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How to Make Fake Plants & Trees Look Real

Here’s how to make fake plants look real in a few easy steps.

1. Add Shine

Real plants need water to live; whether they get this through the daily hosing, the occasional rainfall or morning dew, the one common denominator is that they are always moist. (And if they’re not, they at least look dewy, since plants are 90% water.) From the inside out, real plants are radiant with H20 – so if you’re looking to make your faux babies a little less faux, start with some dewy shine. Faux plant cleaners are available for purchase in many places and come in bottles that add a slight sheen when sprayed onto artificial leaves. (If you don’t want to buy a new product, reach for the hairspray; a once-over with hairspray mist will get the same job done!)

2. Mix in Real Plants

There’s a reason why whole industries are devoted to visual sciences; with focus on how things are arranged, the eyes can be an easy thing to deceive. When it comes to plants, group fake and real ones together to blur the lines between what’s real – and what’s not.

3. Bring Them Outside

Here’s another thing about real plants: they come from the outdoors! Where sunlight, blue skies and surrounding nature are, faux plants will thrive and look more real than ever before. Research weather-safe materials before transplanting (if necessary, you can always bring them out only occasionally, like when entertaining outdoors). One thing you can expect when bringing your faux plants out? The occasional insect or two crawling about their leaves – the best kind of side effect, if you’re aiming for a more genuine aesthetic!

4. Store Them In Planters

Many fake plants come in factory containers; these are black and plastic and aren’t designed to fit into home décor. Before you place your plants, remove or hide the base. Place it in a planter designed for real plants; since the plants are fake, they don’t need to be placed in such, but doing so will make it seem like they do! For smaller varieties try tabletop vases, planter boxes or pots. The more durable materials (like ceramic and concrete) you choose, the more important (and real) the plants will seem.

5. Keep Them Clean

Sure, real plants get dirty with soil and bugs, but they also grow, which means their composition and looks change over time; winds and sun, for outdoor plants, also keeps them clean. (Also, regular watering helps to clean off dirt.) Fake plants get dirty too, mainly with household dust, but unlike real plants, they don’t change and grow, they don’t get sun and wind and they don’t get bathed with water, all of which helps keep real plants new-and-shiny. Make sure you’re devoting a few minutes a week to dusting your fake plants – just a quick swipe will do.

6. Add Soil

If you really want to play the trickster, keep your fake plants in real soil. There’s nothing like fresh black soil in a planter to make anyone assume the plant which stands upon it is real! Keep the soil slightly moist, and if you really want to have some fun, sprinkle a pinch of soil or two on top of the fake plant’s leaves. The only caveat to real soil is that it needs to be changed regularly. If household contaminants enter into it and mix with the water, this can spell out bacteria growth and a dry, faded look – which in turn will negate your efforts and actually make the plant look more fake.

7. Add Light Mist

Step one was all about adding faux shine, but for the serious plant artist, you’ll want to add actual mist, the way actual plants have. Skip the pre-packaged shine and hairspray, and fill up an empty spray bottle with water. Keep it beside your plant, and every once in a while lightly mist it. (This method also keeps your space free of chemicals or unnatural ingredients.) Whether for fake plants or real plants, water is a miracle worker! The main thing to note here is that for the sake of creating a real look, it’s more important for individual water beads or large droplets to tack onto leaves than it is for the entire plant to look uniformly wet. An easy way to accomplish this is by rubbing a miniscule amount of coconut oil onto a leaf or two, and then spraying the water lightly. (Since water doesn’t mix with oil, it will bead rather than soak.)

8. Store Them In Clear Containers

If you’re using soil, opt for clear planters to show it off. (While opaque designs are stylish, they also prove you have something to hide!)

9. Accessorize Around Them

Light accessories and decorative home accents around your plants can contribute to a pulled-together aesthetic and make your faux greens feel as worthy of showing off as real plants. (It’s also, simply, pretty.) Curate an aesthetic corner by placing the planter on a console table or hallway table, styling sculptures, figurines, candle holders, a table lamp or lanterns or decorative boxes next to the plant, hanging wall décor above the plant, or grounding the space with a corner rug. Doing this will also hep draw attention away from the plant (read: the fakeness won’t be as noticeable).

10. Place Them In Direct Sunlight

Remember, you can play every trick in the book, but if your plant is tucked away in some dark corner, all signs will point to fake! Sunshine is as integral to the life of plants as water, and nothing will make a plant look less real than lack of sunshine. Place your faux greens in front of a window or even on an outdoor patio to create the illusion of authenticity. (Do this even for fake spider plants and ZZ plants, which in real life actually don’t need sun.) Whether for plants or otherwise, sunlight is always the best style accessory!

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.