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What are the Different Types of Artificial Plants?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
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For the nature lovers among us, the thought of artificial plants might cause an instant reaction. After all, the draw of plants is that in all of their intricate beauty, they are living things. However, the care of plants can make people think twice, particularly after investing time and effort only to have the plants wither and die. Fresh flowers are even more short-lived, yet having plants and flower arrangements in the house adds something that no other decoration can match. Except perhaps, artificial plants.

Synthetic plants have come a long way since the thick, plastic plants of yesteryear. Cheap plastic plants are probably single handedly responsible for ruining the reputation of artificial plants, being obvious imposters offering neither beauty nor grace. However, a beautiful synthetic plant can look better than the real thing because it never develops a furrowed leaf, bare branch, or spent bud. When time and care given to real plants is a concern, quality artificial plants can indeed be a small investment that pays off with every glance, week after week, month after month.

Artificial plants can be made of plastic or silk, usually combined other organic products. The latter category is generally considered to have the best life-like quality and a higher price tag to match. Nevertheless, a good quality plastic plant can appear quite real, particularly from a distance, and might suit your purposes in a particular application.

Plants that will not be inspected up close do not need the fine details available in more expensive artificial plants. Let’s say you’d like rambling ivy placed atop kitchen cabinets and the room has a 12-foot (3.6 meter) ceiling. Decent plastic ivy might only be lacking vein detail in the leaves, which would not be visible from its placement anyway. If the ivy looks life-like from the distance you’ll be viewing it, why pay more?

It’s better to invest what you save into plants that will be placed at eye level or on tables and low shelves. These plants will undergo closer scrutiny and should feature the fine details of a real plant. This includes veins in the leaves, texturized or multi-colored stems and other small details that give the plant character and life. Quality artificial plants should also feel like the real thing, giving silk plants another advantage over plastic.

Flower bouquets or arrangements made of silk are sometimes difficult to tell from the real thing even knowing they are fake. From the subtle undercurl of flowering petals to delicate interspersed ferns and sprays, quality silk arrangements can fool even the sharpest and most discriminating eye. The only thing missing is the scent, though some artificial flowers are made with a built in wick and oils to add fragrance to the air. If the arrangements you choose are not scented, consider scenting them yourself with essential oils. Don’t feel restricted to the natural scent of the real flowers; any appealing scent can be refreshing as you pass.

The larger the synthetic plant, the more quality matters if you don’t want it to be spotted as an impostor. For this reason, life-like fake trees have the highest price tags of all, but you can often find good sales. Your choices are nearly limitless, from indoor ficus trees to palms for the patio.

Artificial plants have gained a new level of popularity judging by the sheer variety and improved likeness to real plants. At a time when people are busier than ever, artificial plants make sense. They are the no fuss, no muss answer to complimenting or replacing real plants in the house, yard or office. Choose the right plant or arrangement for the right purpose and you’ll probably end up thanking yourself every time you admire it.

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Discussion Comments

By Feryll — On Jan 09, 2015

My niece loves flowers, but she has so many different types of allergies that finding a house plant she can live with is virtually impossible. My girlfriend told me to find a really nice artificial flower with pretty colors and give it to her for her room at home. I definitely prefer live flowers, but artificial plants can be a good alternative in cases like this one.

By mobilian33 — On Jan 08, 2015

The first sentence of this article must have been written with me in mind. A flowering plant is a living thing. If it's artificial then I don't want any part of it. I guess I am one of those people who still can't get the picture of those cheap old plastic flowers out of my head when anyone says artificial flowers.

My grandmother had a tall green artificial plant in her house. Someone gave it to her when she was in the hospital once. She hated the thing, but she didn't want to throw it away in case the person who gave it to her came by and asked about it. After all, she couldn't say it had died.

By Animandel — On Jan 07, 2015

On my last visit to my general practitioner's office, I couldn't help but notice the beautiful green plants that were placed throughout the reception area and the waiting room. After my visit with the doctor I was at the reception desk talking with one of the office workers. I asked her how they kept all of the plants so green and healthy.

To my surprise, she said we dust them often. Simply looking at the plants, I would have never been able to tell that they were not live plants. I have a problem keeping flowers and green plants alive, so artificial flowers and plants may be the best option for me.

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