Episode #32: (MINI) All Things Faux Plants

In this week’s mini, we chat about faux plants!

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

Show notes: 
-We start off with a case for real plants—we LOVE real plants. However, there is a time and a place for faux and this episode is all about that!

-Elsie’s faux plant rule is that if I kill a plant two times (so, two plants) in a certain area or corner of my home, then I will replace it with a faux plant. There are sometimes just areas in the home where plants don’t thrive.

Here are my favorite faux plants and dried flowers.

Emma’s faux plant “art.”

What to avoid:
-bad cacti with rubber “claws” for spines. (here’s an example of a really bad one!)
-putting fake plants outdoors because they fade FAST and that is very sad.

This is our exterior! Imagine it all white, because pretty soon it will be! Now, what do you think we should put into that built-in flower box across the front??

Where to buy fake plants: West Elm, Target, Home Goods, Amazon and the craft stores, like JOANN. Also, thrift shops/garage sales.

Here’s a link to the dried flower press.

If you have any questions about plants (or anything!), you can send them to us here: Podcast AT A Beautiful Mess DOT com
Love you! Elsie + Emma

Miss an episode? Get caught up!

Episode 32 Transcript

Emma: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast. Elsie suggested that we do a mini episode about plants and I immediately texted her back and I said. “I like my plants, like I like my eyelashes…Fake.” (laughs) So we’re doing today’s mini episode talking all about the best fake plants, when to choose them and where to buy them.

Elsie: Ok, so let’s start off by saying a case for real plants. If you can choose real versus fake and you…and they’re both equally going to work for your lifestyle, pick real. Because for sure it’s better for the environment, it’s better for your home. It’s a hobby like it’s a living thing that will bring you joy, hopefully in your life. I don’t think that all plants should be fake. We don’t think that. But as you’ll hear throughout this mini episode, there’s definitely times when I think that the most practical choice is a fake plant. And I think that if you buy them consciously and you buy them for certain spots, then they do last for, you know, forever. And I think that they can be really useful. So…

Emma: Yeah, I totally agree.

Elsie: But I love real plants. There will never be a replacement for real plants in the home. I like to have at least 50/50 if I can. And that’s been over the last few years with little kids. It got more like 50/50. I mean, I’d like for it to be even more like 25 percent or 10 percent fake, you know. But there’s always gonna be a few fake plans in my house for sure.

Emma: Yeah. In my house over the last like four or five years that we’ve lived here has slowly become almost all fake plants. It’s kind of sad. Our house is really beautiful. I love it. But it’s built into a hill and it’s just a lot darker than you might think. So there’s just not a lot of areas where plants stay alive because I literally work from home. All the time. So like, I can water plants and stay on top of plants, but they just don’t get enough sunlight. I don’t know what the deal is. But…

Elsie: Yeah. Emma’s home is pretty dark.

Emma: I have like all my really good ones. I’ve given them away to friends whenever I can tell when I’m like, this one’s on its way out. I’ve tried what I can try. I’ve moved it to different spots or whatever.

Elsie: Do you still have the really, really big one?

Emma: No. I gave it to a friend because he was starting to die and I was like, I don’t know what else I can do with this guy. And he’s beautiful and he’s so big. So I’d got him from a friend who is moving and she couldn’t take it. So I didn’t want him to die. I felt like I was his foster mom. So I was like, it was this giant split leaf. Anyway, he lives at my friend Michelle’s house now and he’s thriving. She has a lot more sun in her house.

Elsie: Aw that’s good. Okay, well, let me tell you what my fake plant rules are because I used to be pretty against them. And also fake plants used to be way uglier. Like within the last five years, the I don’t know what you call, the fake plant industry has really taken off. (laughs) There’s just a lot more and better options now. So my personal rule is that I would prefer to have real plans, but if I kill a plant in my home in the same spot two different times, I will replace it with a fake one. And then there are also a couple different types of plants that I just don’t buy anymore. I just buy the fake ones because I’ve killed them so many times, but I still love them. So do you want to know what kinds they are?

