How to care for your artificial plants
  • By Annabel
  • In Guides
  • Posted Sep 05 2016
Today’s artificial plants are absolutely stunning and, as a result, they are growing in popularity. Unlike many potted plants and cut flowers, faux flowers and foliage are investments that you know will still be with you in many years to come. So whether you’ve purchased a stunning orchid, a beautiful potted geranium or a sculptural box tree, there are a few things you need to keep them looking amazing.

If you’re now thinking, ‘Hang on a minute! I thought the whole point of fake plants was that they don’t need looking after?’ then don’t panic. We’re not talking hours of hard work; we’re talking a few minutes TLC a month.

The brilliance of this simple care is that it will keep your plants looking their best, not to mention realistic and natural. You’ll keep fooling neighbours, friends and family that you are incredibly green fingered. Luckily, if you do forget to follow any of these regular care steps, it won’t matter. Your plants are resilient and durable, and will wait patiently for your attention.

When they arrive

On first opening the carefully packaged box, your first impression may be that ‘it doesn’t look like the picture’. Your plant may be a bit squished or flattened on one side because that’s how it’s packaged and delivered. Your first job is to take a few minutes to ‘dress’ your plant, that is, help it look perfect.

Many artificial plants have wired branches and leaves, so be creative and bend them until they look natural. A brilliant tip is to look up a photo of a real plant of that species so you know what to aim for – the RHS website is a total winner for this. It will also give you advice on the conditions the real plant would welcome, such as full sun or shade – it seems silly to care about that for a faux plant, but it can be the difference between it looking at home or out of place in its location.

Similarly, when you are choosing the perfect spot to place them, you may want to avoid the area around or above the hob in the kitchen. Aside from a potential fire risk, you will find that grease will quickly accumulate on leaves.

Plants and flowers in the home and the bath!

Nothing screams fake plant like a layer of dust! A soft paintbrush is perfect for a quick brush over of your plant once a month or so. Start at the top of the plant, and work your way down, taking it outside if possible. If there are any hard to budge areas, or other grime to remove, then a damp kitchen towel can be used, but avoid normal water on silk plants (you can instead purchase a silk plant cleaning solution). For a speedy option, you can even use a hairdryer on a heat free setting to blow dust away.

For more built-on grease and grime, artificial foliage can be washed – this ‘Thrifty Fun’ blog provides a useful guide to plant bath time, although don’t worry, you won’t have to do this very often, if at all.

Looking after outside plants

UV from sunlight is the biggest threat to artificial plants, and fading will make them look tired before their time. It pays to ensure you select plants especially for outdoor use, and check that foliage is UV resistant. Because the flowers are usually made from silk, they will fade over a few years. You can make any fading far less noticeable if you turn the flowers regularly and avoid being in full and direct sunlight for too long. However, if you do want to plant in a south facing area, it is advisable to use pastel colours, whites and creams, because any fading will be much less noticeable than in darker colours such as red and purple.

Storage guidance

Many aficionados of the artificial flower like to think seasonally for their planting schemes. That means incongruously flowering lavender is never left in place in January (try cyclamen instead) and the geraniums are reserved for the warmer months. This seasonal flower guide is really helpful for getting it right.

If you want to try a seasonal approach, you’ll need to change your displays a couple of times a year. Storing the plants and flowers carefully will mean they remain in perfect condition for next year. It’s easy for them to get crushed and it will make it much harder to get them looking good again next time. Other than creases, the main concerns are mould and mice.

To avoid mould or mildew, you need to ensure the plants are perfectly dry (especially for outdoor plants or after cleaning) and any soil is removed from the base.

Finally, wrap them carefully in tissue paper and place in loose plastic bags, then store in sealed boxes or lidded plastic crates. The original boxes would come in handy here. Choose a cool dry area and make sure it is vermin free – it is sensible to check lofts and garages regularly for signs of unwanted creatures.

Your artificial flowers and foliage will now look fresh and fantastic, and with just a little effort, they will stay that way for many years, rewarding you daily with their beauty. If only everything in life was that simple!

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