How to choose faux plants for your home

Faux plants Leaf

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.

Leo and Pickle our rescue kittens from Cats Protection League
Say hello to Leo (L) and Pickle (R) our two gorgeous rescue kittens from Cats Protection League. If you ‘re thinking about re-homing cats, I would always recommend a rescue centre. At Cats Protection League, you will find all pets will have been checked properly by a vet, so there will be no nasty surprises. You will also benefit from free neutering, you’ll be given one month’s free pet insurance from Petplan and you’ll know their full history

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!

Evergreen Direct faux plants
[GIFT] I absolutely adore my artificial Monstera, 60cmH, £36.95, and artificial deluxe Kentia palm, 1.2m, £49.95, both from Evergreen Direct. They look so authentic and the kittens gave up playing with them as soon as they realised they aren’t the real thing! The Jute rope plant basket, £31.31, 28cm by 28cm, from Goodpick completes the look (L) with the Eva planter in burnt gold (R), from West Elm (no longer available), £20.79

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!

Sansevieria faux plant from Leaf and La Jolie Muse planter
Just look at this artificial sansevieria (Mother-in-Law’s tongue) featuring yellow and green leaves (55cm high), £29.99, from Leaf in my home. I’m delighted with it! I’ve partnered it with this gorgeous planter from La Jolie Muse, £27.99 for two slightly different designs and shapes

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.

Spotted evergreen faux plants with Pickle the kitten
I love my large Fox’s Aglaonema (spotted evergreen), 100cmH, £59.99, from Leaf Plants, which came with the silver planter I’ve used on one of my Mother-In-Law’s tongue faux plants, 70cms, £34.99. Pickle was rather disappointed when she discovered these weren’t real…!

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!

How striking is this fabulous faux Swiss Cheese Plant with stake, 1.25m, £219.99, from Dowsing and Reynolds? This statement piece is the perfect way to finish off a fireplace, and looks equally amazing in darker rooms and white minimalist space

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.

artificial Mica red maple from Bakker
Mix and match different faux plant colours and sizes for maximum impact. This distinct shade of this artificial Mica red maple, 1.5mH, £159.99, from Bakker is perfect for creating a botanical blend that won’t fade or drop

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.

Cox & Cox planters for faux plants
These textured standing planters from Cox & Cox, £175 for two – perfect for either real or faux houseplants – add an upmarket, artisan aesthetic to any interior. They are crafted from aluminium, with a textured, burnished gold finish

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.

Atsu standing planters from nkuku
These eye-catching Atsu standing planters from nkuku, £79.95 for small 56cmH and £120 for large, 78cmH, are shaped using traditional tools, and feature a tactile, imperfect finish

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.

Faux plants Leaf and mixed planters
My top tip:- Mixing your planters will add more depth to your design and create a relaxed feel in your home!

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.

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