Emma: Yeah, I have a feeling it’s fiddle…

Elsie: Yeah, the fiddle for sure, and I’ll also say, so I’ve never kept a fiddle alive and I know so many people do and they’re so proud of them. But for some reason it just wasn’t the plant for me. And I’ve tried a lot of times and they’re very expensive. So I’ve found that the fake ones from Wayfair or Pottery Barn, which we’ll link in the show notes — all of our favorite fake plants…this is going to be a good show notes episode today. Abeautifulmess.com backsplash — backslash (laughs).

Emma: Backsplash…

Elsie: Backslash podcast. Anyway, the fiddle for sure. There’s big, gorgeous fake ones that, you know, last forever and never die. And you don’t have to have a dramatic relationship with them. And then the other one is the mother of Pearl hanging plant. Which is kind of like a hanging succulent that looks like it has little pearls, like little green pearls down it. I love that plant, but I’ve had it before. I think it’s meant to be an outdoor plant in a warm climate because I’ve had it a lot of times and they never live inside of my home, but they make really convincing fake ones. So I will link some of those as well. Those are the two that I will just go straight to fake. Do you have any that you are kind of your go to?

Emma: I have a few like good fake cacti at my house. I think I got them from World Market. Both of them. And they’re like the ones that look more convincing, like the spikes are more convincing. But then I also I will do this thing with fake plants where I’ll make like panels out of it or more like an art installment. So I have that above a piano in my living room. I can link that in the show notes.

Elsie: Oh yes. Yes. Yeah we’ll like all of those that you’ve done and your living wall.

Emma: Yeah my living wall. So Yeah. That’s kind of a way to like use fake plants in a not convinced. Like I think you you know, it’s not real. I mean maybe someone wouldn’t. But if I saw them I would know they were fake plants. But they look pretty good. But they’re displayed in a way where, you know, like they’re not in a pot and they’re just like, you know what I mean? So it’s it’s just like a different way of doing fake plants. So I have a little bit of that in my house from time to time. So I just think it’s fun to use fake plants is kind of an art installment. It sounds kind of pretentious, but that’s. I don’t know. I don’t know another way to describe it.

Elsie: No that’s definitely one of your things. She loves it.

Emma: I find that fun. I just think it’s very whimsical.

Elsie: Mm hmm. Well, when I was unpacking, I found lots and lots of fake plants. And I will say it is kind of nice to just be able to unpack and just have like a bunch of plants straight away and like move them. So I’ve been kind of moving them around a couple fiddle trees, a couple of fake cacti and then actually a really great — I don’t remember the technical name, but like the one that people call mother in law’s tongue — the like spiky big one. That one can be a really good fake plant. So, yeah. Let’s talk about the good and the bad.

Emma: Okay.

Elsie: So I’ve already said my two go-tos and I also think ferns can be so beautiful. Target has had some pretty good looking fake plants over the last couple of years and I’ve gotten a couple from there that were like fluffy ferns that looked really real. For some reason, Target has had some of the worst looking fake cactuses that I’ve seen in my life.

Emma: Like cartoony like. It’s like uhhh…

Elsie: Right.

Emma: Cactus is definitely one of the plants that I think can go terribly wrong, especially if they have the big rubber spikes where it just looks like claws of rubber coming out of your plant. They can look very fake. So I think that for those it’s important to either have seen it in real life if you can or have like a lot of pictures to reference. Like if a blogger, you know, has one or if you can see pictures in the reviews, but sometimes just one picture on a shopping website doesn’t do it.

Emma: Yeah. Any plant that can have like kind of a seam, that is a real giveaway, obviously. So like more leafy plants tend to do better. And I think when you see a leafy plant where the leaf very clearly has like two sides, like it has like a darker side or like it just that to be looks a lot more real. Whenever the leaf is done right. And it’s not just like they only thought about one side of the leaf, it’s like, oh, well, what about the other side? Because sometimes it’s going to show.

