Not the Greenest of Thumbs? Here’s How to Pick the Best Fake Plants

You want to add some greenery to your home but don't have much of a green thumb. If this sounds familiar, consider using fake plants.

It doesn’t matter if you lack the time, energy or know-how to care for plants, because fake plants can be a great alternative. Not only can fake plants bring life to a room and brighten dark corners, they’re great for those with pollen sensitivities. They require little care, won’t attract pests and never die on you. Perfect!

Find the Right Fake Plants

When shopping for fake plants, pay close attention to detail. Home Staging Warehouse notes artificial plants should have color and texture variations. Look for fake plants that mimic specific live plants, such as aloe, spider plants or banana trees. Skip the ones with obviously fake features — leaves with phony rain droplets or unnatural coloring. And since no plant is perfect, avoid those with perfect, identical leaves.

“Also, artificial plants that have a glossy finish may come across as a little bit tacky,” say the experts at Home Staging Warehouse. “Instead, choose plants with minute details such as delicate root sheaths at the bottom of the plant or even dirt around its base.”

Succulents are a great option. Not only are succulents trendy in modern home décor, but many real succulents look fake already, making it hard to tell the difference. One dedicated plant lover watered a succulent for two years before she realized it was fake!

Finally, know the difference between plastic and fabric plants. While both can work, plastic plants complement the look of modern homes. Fabric plants are more prone to wear and tear, and they attract and retain dust more than their plastic counterparts.

Help Fake Plants Look Natural

Barbara Pilcher, a home stager who runs the website DIY Home Staging Tips, says one secret to making fake plants more convincing is covering the dirt or potting soil surface with something natural. “My favorite is sheet moss, but I also like sphagnum moss,” she says. “Both really work to ground the plant and add a realistic touch. You can also use river rocks, sand or shells to cover the surface under a fake plant.”

Follow these tips for making your fake plants look natural:

  • Make sure your planter fits the character of your home. Try baskets, glass bowls, metal bins or a ceramic pot in a bold color or design.
  • Place your fake plant in a spot where a real plant could easily grow. If you stick a fake plant in a dark corner of your kitchen, it will be obvious the plant is fake.
  • Make sure you keep your fake plant clean. Dust and grime is a giveaway the plant isn’t real.

Cleaning Fake Plants

Good quality fake plants usually last longer than their real counterparts, and in turn they often cost more. So it pays to keep those pricey fake plants clean.

Commercial Silk, a maker of artificial plants and trees, offers these tips for keeping your fake plants (plastic or silk) looking their best.

  • Dust the plants once a week with a soft-bristle paint brush. Work from the top to the bottom and gently brush each leaf, petal and stem until they are clean. You can also use your hair dryer on a cool setting to blow the dust off your fake plants.
  • Use a damp cloth to remove stains or stubborn dirt. “Before using water on your plants, make sure that you check it for colorfastness,” say the Commercial Silk experts. “Wipe a small part of the leaf with the damp cloth and observe the spot for any fading.” Do not use a cleaning solution or harsh chemical, as this can make the color fade. Once you wipe the plant down with water, dry with a towel.
  • Don’t forget to clean the container or pot. Use a cloth or a vacuum cleaner hose.

According to Commercial Silk, “A little care and cleaning of artificial trees and leaves will go a long way in maintaining their aura and appeal. Just a few minutes every week will give you a polished artificial plant which in turn will keep your design scheme interesting and refined.”

Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.