My “Must-Do” Fake Flower Decorating Tips

Learn my fake flower decorating tips and tricks behind creating realistic flower arrangements.

This time of year when we are eager for the departure of winter, adding colorful fresh flowers around our homes is one way to welcome spring into our lives. 

I love fresh flowers and try to use them most of the time, but sometimes it is just not possible.

When I can’t find what I am looking for in my yard or from the grocery store and I am desiring the visual joy of the color pops that flowers provide in my house, I don’t mind using fake flowers.

Not just any fake flowers though, I am very picky about the ones I buy and thought for today’s post I would share my fake flower decorating tips with you that can really make the difference when it comes to making them look as realistic as possible.

Fake flower decorating tips using craft store flowers

This time last year, I painted a vase with craft paint to place behind my sofa. In it I put fake forsythia. I loved it, the vase and the flowers looked fresh and vibrant in my living room. When summer came the forsythia went into a bag and into storage.

Fast forward to this week where I am tweaking the decor around my house for spring. I brought the vase and forsythia out of storage, except I decided I didn’t want to use the stems in the same way as I did last year.  This is one of my tips on how to make fake flowers look real.

How to decorate with fake flowers all through the year.

Don’t Use Fake Flowers in the Same Way Year After Year

Change it up. Place your faux stems in a different vase or container.  Move them from room to room so you get lots of mileage out of your purchase. I use the same forsythia branches every year, but placed them into a basket to help brighten up the firebox instead of the vase.

See the hydrangeas in the glass bottles on the mantel? When I first decorated the mantel for spring, I placed real flowers in the bottles. They have since died…

Fake purple hydrangea flowers on top of a glass fronted cabinet

…so I went to my fake flower storage stash and plucked out a few fake purple hydrangeas that I used to have on top of a cabinet in the kitchen of my previous house.

Fake flowers when you take care of them can last a very long time.

Fake Flower Decorating Tips

Fake flower decorating tips showing fake forsythia in fireplace box

TIP #1: To help space the forsythia in the larger container, I placed a few bunched-up plastic grocery bags into the basket and around the stems so they would fall evenly around the basket.

TIP #2: Real flowers, their stems and leaves are not perfect. Fake flowers look better when they are not perfectly arranged or placed perfectly symmetrical.

Yellow tulips on Kitchen decorating with wood bread boards.

TIP #3:  RESEARCH FRESH FLOWERS – Before you can buy good-looking fake flowers you need to know what real ones look like. Visit a florist or look at images of real flowers online. Be sure to check out the leaves. Each flower has its own leaf shape, veining and texture. Makers of fake flowers are getting better about making the leaves and stems look real.

Look for the best colors and most realistic looking flowers. If you search and are choosey you will be surprised at just how nice many at the craft store look… Even the dollar store, sometimes has a few types of fake florals that look good.

Tips and tricks on how to make fake flowers look real.

TIP #4:  CUT YOUR FLOWERS APART – Just because fake flowers are sometimes sold in a bunch doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. Separate the bouquet/bunch into individual stems. All it takes is a few snips using an inexpensive pair of wire cutters and you’ve got a bunch of individual flower stems to arrange in no time. Don’t use scissors as you will ruin the blades.

Once cut, you can arrange and place the flowers just as you would fresh flowers.  If using a glass vase this in even more important since you don’t want to see the stems being held together as a bush through the glass.

TIP #5:  BEND THE STEMS –  A real flower does not stand perfectly straight on it’s stem, they softly droop to the sides of a vase. So using your hands, bend the wire stems a bit so they will stand more like a real flower.

Decorating ideas using fake flowers. Pink Peonies from Crate and Barrel

TIP #6:  ADD WATER TO THE VASE – When using glass vases to display fake flowers, make sure to add water to the vase. This tip alone will make fake florals look more realistic. If metal ends of stems are visible, cut them off with wire cutters and then place in  water. If the metal can’t be cut off,  apply clear nail polish over the metal and let dry, then place in water. This will keep rust marks from forming on the glass.


