As most of you know, I’m a super keen gardener and I absolutely love houseplants. I think that the right combination of greenery and colour adds interest, personality and can really ‘lift’ a room. Thankfully, over the years my houseplant casualty count has reduced as my fingers have got greener! You might also know that I’m a serious cat lover. The husband and I recently welcomed two absolutely adorable kittens, Pickle and Leo, into our home. In fact, we had to say goodbye to our poor beloved 20-year-old moggie, Mushka, when lockdown first began. He became terribly ill overnight and the vet thought he had suffered a stroke. You can imagine, we were devastated. The pain continues to ease, albeit slowly. So we then decided to offer our home to some more furry friends.
Keeping kittens safe
These two adorable kittens, Pickle and Leo from the Cats Protection League spend all their time sleeping, playing and eating . However, the latter has meant quite a few of our houseplants have been on the menu! So, this prompted me to check whether it was actually OK for the kittens to be chewing on my Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (surely a strong contender for the best plant name ever). To my horror, I discovered that many common houseplants are actually toxic to pets. I had absolutely no idea that this was the case. I can’t remember what Mushka used to do when he was younger. But I don’t remember noticing him touch a houseplant. Now, our adorable kittens’ welfare obviously comes first – but a home without houseplants really doesn’t appeal. The solution? Faux plants. Read on to discover how I think fake can still be fabulous.
Big and bold faux plants
My previous encounters with faux plants have been limited to smaller items that were perfect ‘no-maintenance’ options. You know, the ones for those hard-to-reach places. But, with cute little kittens, this meant that I needed to source something more sizeable for my sitting room. So, where to start? In an ideal world, it’s best to see faux plants (especially larger versions) in person before you buy. This allows you to get a closer look at all the details, and assess the texture, colours and quality. What looks great in photos doesn’t always live up to expectations in real life!
However, thanks to COVID-19, online shopping is still my default option, and Evergreen Direct has hugely impressed me. This family-run business has more than 20 years’ experience providing artificial plants and greenery. Their collections are realistic, long-lasting and durable – and pretty competitively priced, too!
Pass on perfection
When you’re choosing artificial plants, remember that your faux should not be flawless. Real plants aren’t perfect – they are never symmetrical, for example, and their colours are never completely even. Variations in shade and size always look far more realistic. So be prepared to embrace deliberate “imperfections” such as partially dried leaf edges and colour graduations. I do love Mother-in Law’s tongue so this artificial Sansevieria Zeylanica from Leaf Plants is an excellent example. Another favourite of mine from Leaf Plants is the artificial (and therefore non-toxic-to-pets) variegated leaf version. I love the combination of large yellow and green leaves – and the fact that there’s absolutely no maintenance!
Yet another great candidate to add to your statement faux plant collection is this fantastic replica Spotted Evergreen. In fact this model comes complete with a silver metal planter. If you see this in my home (see below), you won’t believe how realistic it looks! The stems are wired, so the leaves can be adjusted to perfectly accommodate almost any available space.
Location, location, location
Where you place your faux plants is a key element to consider. Where possible, always choose a believable location. In other words, place your plant somewhere it would plausibly thrive if it were real. Now, this might vary slightly according to the varieties you select. But a location that includes plenty of natural light and would be accessible enough to allow regular watering, if it was real, is perfect. However, if you’re determined to make sure your artificial options go undetected as such, don’t make the location too accessible!
Mix and match faux plants and real
Grouping a selection of plants together is a great way to tap into the popular biophilic trend. If they are faux, you can at least pretend to bring elements of the outside in. And while it might seem counter-intuitive, don’t be afraid to place a real plant amongst some artificial companions. It really does add some interesting texture and variety. You could even place a pruned branch or bloom in a vase of faux plants and grass. Then, ring the changes by replacing with a fresh one, as and when needed.
The perfect planter
As with so much in life, it’s the finishing touches that make all the difference. So make sure you pay attention to your planters! Most faux plants are sold with small, unassuming pots (often plastic!). So it may be worth investing in something a bit more special. Metallics are an obvious choice, especially if you’re keen to create a luxe look and feel.
Placing different faux plants in matching planters is a clever way to add impact and style to any space, They can look decidedly special in an entrance hall, sitting room or bathroom. I’m a big fan of brass as it’s one of my favourite metallic finishes. I think its warm tones are the perfect complement for lots of lush greenery (artificial or otherwise). However, I’m also a massive fan of mixing planter materials for a more relaxed feel. Now this may depend on the room you have in mind for them…try ceramics with jute and metallics for instance.
If you’re looking to accessorise a space that already features a selection of natural materials, there are plenty of organic alternatives to metallics. Jute, seagrass and rattan are all good choices to complement a rustic interior, and work equally with Scandi chic. They tend to be more cost-effective options too, if you’ve blown most of your budget on the faux plants to go inside them.
If you’re keen to enjoy your exterior garden plants for a little longer, check out my blog on how the find the best outdoor heater.