Mad About . . .

The Best Faux Plants

19th April 2017
faux monstera plant from rose and grey image by erica davies

faux monstera plant from rose and grey image by erica davies

It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that houseplants are having a moment. This may be a short-lived trend or it may turn out to be a longer term look, but either way it’s true to say that rooms are starting to look as if there is something missing when there is no foliage. Now there was a bit of an interior designers hissy fit at the end of last year when Pantone named its colour of the year as Greenery, which turned out to be a rather yellowy version – like, er green leaves basically. But the company bases its decision more on a feeling or reflection of world mood (in as far as that is possible) rather than actually suggesting we stick it all over the walls. Put like that this shade becomes much more acceptable if you view it as actual greenery rather than paint.

faux monstera plant from rose and grey

faux monstera plant from rose and grey is £165 but is extremely realistic

Talking of colour of the year, Dulux named a soft blue as its choice but within the palettte was a lovely soft green called wild cactus so they are broadly on the same page. When it comes to green paint, the mood is much more towards the soft olives and foresty greens which are popping up everywhere now. You can read about how Dulux comes up with its choices here but for now we talking greenery as in plants. If you were here yesterday you will also recall that my guest blogger, Ciara Elliott, editor of EKBB magazine, also mentioned going green as one of her top five styling tips for 2017.

But what if you’re a plant murderer? If you have a hand that’s missing the green finger? What if you can’t be bothered to water them? Or, as is more often the case, you tend to kill with kindness? Well in that case the faux is your friend. Yes faking it is now totally acceptable. However, you have to hunt about – and spend some money to get the good ones. I’m afraid, as is so often the case, that you get what you pay for.

grey bathroom of kate watson-smyth by paul craig

grey bathroom photo by paul craig

So here are some of the good ones as recommended by me and some of my fellow bloggers who have invested. First up is this Monstera, or Cheese Plant from Rose & Grey. Now I have this one and I think you know me well enough to know by now that if it wasn’t any good I wouldn’t be writing this post. Yes, they sent it to me but, believe me, I get sent quite a lot of stuff and some of it goes straight back out to the charity shop or recycling – sometimes before it’s fully out of the wrapping. I have had this one for a couple of months and it regularly fools people who come to visit. I would have paid for this. Here you can see it in The Mad Bathroom next to two real plants – the smaller of which is currently dying a long slow death  – I can’t decide if its due to under or overwatering but its leaves are wilting by the day which is all the more reason for faking it.

faux cheese plant by blooming artificial

faux cheese plant by blooming artificial image by Carole King at Dear Designer

This is another faux cheese, this time by Blooming Artificial which costs an easier £56.99. Carole King, of Dear Designer whose bedroom this is, says she has no problem recommending this one. But she does have a top tip, which I would definitely echo.

“You must repot them. All the pots – no matter how much you pay – are always too small and lightweight,” she says. Jen Stanbrook, of Love Chic Living, also praises these plants and points out that Blooming Artificial does recommend that you repot – and then handily – sells the equipment that you will need. Yes, I know but it’s a selling world we live in. This seems to be the key point though – repot or you’ll give the game away.

faux fern from cox and cox

faux fern from cox and cox

There have also been good reports from Cox and Cox whose fern is seen above and which costs £50. Now those would appear to be the top three places but they’re not failsafe. The issue is the type of plant you are trying to fake. The tropical plants which have large and quite plasticky leaves in the first place, are easier to copy. Abigail Ahern’s Carolina Banana plant is a case in point. It’s huge and I’ve seen it in store and it looks great. But at £685 it really is an investment.

Succulents and cacti are also easier to fake for the same reason but if you prefer more delicate plants such as ferns you might want to either look at them in real life first, or be prepared to shop around until you find one that works for you and send back the ones that don’t work.