TIP #7: GO MONOCHROMATIC – One thing I don’t like about grocery store flowers is that many are sold in mixed bouquets. I prefer to decorate with flowers that are all one color and type. Find one fake flower in the color you like and fill the vase or container with them.

TIP #8: ALLOW A FEW BUDS OR PETALS TO DROP – Natural things never stays the same, real flowers shed, so let your fake flowers shed a few blossoms or buds on the table.

TIP #9:  BUY ODD NUMBERS – When arranging flowers real or fake, use odd numbers of stems or branches. Odd numbers just look better. Buy enough to fill the vase. I always buy more than I think I will need and am always glad I did. If I get too many, I can always return them. You can’t do this with real flowers.

Yellow tulips on a wall cabinet that was made over into a sideboard by adding bun feet.

TIP #10: The reason these tulips look realistic is that their stems are thick and really resembles that of a real tulip. Many fake flowers come on thin wire stems and have cookie cutter dark green foliage.  These petals have texture to them an the leaves have realistic looking veins which helps give a more realistic feel. Plus the color looks more translucent and not one solid opaque yellow color.

TIP #11:  USE FLOWERS THAT ARE IN SEASON – An old-school rule about decorating with fake flowers was that you should only use fake flowers that are in season so they seem more realistic. I agree with this, but don’t let it influence my decision if I see pretty pink tulips in the middle of winter for sale at the grocery store.  Nowadays you can buy any season of flower any time of year at the grocery store or florist.

TIP #12: STORE IN PLASTIC BAGS – To keep fake flowers from getting dusty, give them a shake from time to time. I have even run them under water and allowed them to dry upright in a vase.  To store them, place in containers with large plastic garbage bags over the blooms. This way they stay clean, but won’t get crushed.

The next time you bring a bunch of fake flowers home from the store or get them out from storage, they are all always going to require a little fluffing and bending of the stems.  Doing a little tweaking will have them looking realistic in no time. And best of all, unlike real flowers, fake flowers will last for a long time so your purchase will be well worth it.

TIP #13: Use % OFF COUPONS  – When buying fake flowers from the craft store, I always wait until they are on sale or I have a 40% – 50% off coupon. I can get double the amount.

How to make your own fake flowers using tissue paper and dollar store items.

Want to make DIY fake flowers. I made these with tissue paper.

Fake flowers for fall in a basket on a mantel

In the fall, I used a mass of fake fall flowers in a basket on my mantel.

Fake purple tulips from Pottery Barn

The only thing fake flowers will never have is that fresh flower smell.  I make up for this by diffusing essential oils throughout the house. :-)

Tips and tricks on how to make fake flowers look realistic.

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  1. Great article
    I learnt floral arrangements with real flowers so am adapting to faux floral arrangements

  2. I have several orchid plants. It’s almost impossible to get them to rebloom (have been lucky exactly once!). So I use the real plant and just add faux orchid stems. I even clip them to the supports, just like the real ones. No one has ever spotted the fakes!

    I’ve also used faux hydrangea blooms to decorate a thrift store wreath. It’s hanging on our front door and looks fabulous.

  3. I enjoyed your article about faux flowers. Having had many gardens and windows and houses, I am now in an apartment which doesn’t afford me any great light until 10:30-11:00am so I am down to one little real jade plant. I must say that it has given me a whole new perspective on displaying flowers…..all faux!!! I don’t put water in my vases because I’m just too prone to spilling. I think I’m a believer in quantity over quality, lol, but I shop at the thrift stores and have been able to find some stunning bouquets, a recent find was a Huge basket of mixed flowers for $4.99!!!! I have a tiny studio in my garage and I placed vintage gym baskets all around the top shelves and sorted by color. I mix and match and love every minute. So they are really on display whether in my home or in the garage. So easy to give a quick rinse and ready to arrange!! Such a pleasure!!!