Elsie: I completely agree. Do you remember how it was called like silk plants or silk flowers were when we were younger. It was considered such a grandma thing to have fake plants ever in your house ever. And I feel like that’s really turned around for sure. But it’s because they look real now, like a lot of people can’t tell the difference. Like one time one of my photographers took a close up picture of the mother of Pearl Plant in my kitchen for one of the magazine photo shoots we did. And I was like, oh, no, no, that’s a fake plant! No close ups of that one, you know? But like, that’s good that she was standing right by it in front of it and couldn’t tell it was fake. So…

Emma: Yeah, that’s very cool. Yeah, I think too like flowers. That’s like, most flowers like carnations, roses…that’s a tough one. It I think they’re very Grandma-y. But I think the more…if you want a fake flower in your house, which I’d rather just have fake plants like succulents and fiddles and things like that. But you know, if you want one, I think the tropical kind of like bird of paradise type flowers are more convincing looking rather than like a rose or a carnation or something like that.

Elsie: No, I agree. I’ve seen some good like peonies and the ones that kind of have like the water in the vase that are a little bit better, but for some reason I just don’t feel like I need to buy fake flowers. I’m just like, I’ll have them or I won’t have them, but I don’t want to buy fake ones.

Elsie: The other thing that I think looks really bad is fake plants outdoors. And maybe there’s a place I know that in like warmer climates, like in California, a lot of people have the fake grass that looks really good and it looks actually really comfy and nice. So maybe there’s something in that category for people like that, that’s fake plants. But for me, anytime I put a fake plant outside besides, I will say like sometimes at Christmas time I’ll put like Christmas flowers in our flower box outside or like things like that. You know, but it’s very temporary. Like we had that little. Right. You know, that little address box. Like it was kind of like an address sign on our house that had a little flower box on it. And we would put like seasonal stuff in it. But it wasn’t staying out there for very long.

Emma: That’s like a wreath.

Elsie: Right.

Emma: You know, it’s not going to be there all the time. So.

Elsie: But when I put the succulents in it, like I put just some succulents from the craft store, they got really faded really fast. And it made me sad because I was like, these are just trash now and it’s plastic. So maybe just don’t put fake plants outside if it’s going to sit in the sun for months at a time because they’re just not going to last. And there’s probably an alternative of something that’s real or something that wouldn’t, you know, fade. Yes. It just looks so sad at the moment. We have in the front of our house, I can show a picture in the show notes or link to it to the before pictures. But there’s a huge built in flower bed that goes all the way across half of our house, which is so cute. It’s one of the retro historic features that I think are really special that I want to keep, but it’s completely filled with hot pink fake flowers. And I’ve just been leaving it like that for a few months because I was like, well, I’ll replace all that when we do the house. When the house is painted.

Emma: Mm hmm.

Elsie: I figured that would be a good time. But some people think they look real. It’s so crazy. Like two people so far have told me that they thought they were real. And I just can’t even believe it. Like in the dead of winter, there’s hot pink flowers.

Emma: Do you think they’re just being nice like they were just…you know.

Elsie: I think they were being serious. Well, I don’t know, but yeah. I don’t like those because they’re also super, super faded. So I’m probably going to put something real there that can withstand the winter. But we’ll see. I might do something that switches like I was thinking, like mini little Christmas tree bushes. I don’t know. Like for that time of year. I don’t know. Ok. Actually, I’m going to put this in the show notes. And if you’re listening and you are an opinionated person, come on our blog and leave us leave me a comment of what you think I should put in this flower box, because it’s such a big deal to me and I can’t decide.

Emma: It’s a pretty big flower box.

Elsie: Yeah, it’s exciting. It’s one of the really cute things about the house that makes it feel 60s. OK. So let’s talk about where to purchase fake plants. So I said before that I like to see them in person if I can. I feel like you just get a better, a better feel for whether or not they look real in person.

Emma: It’s true.

Elsie: And the scale, the size, like if you’ve ever bought a fake plant like a tree and you thought it was going to be like so big and fill the room and then you get it and it’s like half the size of what you thought it was gonna be, you know.

Emma: Yeah. And you’re like, uh oh.