As a final tip I have done some digging (in my fake earth) and found that the monstera from Rose and Grey is made by a Danish designer called Lene Bjerre. Now I haven’t seen any of her other plants, but if that one is so good it stands to reason that the others are worth a look as well. There are UK sites selling them but they don’t always give her name. I have linked to her range so you can do your own compare and contrast when you are looking at other places.

abigal ahern faux banana plant

abigail ahern faux banana plant

I would also suggest that you mix and match real and faux in a cluster which will help hide the fake one. It’s the wardrobe principle – if you are wearing Prada shoes and carrying a designer handbag no-one will think your jeans are from Sainsburys. Finally, don’t stick a fake plant in the middle of the coffee table where it will be in prime view. Keep it as an accent piece – on a shelf or livening up a corner. Somewhere where it will look good but won’t be centre stage. That way you are more likely to fool more of the people more of the time.

fiddle leaf fig at madaboutthehouse.com

real fiddle leaf fig at madaboutthehouse.com

But if fake really isn’t your thing then fiddle leaf figs are beautiful, expensive, moody and absolutely the plant of the decade – see mine above. The fashion house Celine used them in its stores and there has been a run on them. If you can even get one it will cost a small fortune, but they are fabulous. I have had mine for nearly a year now and it’s going strong. Below is the magnificent specimen belonging to Kimberly Duran, of Swoonworthy, who explains how she looks after hers and where she bought it from.

fiddle leaf fig by swoonworthy

fiddle leaf fig by swoonworthy

One final point – everyone’s opinion on what looks real will differ. My mother wouldn’t be taken in by any of these and they do vary from plant to plant. This is intended as a guide to a good place to start looking. I have also heard good things about some of the Ikea ones but you will need to see what you think about them in your own house. On the other hand, if you find any good ones then let us know in the comments below because, in my case, investing in a faux looks like it may be cheaper than to keep on replacing all the real ones.

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  • Ugne Silenas 24th April 2017 at 9:06 am

    Great plants!, but the bedside table with a built in light, where can I find that? Let me know if if you can tell! Thank you!

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 24th April 2017 at 11:27 am

      Hi Ugne, They are two separate pieces – ie it’s a silver table with a silver lamp on the top. I’m pretty sure the lamp is from Ikea as I have the same one. The way it is photographed makes it look like it is all one piece though so you could do the same thing. If you want a table with a lamp that is integral then I may have, er, designed one for my collection at made.com you can see it at the link….

  • Anna International 20th April 2017 at 1:13 pm

    Great post Kate. Having finally accepted my black thumbs, I am gradually replacing my deceased plants with faux. First up, a string of pearls by Abigail Ahern for the bathroom to replace the one I bought from Bloom & Wild and killed within a month 🙁 I honestly do not know how I do it. It looks fabulous though and I am over the moon at how low maintenance it is, i.e. an occasional rinse off of dust once in a while! (We’re still embroiled in building work so our house is very dusty) I love the ones by Cox&Cox too. Just wish I could stick to the rule of interspersing with real ones, but it’s just too heartbreaking to have them keep dying on me!

  • Anna 19th April 2017 at 5:35 pm

    This is a brilliant and much-appreciated piece of research which has saved me hours if not days! Thank you. I take the point on re-potting but have struggled to find good sources of interesting large plant pots online. Anyone had more luck?

  • Sofia 19th April 2017 at 2:26 pm

    I like the idea and have been fooled before which was exciting but after knowing it’s not real I suddenly stop enjoying it. It will work for many but to me part of joy of having plants is to have something that it’s alive and that gives dome life to the room. Plastic doesn’t convey that no matter how great it looks. I wish I liked them though:/

  • Rachel Griffiths 19th April 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Great article on faux plants. We’re specialists in artificial flowers,plants and greenery and we have used them in our client projects for many years. The quality of some of the plants is outstanding both to look at and to touch, but we agree, you do get what you pay for!
    We make everything by hand in the UK and arrange our faux flowers and plants with natural materials and in a wide range of pots (saves you doing!) In our experience it is the combination of top quality faux and what you choose to put it in, that is so important. If you have time, take a look at our online range http://www.rtfactflowers.co.uk and let us know what you think. We always love a bit of feedback.

  • Suzanne Morse 19th April 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Really helpful. I keep killing my plants but would love something green in my living room. This could be the answer.
    Your bathroom looks gorgeous. We are doing our bathroom at the moment. It is painted railings and I brought home a tile sample last week that looks suspiciously similar, if not the same as the ones in your shower. Wasn’t sure how it was all going to work but seeing yours has given us the confidence to go for it. Thanks yet again Kate.

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 19th April 2017 at 3:42 pm

      Your bathroom sounds gorgeous. I love ours and am really pleased we went dark – although the Sago palm – see other comments – appears to be less happy! You must come back and show us all a picture of your finished bathroom. x

  • Choice Furniture Superstore 19th April 2017 at 10:48 am

    Nice post on Faux Plants. Plants can give a refreshing look to a room and also can be used as a decorative item. It’s good to have some greenery in a room.

