Faux Friends: My obsession with faux houseplants that won’t let you down.

I adore plants and feel they add life to every space – the bigger the better!  I rarely stage  houses that I don’t think need a plant or more plants.  But I have also gone through stages in my life where I just cannot have one more thing that solely relies on me for its sustenance. Thus my ongoing quest for the perfect faux plants. Plants that look so real your houseguests will offer to water them. Interested? I have a few tricks to share with my fellow travelers. 

Image credit Studio McGee

Go for naturally ‘plastic-y’ looking varieties.

Pick plants that, when they are real, have leaves that already look a bit like they could be plastic.  Good examples are: succulents, banana trees, mother-in-law tongue, aloe, fiddle leaf figs, air plants, lotus leafs, philodendrons, maguey stems, monster leaves and certain types of ferns. Since real ones already can look fake, it makes the fake ones look real. 

When I picked this up from my clients house yesterday it was clear someone had watered it.

Above, I mixed a faux lace fern with a faux asparagus fern.  I got these in Dallas at Nicolson Hardy on Lover’s Lane.  Their designer worked with me for free, selecting the perfect planter and helped me styling it.  Pro tip – ask for help. 

Succulents are an ideal plant to go faux. Image credit from Defined Design.

Styling is huge.

When you are trying to emulate a real plant, perfection & symmetry are not what you are going for.  Real plants lean toward the light and are not equally full so style them like they were real. I usually re-pot them in something less generic or at least pop them into a floppy basket.  Make sure the pot size matches the proportions of a real plant’s root ball.   I often add some dirt, stones, or at least moss on top of the faux dirt.

My neighbor created this succulent arrangement for her covered porch – faux perfection.

Similarly, putting a plant in a place where it could never ever live is a give away.  If it’s a dark bathroom with no windows, pick a different decorating prop.

There are lots of places to find a faux staghorn fern. I got mine at Etsy from Bohemian Goods.

To look live, add some dead.

Real plants have imperfect and dead leaves.  One trick I used for the staghorn fern above is to gather bits of dead leaves and moss and tuck that around the base of the plant. I do that in some form with most all my faux plants.

The faux staghorn fern was the perfect addition to my gallery wall. 

I put my staghorn together with an oval precut board that I stained and hung with a strip of leather. Here are step by step instructions from Gardenista.  

fiddle leaf
Image credit Studio McGee

The ever popular fiddle leaf tree also can look very realistic in plastic.  I gave this purchase lots of thought because a 6 foot faux fiddle leave will set you back.  For me this is a business expense since I can put this in practical every house I’m staging to sell.  And most rooms can benefit from a big beautiful bit of green. A faux tree won’t mind me dragging it around, house to house or room to room in a photoshoot. This extensive Apartment Therapy article helped me make my selection.

Central Market grocery store has an amazing selection of preserved flowers in with the fresh and their staff is amazing at advising on your arrangement, even if you bring in your own vase.

Preserved Real Plants

I also use preserved real plants and flowers. One of my favorite tricks to gather rice flowers, limonium, billy balls, or golden yarrow in low dense arrangements. I like these arrangements in solid color containers so you don’t see the stems or the fact they need no water.

I made these for my dining room in January & they still look fresh in May.  All the flowers are from the 3 for $12 bins at Central Market. 

These are more fragile than plastic, but if you take care of them they can last a long time. 

I love Billy Balls & monochromatic arrangements are so chic. Photo credit here.

I also love to mix faux silk flowers with the real preserved flowers like I did here for staging a client’s bedside tables.



That said, I don’t recommend you fill your whole house with fake plants. Defiantly steer clear of bad fakes (run from faux rain drops).  Instead, layer in some low maintenance, easy care real plants punctuated by a few strategically placed & styled faux friends.

Do you have any faux friends to share? I’d really love an introduction. Please comment below!


Feature image credits here from Elise Larson’s fab blog “A Beautiful Mess.” 

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