the ficus was not a magical fairytale tree. It was a fake silk tree that became a point of familial contention.

You might have memories of similar plants from your childhood. Even better—you might have inherited one from a relative when you rented your first apartment. Perhaps you promptly threw it in the dumpster, or maybe you kept it for old times’ sake (aka guilt).

My mom hated that tree. Soon, I hated that tree. It was my job, on occasion, to try to dust the dang thing. Impossible: Dust stuck to the fabric leaves like velcro, so it never looked perfectly clean. We pushed it further and further into the corner until my mom finally tossed it in the trash.

That experience turned me off faux houseplants—and I thought that distaste would last my entire life. I didn’t mind a lovely silk flower wreath, but I despised fake plants well into my twenties.

But recently, faux houseplants have become a hot commodity. Gone is their reputation for being faded-out dust traps lurking in dark corners. Technology lets us produce extremely realistic plastic and fabric replicas of our green friends—the perfect option for folks that want greenery in their homes but:

  1. Travel a lot and cannot care for living houseplants
  2. Want to place houseplants in sunless or hard-to-reach places
  3. Are worried about children or pets eating a houseplant.

There might be other reasons why you might want a faux houseplant, too, and that’s okay! Don’t be ashamed of these work-free alternatives. If you’re intrigued but worried about being called out as a plant-cheater, try these three tips to make faux feel fabulous.

1. Distance is your friend

Imitation house plants look best from a distance—when you can’t get close enough to tell that they’re fake. To pull off the guise, don’t put these plants where your guests can pick them up and took at them. The most successful deceptions are placed in hard-to-access spots. Professionals and amateurs alike use this maneuver. You’ll find falsies placed like this in professional office spaces, department stores, and more.

Guests will only see beautiful foliage cascading from a ledge or shelfand you won’t have to climb a ladder to water!   

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman for Apartment Therapy)

2. Choose quality over quantity

Have you ever been in a craft store and spied the “Buy 1 Get 2 Free” sign on the cheap-o plastic succulents? You’ve probably turned the thought of buying them over in your head—the deal is good! But when you picked it up the little plastic leaves looked cheap. And extremely fake.

Avoid purchasing products that look fake, because they’ll look like you bought them at the dollar store. If you’re going for the gold in the faux plant department, spend a little extra and invest in products that look real. Do your research instead of pulling the trigger on something in a flash sale.

Additionally, steer away from fabric plants that will fade and bleach in the sun. Plastic-based plants look more realistic and won’t wear and tear like the silk products of years past.

Looking for a fiddle-leaf fig? We’ve got the best faux options here.

3. Clean, clean, clean

No matter what type of faux houseplant you end up with, it is imperative that you keep it free of dust and grime. There’s nothing worse than having a beautiful space tainted with the presence of a dirty silk or plastic plant. It mars the entire room. You don’t need to water the plants, but add them to your weekly cleaning routine.

Here’s how to keep them sparkling: Make a solution of warm water and dish soap, then wipe at the the plants with a rag that has been dipped into the mixture. The longer you let grime build up, the harder it is to get the leaves clean—especially on silk or fabric leaves.

Faux houseplants might not be for everyone, but they work well in specific situations. Curious? There’s not harm in giving these alternatives a try. After all, if you don’t like it you can always give it away as a gift.