fake plants

How to Navigate the Taboo World of Faux Greenery

Hear us out.

Alec Kugler

I was once told that if you’re in a really good outfit, no one will notice if the jewelry is real or not. And guess what? It’s kinda true. After much trial and error that comes with quasi-adulthood, I’m happy to report that the same principle applies to more than just jewelry. Cue the fake plants, which are now happily nestled in every corner of my apartment.

Hear me out. Time is money, and I frankly don’t have enough of it to keep the undeserving ferns and ill-fated fiddle leaf figs alive. When it comes to sprucing up the place, nothing does the trick faster than a nice green plant, so I’ve decided to fake it ‘til I make it.

Fortunately for most New Yorkers, there is a plant shop that will rival the botanic gardens on every other block. Unfortunately for most New Yorkers, the strain of the city often rubs off on the wear and tear of our teeny apartments, plants included. We all have the friends who are self-proclaimed proud plant-parents, squirt-bottling and fertilizing their way to becoming Johnny Appleseed. If this sounds familiar, I applaud you. I truly believe that keeping a plant alive is neck-and-neck with the life of a small puppy. However traumatizing my trial and error endeavors into greenery have been, I’m grateful to have learned the secret behind an unwavering green thumb: just buy the fake plant.

While the idea of a faux fern may have your skin crawling, I checked in with a few of the industry’s finest when it comes to transforming an interior space (also, in part, to have a seasoned professional condone my newfound decorating vice). For Ariel Okin, who is not only one of the best in the business but is also known for curating picture-perfect spaces, faux florals are the way to go. “I love Diane James for her hyper realistic faux florals; her most recent collaboration with Aerin Lauder is particularly beautiful. Pottery Barn and OKA also each make beautiful faux florals and greenery—I've been very impressed by both.”

Two's Company

Diane James Home

While some options may seem a bit pricey, the seemingly lower cost of a live plant will add up if you have to keep replacing it (a discovery made after much trial and error). Some of my beloved counterfeits are so real, in fact, that I caught my own mom trying to water them. If you’re still not sold, Okin suggests a different route. “For those who are really faux-averse, we love The Green Vase, whose paper flowers are obviously not the real deal, but provide a quirky beauty and charm all their own”

Geranium Plant

The Green Vase

Bleeding Heart

The Green Vase

Morning Glory Plant

The Green Vase

If you really want to cement your fake plant’s status in the realm of high design, a beautiful planter will do just the trick. “I love a beautiful cachepot as a vessel—wicker, scalloped (Matilda Goad makes some very cute ones) and blue and white ceramic (spongeware, delft, chinoiserie) are all favorites,” Okin advises.

Scallop Tole Planter

Matilda Goad

Leos Planter

Burke Decor

New York-based interior designer Celerie Kemble is also no stranger to the world of faux greenery. She recommends sticking to waxy leaves, as they tend to be thicker and look more realistic, or tropicals. “You can also get away with some fig and olive trees as leaves are thick and waxy” she recommends.

Like Okin, Kemble is also a big fan of faux-florists. “Florists like Diane James have mastered the art of an arrangement that looks like it was done by hand. Many don’t know it, but oftentimes the florals in interior photoshoots aren’t real. It’s almost uncomfortable how realistic they can be.” Some of the pre-made arrangements even use fake water for an added illusion.

Single Stem Orchid Bloom

The Kemble Shop

Blooms Natural Charm

Diane James Home

Shop more of our favorite faux plants below:

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