Sites

Do not add water: Get the best and most realistic-looking fake plants

Ask the Expert Style
Fake-Plants-CB2-Succulent
CB2's faux potted succulent. CB2

Faux houseplants used to be, well, a faux pas. Interior designer Jennifer Davis of Minneapolis was recently staging a house for a woman who had been trained in interior design 60 years ago. She said that “her professor would roll in her grave if she used faux plants.’’ In her time, artificial plants were a strict no-no, probably because they looked as fake as they were.

That’s no longer the case. Today’s artificial houseplants look closer to the original than the “plastic-y’’ ones designers of yore abhorred. “In the past 10 years or so, the quality has improved tremendously,’’ said Leia Ward of the staging firm LTW Design in New Canaan, Conn., noting that these days it’s harder to tell artificial ones from the real thing.

As live plants have become more popular to own in the past few years, some people are finding that they either can’t keep plants alive or parts of their homes don’t have enough light. “The younger generations are really busy, focused on kid things, focused on their careers,’’ Davis said. “They might not have the attention span to focus on live plants every day.’’

Enter the fakes, which are growing in popularity right along with real plants. In response to this demand, in 2019, even the New York-based online plant delivery business the Sill launched a faux plant line. When plant and interior stylist Hilton Carter, based in Baltimore, did a plant line for Target this year, he made sure to include faux options. “Faux can help an individual elevate a space when they’re trying to pull in as much greenery as possible,’’ Carter said.

Fake-Plants-Bloomist-Olive-Spray
The EcoFaux arbequina olive spray from Bloomist. —Bloomist

When looking for a plant, Davis recommends researching the real versions of any dupes you’re considering. “Make sure you know what it looks like,’’ she said, “because the stem or tree trunk can give it away.’’ Look especially at the color of the original plant. “Most plants are not a solid color,’’ Davis explained, noting that cheap versions of fake plants might have that solid-hue plastic look.

Quality faux plants can be worth the investment to get the most realistic version, Davis said, though a discerning eye could even find one at big-box stores. Wherever you shop, look for variation in leaf color and shape. (Carter points out that his faux plants had emerging blooms or leaves.)

Often, fake houseplants come in “pretty sad’’ pots, Davis said, so look for ones with character. Check the height of the plant inside its new pot, and prop it up if needed. Put preserved moss around the plant’s base to give it added life, said Erin Marino, editorial lead at the Sill, and replace the moss once it becomes too dusty.

If there are wire stems, Davis suggested bending them to make the branches look as though they are aiming for light.

Fake-Plants-Artificial-Plant
The artificial branch plant arrangement from Target. —Target.com

Decorate with a mix

If you can, use both real and fake plants in your home. In areas that can support live plants, go for it, but in dark areas, don’t be afraid to go faux.

Also vary the type of faux plants you choose. “It’s always important to have a mix of sizes, colors, shapes, [and] varieties just to create that sort-of outdoor look,’’ Carter said. “You don’t look outside and see the same type of plant, tree, shrub. . . . Mixing it up can make it feel more tropical or more desert. . . . Lushness is what I go for.’’

Caring for faux houseplants

Though they are easy to care for, fake plants aren’t necessarily no-maintenance. Marino recommended dusting the leaves occasionally to keep them looking real. “You can use a paper towel, feather duster, even a hairdryer on low,’’ she said.

Try to keep them out of bright direct light and avoid spaces with high moisture, both of which could discolor the plants faster, Marino advised. If they get stains, try spot-cleaning them with a cloth and warm, soapy water.

Forget worrying about overwatering, underwatering, seeking out sun, and pesky bugs. “Faux plants make life a little simpler,’’ Ward said.

“It’s OK to have a faux plant in your home,’’ Carter reassured. “Don’t feel pressured to always shove these living plants into the corners of your home and then have them die on you.’’

Subscribe to our free real estate newsletter at pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp. Follow us on FacebookLinkedInInstagram, and Twitter @globehomes.