  • Sonia 19th April 2017 at 10:19 am

    I am generally impressed with fake orchids. We have some at work and I was completely taken in, asking how we had managed to find space in the budget for them! Again I think they work because they have waxy leaves and flowers – plus the real ones are often kept in minimal growing medium so you wouldn’t expect to see a giant pot of soil. So frequently in the past I threw out an orchid that died, which is a crying shame given how long they take to cultivate before they get to the shop.

    Though PS I bought 2 real orchids from Ikea about 18 months ago for £6 each and they are the only ones I have ever had which have flowered repeatedly and grown new flower spurs.

    • Denise 20th April 2017 at 10:45 pm

      Try the Bayer/Baby Bio link below to see the orchid drip feeder bottles. They are about 4 inches long and you get five or six to a box for about £5. Have revived many a poorly orchid with these.

  • Eve 19th April 2017 at 9:53 am

    Maison du monde do an identical banana plant to Abigail ahern for much cheaper. Identical. I have one.

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 19th April 2017 at 11:44 am

      oh that’s interesting….. I’m off to investigate….

  • Lazy Daisy Jones 19th April 2017 at 9:21 am

    I have seen some plant fakery magic in Homesense recently !

  • Ruthie 19th April 2017 at 9:11 am

    Oh yes! These are lovely examples Kate, I have the Cox & Cox fern and thoroughly recommend. You’re so right about adding them in with real ones, it definitely helps to create an illusion that they may struggle with on their own…

  • Denise 19th April 2017 at 8:30 am

    Morning

    I really rate bloom.uk.com for fakery – their photos are good quality and I’ve found (both for flowers and foliage) that if they look good in the photo, then they are good in the flesh. Pay particular attention to stems, too: I have found that leaves and petals can look great, but that stems (by all sorts of suppliers) can look a bit like florists’ wire or too plasticky.

    Oddly enough, I thought that the most obviously fake plant on today’s post was the ridiculously expensive Abigail Ahern one! Please don’t expel me from the “Koop Kids’ Krowd” for not liking it – indeed, not really liking anything she’s done…

    Kate, your dying plant in the bathroom: is it a fern of some kind? If so, they are woodland plants which like a cool, dry environment, so a bright window in a sometimes humid environment will be their deathknell. Try it near (a few feet from) a north or east facing window, water well, drain all the excess off, then leave it for a week. It’s also quite a small pot for such a lot of foliage. It is probably also starving to death. A low cost, low effort way to test this is one or two of these, snip the tip off, stuck one centimetre into the soil:

    https://www.bayergarden.co.uk/Products/b/Baby-Bio-Original-Drip-Feeders

    The orchid ones are great too (for orchids, obviously!).

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 19th April 2017 at 8:59 am

      Denise, as ever you are a mine of information. The dying plant might be a fern – it’s quite spiky though. I had thought it was yellow leaves for overwatering and brown for under but perhaps I made that up. It’s in dark north-facing room which may also be its problem. I think I have overwatered and wonder if it’s some sort of cactus fern – is that a thing? I am going to buy an automatic waterer and yes will perhaps repot. And also, speak severely to it.

      • Steph 19th April 2017 at 11:21 am

        Denise and Kate: the small plant looks like a version of a Sago palm. They are quite expensive when full size but grow everywhere here in Florida. They are susceptible to a couple of different “mungs” that require some love and attention, but it is most likely getting too much water and not enough sun. Sunniest place you can find and back off the water…. xoxo Keep up the good writing! I really enjoy it every morning. We have a little store called Loggia that stocks the best littler faux plants. I sneak them in all over and no one ever notices…..

        • Kate Watson-Smyth 19th April 2017 at 11:47 am

          yes I have just managed to google it – having seen a fake one in my travels and realising they were the same thing. I’m sure it’s too much water and I have backed off with that. Think the yellow is spreading though and I’m not sure I can save it. Will move it to a sunny spot and see if it perks up… thank you for helping.

  • WeezyNeill 19th April 2017 at 7:53 am

    Ikea do a small potted faux herb with textured matt leaves which looks so convincing (re-potted) that my chef friend thought it was some kind of real herb and was trying to guess which one. Looks great in a black and white rustic pot in the corner of our bath.

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