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Choosing an artificial houseplant

Sarah Customer service manager 🌺
Design

Just like your human friends, there's more to consider than looks when it comes to shopping for your plant friends.

How do you choose an artificial houseplant? We've got all the answers in this guide, including everything to look out for when choosing the right artificial plant for your home, along with the pros and cons of choosing faux.

Artificial pilea bush in grey tiled bathroom

What to look out for when buying artificial houseplants

Artificial olive tree standing with green sofa by large window

1. Choose the right size

There's a bit of a Goldilocks trick to choosing the right size plant. Too small and your faux plant could look insignificant in your space, too large and it will swamp your room, just right and it will give off enough of an impact without overwhelming your space.

Make sure to carefully read the size details when you're shopping online and double-check the size of your space before buying. It sounds simple but it's one of the most common mistakes made.

In open spaces with tall ceilings, you'll want to go BIG with towering palm trees or even bigger with a giant faux plant. Whereas in small sitting rooms and bathrooms, choosing a smaller artificial plant will help to maximise space while still adding extra style points. Try faux desktop plants to add colour to tables and shelves.

Artificial Tuscan olive tree by Blooming Artificial in pink office

2. Check for quality materials

When deciding which artificial plant is right for your home, the materials are where your plant's realism can be make or break!

Artificial plants have come a long way over the years with new manufacturing techniques. That means no more hard, rigid plastic that you may have found in your grandma's house. From silk, wood, latex, polyethylene and more, quality artificial plants nowadays are made from a mix of materials using high-end robotics to create truly convincing replicas which look and feel real.

Our advice is to shy away from a plasticky sheen and choose plants which have gradients, texture and realistic colours. Check for seamless joins in stems and flowers of different shapes and sizes. The small details make all the difference and you can bet your visitors will be looking out for them!

Artificial lemon tree by Blooming Artificial in dark interior

3. Consider the location

Choosing a naturally sun-loving plant and sticking it in a dark room is a total giveaway. That's why, if you want to pull off your artificial plants, it's best to check where they would naturally thrive.

Instead of an aloe vera, opt for a snake plant, which would be happy in the shade. In sunny spaces, try an artificial cactus or a fruit tree instead of a dracaena fragrans, whose natural counterpart loves shade.

Artificial fruticosa tree by Blooming Artificial in pink bedroom

4. Check the pot

Most artificial plants are supplied in small black pots which you can then sit inside of your own, larger, pot. That said, there are a few out there that don't come supplied with a pot at all, which makes them tricky to re-plant. When shopping online, double-check that your plant comes supplied with a starter pot and check its measurements so you can find a suitable decorative pot.

Once your faux plant has arrived, it's best not to leave it in the starter pot as they're often much smaller than a natural plant would need. Instead, re-pot it into your decorative, which should be 5-10cm larger than the starter pot. Read our artificial plant potting article for guidance.

Advantages of artificial plants

Quality & realism

Artificial plants these days are made of a mixture of materials like polyethylene, polyester, latex and natural wood. The best plants come from factories that mix these materials, using robotics and high-end machinery, to make truly incredible replicas which look, and in some cases feel, like the real deal.

Environmental impact

An artificial plant has the initial environmental cost from the raw materials, manufacturing process and shipping from the Far East. However, once they’re here, it’s all about maximising the plants lifespan.

Indoor faux plants can last for as long as you want them – providing they are cared for in the right way. You can also pop them away and store them for a while or if you are looking to switch up your décor, re-use them by passing them to family or giving them to charity.

Natural plants are frequently imported from Europe and beyond, racking up plant miles in the process. Many of these plants are cultivated in peat-infused compost, in greenhouses which are energy intensive.

This is particularly an issue for short-term plants like novelty and seasonal plants like sprayed cacti, succulents, and poinsettia - which are consigned to the compost heap after the festive period.

It’s a similar story for particularly tricky plants like calathea and finicky potted trees, like bays. If you're unsuccessful in keeping the natural version alive, you may have to replace them time and time again, which comes at an environmental cost.

What about flowers?

A premium bunch of flowers can cost anywhere from £10 in a supermarket to £50 at an online florist. These flowers are grown across the world and flown in for maximum freshness with a lifespan of 10-20 days at best.

A top faux flower arrangement starts at around £80 and will last as long as you want it to. It can also be put away in a cupboard and brought out again when the time is right – or reused by someone else.

Air purification

It’s a common claim that real plants clean the air. This claim is based on a NASA study in the 1980’s, however a more recent study casts some doubt on the overall impact. The original study in lab conditions perhaps over-exaggerated the impact of plants in a regular home or office space.

Reduced stress, anxiety & improved concentration

Numerous scientific studies have found plants to have varying benefits from reducing stress, improving attention and productivity, and reducing anxiety (among other things). Around the workplace, other studies have shown green friends to have a positive impact on productivity and job satisfaction.

Many of the studies are focused on improving the appearance and perception of interiors by breaking up décor with greenery. Artificial plants may not stack up fully to natural plants in this aspect, but when balanced with other needs, may still be the right choice for you.

It doesn't take a scientific study to know that surrounding yourself with faux orchids can help to create a more relaxing and positive environment.

Maintenance

Where artificial plants consistently come out on top. They’re super-easy to look after regardless of your time, plant knowledge, or environment.

Keeping faux plants clean is quick and easy to do. Here's a full blog post with several do’s and a couple of don’ts. 

Put them away

If you’re short on space or you want to switch your décor (around Christmas for example), you can store faux plants in a cupboard or the loft. You can get them out again when you’re ready and they’ll look just like they did before. Most real plants won’t enjoy that sort of treatment!

Artificial fern bush on white mantelpiece

Disadvantages of artificial plants

Upfront cost

The trade-off for choosing artificial plants is that there tends to be a higher upfront cost vs real plants.

The silver lining to this is that the upfront cost, along with a pot, is the only cost, whereas natural plants need re-potting every few years, feeding, pest control and potentially replacing if all goes wrong!

Initial environmental cost

The only other disadvantage is the cost of production and shipping from other countries.

On the plus side, the lifespan of faux plants is far longer than real plants, which are often also shipped in from other corners of the globe.

When you're finished with your artificial plants, you can pass them along to a friend or donate them to charity.

So... how to choose

Weigh up your situation, where you want your faux plant to live and the size of your space. Then, consider the quality and materials of the artificial plants available. If you're still weighing up the pros and cons, we have a full guide on artificial plants vs real plants.

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