  4. Tony Brown says:

    This is a mind blowing Idea. I Love It!

  5. It has never occurred to me to put water in the vase……mind blown!

  6. What type of water do you use for fake flowers in a clear glass vase that won’t rings around the vase?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Emily –

      Good question.:-) I will add my answer to the post. I have a whole house water softener so my water is very soft and rarely leaves rings or cloudiness that hard water can on surfaces. The easiest way to keep rings away is to add some white vinegar to the water. Just a little so you can’t smell it. Another way is to clean the inside glass of the vase with RainX Glass cleaner before adding water. This will help repel any build up of calcium on the glass. If you are not familiar with RainX, here is a link to the product that would work:

  7. I’ve added fresh water as the stems are plastic and it looks fabulous – much more realistic. I tried to add a photo but can’t seem to do it,. Thanks for the advice

  8. Thank you for this. I think I’ll try the natural water as it’s a huge vase so wouldn’t fancy trying to remove the still water. I’ll let you know how it goes,

  9. I have a lovely artificial flower arrangement set in about 3 ins. of still water. It’s in a clear glass vase and always looks as if the flowers need water.
    Can I add more still,water to the arrangement without forming a join line, or could I add normal water.?

    I wonder how often would I need to change the normal,water – doesn’t it discolour? I hope you can advise me,

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Yvonne –

      It can’t hurt to try to add more of the acrylic still water to your arrangement and see what happens. It may be a slightly different color and like you mentioned – you may see a line where the old and new meet. I have never done it, so I am not sure. If you don’t like it, you can always remove all of it using nail polish remover and then just use real water and refill the vase when needed.

      You will be surprised at how long and clear the water will last – 2 months is what I have found before it starts to look darker and will need a refresh. The only thing to note if you do this is to make sure the stems on your fake flowers are plastic and not wrapped silk. Wrapped silk will come undone if placed in water.

      How to Remove Acrylic Still Water From a Vase – Fill the vase with acetone (nail polish remover). Add enough acetone to completely cover the still water and fill the vase. Allow the vase to sit for a few days. Spill out the acetone along with the acrylic water that has been dissolved. Repeat the process if some of the acrylic still water remains are still in the vase.

      I hope this helps. Let me know what you end up doing as other readers may benefit and want to do the same thing with their arrangements that have the acrylic water in them.

  10. This is an insightful Post. Thanks for sharing!!!

  11. Aquafresh RO says:

    I am a regular follower to your post and I like your idea.

  12. I have to ask—where did you get that blue throw blanket?! I have been looking EVERYWHERE for a throw that color and texture, but haven’t been able to find anything close to that color blue ?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sarah – My mom bought the blue throw back in the late 1980’s at IKEA. She lived near the very first IKEA when the store came to the US. It is 30 years old and still looks like new. It is made very well. Sorry that I couldn’t give you good news and tell you it is still available today. :-(

  13. Anne Meyer says: has great faux flowers. You can buy them in bouquets on clearance and split them up. They have some really cheap ones that are not so great, but they are clear in that case about what they are.

  14. Valarie Evans says:

    I love all your hints and have added water to a couple of vases. Thanks for the tip. As for me, love the peonies from Pier 1 but only buy when on sale bc they are expensive. When the petals get too droopy, l hit them with aerosol hair spray from Dollar Tree and hang them upside down till dry. Works great!

  15. I never thought of putting these fake flowers in water. Makes them look so real. Out to look for some fake tulips.
    Thank you Diane!

  16. Well have to say that yours look beautiful but I am one that is not a fan of fake flowers. Somehow just knowing they’re fake takes the enjoyment away for me. Also they collect dust quickly and need rinsed or vacuumed a lot

  17. I love all these! The white and green ones look wonderful! I can’t wait to try out all your tips, thank you so much for sharing!