Elsie: It’s just I don’t know in person is nice, but I know we’re recording this during quarantine times and literally all these stores are closed that I’m about to mention. So this is for the future. But the places where I typically shop for our faux plants are the craft stores. So all the craft stores sell them and most of them have good ones, most of them change throughout the year. HomeGoods, which is super random, but some of the ones I’ve had came from there. Yeah. Our first super big fiddle came from there. And finding those like the super big fiddles that are like six or seven feet tall that are under $200 is actually really hard to do so. And then Target is like I said before, it’s hit or miss. They definitely have some cheesy looking stuff, but they have some beautiful stuff that looks super real, too. And it changes constantly like Target’s so crazy with all their home stuff. Like, I feel like it’s basically a home goods store now.

Emma: I mean, it has a lot of it. That’s for sure.

Elsie: And then West Elm. West Elm has great sales and they have the best mother of Pearl Plant. I’ve bought it over and over and over and over and over and over. So yeah.

Emma: And I mentioned previously World Market. They’ve had some good ones.

Elsie: Yes.

Emma: And a couple of the big fiddle plants that we have at Elsie is Holiday House have been from Amazon and they’re actually quite nice. And then I also want to throw this out there again for after quarantine time’s over when we’re all shopping in person again someday. But I’ve actually found some really good fake plants at thrift stores before. And garage sales. And since a lot of fake plants are made of plastics, I do think it’s awesome to try to find things that are used, if you can, especially if you are going to be doing like an installment. Like I was talking about with my frames. So if you’re needing like loose leaves or things like that, it you could find a lot of that stuff at thrift stores. You may have to clean it. It might be dusty because it came from a grandma house. But at least you won’t be buying more plastics. You can reuse something and it’s gonna be a great price. So win. Win.

Elsie: Yes, definitely. I’m glad they sell stuff like that.

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: Before we go, I wanted to talk about if there’s anything else that we love. That’s not necessarily a fake plant, but it’s not necessarily a living plant. So fake flowers, like we said before. I think every once in a while like I’ve used them a lot in crafts to do like a wreath or something like that. But I don’t necessarily have like a face of them on my dining room table.

Emma: Right.

Elsie: But I’m obsessed, completely obsessed with the dried flower trend and dried plants. And I’m going to do a couple of DIYs this fall. I’ve already been planning some fall wreaths and stuff, so I’m so excited about it. And yeah, if you don’t know what I’m talking about I’m just gonna put a couple of pictures in the show notes. But people have been doing such creative things with them, spray painting them, dyeing them, just really dreamy stuff.

Emma: I know what you’re talking about and I’m excited to see the ones you make. But yeah.

Elsie: I just. I love like the fluffy dried flowers and the, I just got an amazing palm plant from my back porch. And I’m like, should I just cut off one leaf and dry it out? Because it’s gonna be so beautiful as a dried plant, you know? So, yeah.

Emma: That can be a fun little hobby, too. Like if you’ve ever been on walks or if you’re out running and you pick plants and you like press them, which you can get like a plant to press to like dry out and flatten things. You can also just do it in a book like a very heavy book. It can discolor your pages. So don’t pick like your favorite book or, you know, holy text. (laughs)

Elsie: You can use parchment paper in there…

Emma: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But like a heavy, heavy cookbook, something like that. Like those those work just as great. You don’t have to buy anything.

Elsie: Okay. I’m going to do that with Nova because she’s been picking flowers every day and I don’t really know what to do with them because she picks she picks them with no stem basically where it’s just the flower.

Emma: Yeah. Yeah. You should dry some out. Yeah. You could make really fun little. I mean you could just use them on cards like just mod podge them onto a card for grandmas. But you can also like display them in like glass frames and it’s really fun. It’s a fun little thing to do in the spring and summer.

Elsie: Okay so we are definitely going to do a live plant episode sometime soon. So send us if you have any questions about live plans and if you have any questions. Generally, we love getting questions. You can send them to podcast@abeautifulmess.com Thank you so much for listening. If you have a chance, we would love it if you would share our podcast whether with a friend or on social media, we don’t care as long as you share it with someone. That would mean a lot to us. And don’t forget to subscribe so that every week it will just pop up in your podcast listening app. Have a good week!

