Faking it: How faux plants and flowers can liven up indoor and outdoor spaces

25th Apr 19 | Lifestyle

Don't have the conditions, time or green fingers to tend real plants? Sam Wylie-Harris reveals how to go artificially green in style.

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If your home isn’t blessed with natural sunlight, artificial flowers can be a godsend, especially when you consider the vast array of faux bunches and stems that sometimes look better than the real thing.

But what about your outdoor space? If it’s looking a little lacklustre, you could give it the wow factor and fake it with plants that keep on giving, come rain or shine.

“If you’re time short, not naturally green-fingered, or the growing environment isn’t conducive to natural plants, you can always use artificial greenery,” says George Brooke, senior design manager at Cameron Landscapes & Gardens (camerongardens.co.uk).

“Plants are getting more and more realistic, although we always recommend using a combination of natural and artificial for the best effect.”

Lavender in umber tall pot, £129, Furniture Village (Furniture Village/PA)
Lavender in Umber Tall Pot, currently reduced to £129 from £169, Furniture Village (Furniture Village/PA)

Real plants may not flourish on balconies, roof gardens or terraces if there’s not enough light, it’s too hot, too cold, too damp, you’re not there to care for them, or they trigger allergies – which can be enough to make you hang up your trowel. Even more reason to consider going faux with your foliage.

For springtime inspiration on artificial greens you’ll enjoy for years to come, here, we take a look at the art of faking it…

1. What can faux plants do for a garden?

“They can provide instant impact,” says Brooke. “Many plants take years to establish, so introducing artificial ones to bulk out the initial real planting gives an immediate sense of maturity and volume to the foliage.”

2. Do you recommend mixing faux plants and real foliage?

Artificial greenwall of magnolia, bay and buxus. Depth provided by pots planted with natural multi stems underplanted with seasonal bulbs for atmosphere, scent and colour (Cameron Gardens/Chris Snook/PA)
Artificial greenwall of magnolia, bay and buxus. Depth provided by pots planted with natural multi stems underplanted with seasonal bulbs for atmosphere, scent and colour (Cameron Gardens/Chris Snook/PA)

“We like to use a blend of artificial and real, which helps reduce maintenance and provides a lush feel. For instance, natural plants encourage wildlife, offer scent, texture and colour, while artificial climbers are fantastic,” adds Brooke. “So are green ‘living’ walls, and internal palms, trees and shrubs are incredibly realistic and effective.”

3. Where’s best to use artificial plants and make them look as natural as possible?
“Use them where real plants will not thrive, such as small dark corners,” Brooke suggests. “Don’t over-complicate your arrangement by using too many species. Finer leaf faux plants tend to look more real, as the large leaf plants can be too shiny. On a terrace, a series of pots containing a mix of real and faux plants bedded into soil or preserved moss can look brilliant.”

4. Should people consider a fake lawn?
“[They] are particularly good for smaller areas, or where you have children or pets who will churn the lawn into a muddy mess, or a garden that lacks light or is overhung with trees, so turf won’t survive,” says Brooke.

5. Do some gardeners regard ‘faux’ as cheating?
“I’m sure they do. There’s a real argument that artificial lawns suppress worms from aerating the soil and have an adverse effect. And of course, artificial plants do not encourage wildlife and insects,” says Brooke. “We love real plants and always use them where possible. However, we also understand the reality of people’s lives today, and believe there’s always an argument for the right material in the right place.”

6. How do you protect faux flowers, plants and shrubs from the outdoor elements?
“Like lamps, cushions or any fabric/furniture, they do need cleaning and dusting,” says Brooke. “Artificial plants are plastic, so they do survive a long time, and if you’re worried about them fading in the sunshine, you can get UV stable options which can withstand the elements.”

Bring the outdoors in

Don’t have an outdoor space? Don’t worry – bring the outdoors in with these faux flowers for interiors, which look as good as the real thing…

Faux lilac stems, faux hydrangea panicula stems and faux clover plants, from £6 per stem, from a selection at OKA (OKA/PA)
Faux lilac stems, faux hydrangea panicula stems and faux clover plants, from £6 per stem, from a selection at OKA (OKA/PA)

“The benefits of faux flowers over real ones are endless. You’re not restricted by the seasons, so you can enjoy your favourite blooms all year round. They’re incredibly realistic but unlike real flowers, require no maintenance and won’t wilt and die,” says Lucinda Waterhouse, co-founder, OKA. “Although a bunch of faux flowers might cost more than the real thing, they are eternal, so think of them as an investment.

“You can bring the vibrancy of your summer garden inside with our collection of faux flowers and plants. Unrivalled in quality, our faux flowers are not only incredibly realistic but also practical and extremely low-maintenance.

“Swap individual faux flower stems in and out as the seasons change,” she suggests, “to keep your arrangements seasonal. And pop some water in a clear vase to create the illusion your faux flower arrangement is the real thing.”

© Press Association 2019

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