  18. Wonderful tips all, I would like to add just one more…use your hair dryer! LOL. Seriously, I have found that the heat can fix issues from storage, or even when purchasing some of the faux imperfect blooms/foliage. In addition, I try to store them in under bed containers so that I won’t have too much weight on top of each other. When purchasing or storing I pop a hole in the corner of the plastic bag and slide the stems through in order to keep just the pretty parts from dust and crush. Hope some of this is helpful?

  19. I do use fake flowers but I only use white flowers and green foliage or a variety of green foliage. For some reason to me its a richer look and never looks fake. I love a fake white orchid or real orchid with ferns and moss in a stone pot. I also mix real flowers with fake flowers.

  20. Oh thank you for this post. I get discouraged by all the faux plant shaming in the design world, since I can’t seem to keep live plants and flowers actually alive! My local grocery has those pre-mixed arrangements in neon colors which I think are worse than faux and the monochromatic flower bunches they have are way too expensive. I can’t afford $30 for something that will wilt and die in a few days. However, in the same floral section they have the best faux flowers. Still expensive per stem, but very realistic. I actually just bought some today that had two different types of stems, one fully bloomed and one greener with buds that look like they will open tomorrow. I bought five stems, some of each and they look so fresh and Spring-y in my milk glass vase. Love your tips and the encouragement to do what works for me.

  21. Great post. There are flowers, like forsythia and peonies (which I have a yard full of!) that I can’t bring in the house because I’m allergic so this is especially helpful.

  22. Diane, I use fresh flowers as often as possible, but fake flowers are a must sometimes. I like to think that I’m pretty good at artfully using them as my husband does not like fake flowers, but I walked away with a few tips and I’m pinning your fabulous article to remember for later. Thanks, friend!

  23. Diane, always great tips from you! I love your flower arrangements, too!

  24. Catherine says:

    All great tips, Diane. I use caution also when buying the fake flowers because sometimes they are pretty bad copies. I sometimes use them if I’m making something up in a container (basket, wreath) if I only need a spurt of color to fill in. The whole thing isn’t visible so no one knows the difference.
    I also clean them with corn meal if I can’t put them into water.

  25. Beth Fagundes says:

    Thank you for your wonderful tips on using artificial flowers. I always need help with my arrangments as they looked too symmetrical and uniform to look right. I will use your tip of separating the stems and having them droop over the side a bit. You are always so helpful!

  26. Linda L Weeks says:

    It was just luck that I found the last bouquet of flowers at Michael’s on sale but they worked out so nicely! I got some yellow and white flowers that were long and droopy and a few brightly colored carnations, and dang, I was very proud of myself! for a lot less than $10!

  27. When I was reading about feng shui last year, I discovered they don’t recommend fake flowers. Well, I bought a tiny fake plant last year for our kitchen, and I’m hooked. The kitchen window is under a carport so doesn’t get direct sunlight, so a real plant won’t do. I’m loving all the fake little succulent plants available now too. I might get one for our northern facing bathroom which gets zero sunlight.

  28. Yes, I too use fake flowers. It’s a real budget saving option.

    This time of year I too like to have real flowers, especially on my dining table. Last week I bought a bouquet of pale green mini-carnations at Walmart $4.97. Great buy! But…. though the color was gorgeous I needed a little more color (in this case pink) to tie into the colors I used in the adjoining LR.

    I happened to have some very, very real looking pale pink roses garnered from a floral shop arrangement where they’d used both faux and real flowers. The real ones were of course long gone, but the faux ones were there for the picking. ;-) Added to the real mini-carnations, the arrangement looks very cottage-y and very pretty. You cannot tell the roses are faux until you look closely.

    Many times, I too have used all your tips for making faux flowers look real. Even dollar store faux flowers will look much better when cut apart…that’s probably the best tip ever. :-)

    Diane, your tips are always spot-on and very good for small budgets…though anyone will benefit from them even if they have much more to spend. :-)

  29. All good tips I’ll pin, but the best was the Christmas flowers only gift card! I’m always trying to figure out something my husband can give me …