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  • I had to come on here just to tell you that when my grandmothers cheapy outdoor flowers faded she would SPRAY PAINT them to make them look “good”” again. Hahahaha.

  • For your flower bed, I know a lady who puts out a row of ferns every year in front of her house and they always look so gorgeous! I think with the style of your house ferns would give the perfect vibe. She would also just leave them in their pots, and then every winter bring them inside so she didn’t have to buy new plants every year. Just a thought! Can’t wait to see what you decide to do!

  • You could also put the flower heads Nova picks into a glass bowl with water in it so they float – a cute alternative to a vase of flowers!

  • For years I’ve mixed fake flowers with real foliage, these are mainly for flowers in a vase. Either you put your fake flower and the foliage In water as normal – but you will need to change the water regularly otherwise the fake flower stems go moldy, or you put a smaller jar inside the base and fill it with water for the real plants. Most people just assume the flowers are real.

    • Hi! I like the idea of tiny evergreens or boxwoods in front of the window and taller grasses on the right hand side. Then you could switch things up seasonally by adding different annuals and accents (i.e pumpkins and mums in the fall, plant long flowering annuals in the spring, or whatever your heart desires!) If you get tired of switching things up that often then you can gradually add more perennials as you learn what things grow well in that area. I can’t tell how much sun that area gets, but if it’s shady from the roof overhang hostas and coral bells spilling over would also be really beautiful. What a fun little planter box!! Love the podcast! XO Michelle

  • I really loved this episode. Can anyone recommend good places to get realistic fake plants in Europe?

  • I think classic white and yellow daisies would be such a cute homage to the era of the house. And look perfect with a white facade and potentially pink door 😉

  • What are your recommendations for cleaning fake plants? Any favorite products? How often? Etc.
    thanks!! Loved the podcast this week… as always. 🙂

  • Hi Elsie! I think for the flower box, some ornamental short grass could look cool and survive most of winter. There are some fun burgundy, yellow, and deep red types. I think adding some pointy vertical flowers will help keep the modern look in the box like Catmint or Salvia (sun loving) or Astilbe (shade loving) depending on how much sun this area gets. 🙂 I think short flowers with texture and structure will look the most MCM.

  • For your flower box, I’d either go extreme green jungle plants – banana leaf, really fluffy ferns, that type of thing which would look really nice all year around OR you could go with a really beautiful wild flower meadow – so something that looks a little (romantically) unkept. You could add some lovely scented plants in there too like lavender, rosemary, chamomile and then softer wild flowers like Fox Gloves, Marigolds (!), Poppy’s, Bell Flowers etc (I think you can get wild flower seed mixes) OR some lovely huge white hydrangea bushes!

  • Greenery hanging over the side of the window boxes would be lovely. Depending on the amount of light, ferns would be good fillers. Or hostas if the boxes are in the shade. Can’t wait to see the house painted!!

  • I think creeping phlox would look neat, especially if you could get it to kind of spill over the edges a little. I love your podcast! Xoxo

  • I love this! I have cats so it’s hard to have real plants indoors. Either they’re poisonous or my cats dig in the dirt! I have to keep my real plants outside.

  • For your flower box, I’d be tempted to plant bulb flowers – tulips, alliums, daffodils, ranunculus, etc. Maybe interspersed with some coleus or something with some volume to keep it from looking too sparse when the blooms fade. I love all the colors coleus comes in and it’s pretty easy to grow. But you can’t really go wrong with any real plant! Lol!

    As a desert dweller myself, I’m looking to put a patch of faux turf in my backyard soon. I need something softer than gravel for my toddler to play on!

  • For the built in flower box I’d personally skip the granny flowers and go for a lush green plant that hangs a little over the edges. 🙂
    We’ve bought a mother of pearl plant but it is indeed a difficult plant to maintain…

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