Want peonies come winter? You can have them. Fake blossoms―from amaryllises to zinnias―come in opaque containers or clear glass or plastic vases.
What to look for: Petals and leaves should appear and feel waxy, velvety, or filmy, like their counterparts in nature. Most artificial blooms are made with cotton or polyester petals and leaves, which are stiffer and hold dyes and paint better. The best stems feature vinyl-coated wire and natural details, like nodules and thorns. Flowers are sold individually (starting at $3) or in premade bouquets (from $20). Expert Tips
Mold them into shape. Many faux flowers are packaged stick-straight, says Diane James, a permanent-botanical designer in Norwalk, Connecticut. Gently heat them with a hair dryer to relax the petals.
Mix and match blooms of slightly different shades. “A bouquet of cream roses that have the exact same tone will look dead, because that’s just not what you see in nature,” says James.
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Plants and Branches
Unlike the real deal, imitations have flowers that won’t dry up and shrivel and leaves that stay green through the years.
What to look for: Opt for plants and branches with leaves or twigs of various lengths set at different angles. They should contain wire so you can bend and shape them, says Matt Wood, a designer for Winward International, a permanent-botanical company in Union City, California. Also search for bark that is textured and mottled, not smooth, and berries and fruit that are slightly pliable. Prices range from $15 for a potted fern to $290 for an eight-foot bird-of-paradise; potted orchids can cost $600. Branches cost from $6 to $70 each; arrangements start at $100. Expert Tips
Add real elements. Fake plants are often potted with “a mixture of sawdust, paint, and glue that resembles cookies-and-cream ice cream,” says Wood. Cover the surface with dirt, rocks, or moss.
Consider where you live. A cluster of palm branches is a natural choice for a Spanish-style home in Phoenix. But in a New England Colonial? Only if you’re throwing a tiki party.
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Sure, the genuine ones are low-maintenance. But for chronic overwaterers (you know who you are), things can get prickly fast. Give yourself a break and stick to these fakes.
What to look for: These “plants” should feel supple and have plenty of leaves (think 8 or 10 spikes on an aloe plant, for instance). Avoid super-shiny versions; the best ones have a matte finish, achieved by applying latex followed by a dusting of talc. Inspect leaves for shading; many real plants are “light green in the middle, with the edges tinged burgundy,” says Wood. Potted succulents start at $15. Expert Tips
Place succulents on a coffee table. Low, flat plant varieties make the best impression when viewed from above, says James.
Display them in a natural habitat. Line a decorative plate with gravel or river rocks and place a succulent on top.