True Plants vs. Faux? This is a game of spot the real plant.

December 29, 2018 1 Comment

True Plants vs. Faux? This is a game of spot the real plant.

I remember reading a list once about the top 25 cardinal sins of interior design homeowners make, and situated somewhere near the top was fake plants. Fast forward to the present, when designers and tastemakers are advocating for "simple flora" or "artificial plants" with increasing frequency. Is it true? Have fake plants turned the corner from faux pas to fashionable?

It's an appealing prospect for those of us who seemingly lack the innate ability to keep real plants alive. Sure, we tell ourselves it's because the rooms in our house are too dark (not always truth), or that we simply can't afford that gorgeous fiddle leaf fig tree that dominates picture-perfect IG vignettes. Technology has come a long, long way from the super-fake-looking silk plants our grandmas had, well, everywhere. Advancements mean that fake plants boast amazingly realistic texture, color and, depending on the quality of the fake plant, even reflective properties. This is particularly true of plastic plants, which can be created using molds of real plants. Some are even filled with foam for an ultra-realistic textile quality.

A major benefit to plastic plants, though, is that many of the trendy house plants in modern home décor kind of look plastic to begin with. Succulents are a fantastic example — the real ones already look fake, so the fake ones automatically look real. And, honestly, who doesn't love the look of succulents? So let's dig in.

About Real Air Plants: On paper, air plants sound like a dream for low-maintenance types. But if you've ever owned an air plant, you know they don't quite live up to the hype of being indestructible. Most air plants sold in shops are members of the Tillandsia genus. They are epiphytes that cling to the crooks and branches of trees in Central and South America, the West Indies, and southern United States. There are varieties adapted to grow in rainforests, mountains, deserts and swamps, but what they all have in common is that they grow without rooting in soil. The ASPCA doesn't have an entry about air plants, but other sources indicate that they're likely non-toxic to pets.

Air Plant Care: Air plants need bright, indirect light in order to thrive long-term. Water your air plant every two weeks. Early in the day, submerge and soak the plant in tap water for 20-30 minutes, then remove it, gently shake it off, and put it upside down on a towel in a bright location. It is important that it is able to fully dry out in less than 4 hours.

Game Answer: (Left is faux, right photograph is of living air plants).

About Staghorn Ferns: Staghorn ferns (Platycerium spp.) have an out-of-this world appearance. They get their name because their fronds look like the antlers of a staghorn deer. The plant bears two types of fronds: The sterile fronds are flat, round, and located at the base of the fern, and the fertile fronds are irregular, lobed, and usually ascending from the plant.

Care for Staghorn Ferns: Growing staghorn ferns is easy. If they get low to medium light and moderate moisture, they will thrive. In fact, whether grown indoors or outside, provide moderate moisture and a humus rich medium when growing staghorn ferns. Outdoor plants should be located in partial shade or low light conditions for the best growth, while indoor plants need bright indirect light. Good staghorn fern care requires frequent watering but allow the plant medium to dry out thoroughly in between. 

Game Answer: (Trick answer; Both left and right photographs is of staghorn fern plants are faux).

About Echeveria: It is fitting that one of the most brilliantly colored and strikingly beautiful kinds of succulents, those in the genus Echeveria, are named for an artist. Atanasio Echeverria y Godoy was an intrepid 18th-century botanical artist who spent 17 years recording thousands of specimens while on expeditions in his home country Mexico, as well as in northern Central America and California. 

Echeveria Care: While they like bright light, echeverias should not be planted where they will be subject to unrelenting hot summer sun, which can burn and permanently scar their leaves. Water the plants thoroughly and allow them to completely dry out before you water again. As with all succulents, use free-draining soil and never, never allow your plants to sit in soggy dirt. Echeverias are generally quite easy to grow and problem free.

Game Answer: (Left photograph is of living succulent plant and right is faux). 

Faux varieties of all of the above and many more gorgeous specimens are for sale at our Ben's Garden retail store in SoHo, New York. You can simply ring 646-850-3950 for assistance or email soho@bensgarden.com. We're happy to be of assistance.



1 Response

Ellen Tatcher
Ellen Tatcher

December 29, 2018

Great article. I had no idea how really nice, plastic plants can look. Also, learning about the are involved with maintaining the real plants does help put things into perspective. Very helpful. Keep this up!

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