The Secret to Convincing Fake Plants Is Also Having Real Ones—Here’s How to Make It Work

updated May 29, 2020
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Credit: The Sill

I’m a proud plant parent, but I have a little secret: Some of my little green friends are actually faux. Sure, nothing compares to the satisfaction of watching your monstera develop new fenestrations or discovering that your citrus tree has finally produced a tiny lemon. But there’s also something to be said for adding a few pieces to the mix that don’t require watering, repotting, and all that jazz, particularly if plants on plants is your aesthetic.

So how exactly do you incorporate faux plants into your space, and is there a specific way you should style them alongside real ones? “Like with live plants, there are no set rules when it comes to decorating [with faux ones], only a thousand possibilities,” says Erin Marino of The Sill. Better yet, faux plants obviously don’t require any sunlight, so placement opportunities throughout your home are truly endless—though putting a plant in a windowless room could be a dead giveaway of its phoniness. That said, you can really go in any direction you choose, but these tips will help you mix real and fake plants with aplomb.

Mix Faux Plants with Real Ones

It might seem counterintuitive, but the key to making faux plants look real is mixing them in with the live plants you already have. This will keep the look “fresh and playful,” Marino notes. “It will also help make the spots where you use faux only—be it a high shelf or a dark corner—seem natural and organic and less out of place within your greater decorating scheme.”

Worried about potential plant-whisperers seeing right through your setup? “If you’re able to use faux plants that have similar light and care requirements to the live plants they’re grouped with, even better,” Marino suggests. Another hot tip? Don’t cheap out on your fake plants, if possible—especially when it comes to larger, more prominent pieces. Convincing fakes can last a lifetime, so it’s worth investing in something that’s made of quality materials. If you do snag a deal on a budget plant baby that looks a little plasticky though, not to worry. Be strategic about its placement: Its less than convincing leaves will be less noticeable on a high shelf of a tall bookcase, for example.

Credit: The Sill

Stick to One Style of Planter

The Sill’s faux plants are sold in the same planters as their live counterparts. “This was a thoughtful choice, as we wanted our faux plants to become an evergreen offering and not feel like ‘the ugly stepsister,'” says Marino. So why not adapt this philosophy in your own home, regardless of where you score your fakes? “Not only does keeping your live and faux plants in similar containers help your faux plants look more polished, but this increases the likelihood of them appearing real,” adds Marino. “If you give your artificial plants the same love you do your real ones in terms of presentation, they’ll aesthetically harmonize in your space.”

If you really want to go the extra mile, you could even add a layer of real dirt, moss, or pot filler to the top of your fakes’ planters. This aesthetic choice might require a little extra tending though, so keep that in mind. Don’t be afraid to gently tweak or slightly bend the placement of a few of the leaves or stems as much as you can without damaging them. This can help a fake look a little less uniform.

Go Big in Your Home

When it comes to fake plants, there’s no need to start small! In fact, going bigger can actually be better, since substantial faux pieces can anchor your space and serve as a framework for adding in—and learning to properly care for—smaller, live plants. “If you like to change things up on the regular or are a brand new plant parent, you might want to invest in larger faux plants,” Marino advises. “Then go au natural with your smaller potted plants, which are less expensive and easier to change out and move around.”

Credit: The Sill

Maintenance is Key

Yes, fake plants are not living, breathing organisms, but they still need a little bit of love to stay in tip-top shape. “Just like live plants, faux plants can collect dust,” says Marino. “Wipe faux leaves down about once a month to keep them looking nice and healthy.” But all in all, caring for these guys doesn’t involve a lot of elbow grease!

Selecting a good fake plant might take a little more time than shopping for a real one. But with these tips, you’ll be able to work artificial plants seamlessly into your setup, and no one will be the wiser!