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Making Faux Plants and Branches Look Real

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At this time last year, I shared with you My “Must-Do Fake Flower Decorating Tips. This post is all about Faux plants and how to style them so they look as realistic as possible. You will find how to style fake stems in water to making a topiary look real.  

If you follow design blogs and have read decorating magazines as long as I have, then you have seen trends in furnishings, decorative accessories, paint colors and more… come and go.

styling ideas for fake plants and branches.

Some home decorating trends have more staying power than others, some become classics, but most simply become popular to the masses for a few years until the next trend surfaces.

How to arrange long stem fake flowers in a glass vase in living room decor

There are two decorating trends that have been popular for the last few years in the world of decor that I just can’t get on board with.

They are succulents and macrame wall hangings. I grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s. Both of these remind me of my awkward junior high years… no need to bring any of those memories back. :-)

Even if succulents are not my thing, there is a plant trend I do like… it’s one that is open, airy, casual and relaxed.

Pottery-Barn-fake-branches-in-tall glass-vases

The house plant trend I really like is the simple, but artfully arranged fake greenery branches that are in tall glass vases that you see gracing the pages of Pottery Barn catalogs.

I have never had much of a green thumb and am fine with using faux or fake flowers and house plants in my house. 

Of course, I prefer decorating and arranging with real fresh flowers and clip branches from the shrubs and trees around my yard to place in vases,  but I can only cut so many branches off each season :-) 

Good quality artificial plants, stems, branches and flowers can look just as nice when styled in a realistic way are my second go-to.

how to arrange artificial flowers in a vase

I love the large tall arrangements shown in the catalogs, but I don’t live in a house with large rooms and high ceilings. I have to pare the size down to look in proportion within my space.

When I am out shopping I always search for just the right size to use.

Large glass vase filled with water and fake house plant that is sitting on a round wood table.

Two weeks ago at Hobby Lobby, I found these Ginkgo branches. With my online coupon, they cost around $12. 

What I like about them the most is their color, a light green. Many fake plants are a very dark green, I prefer light green.  The other reason I like them is they were just the right height for my kitchen table.

With some bending and fluffing of each stem, I arranged them in a large pickle jar I picked up at the thrift store many years ago. It is my go to vase that gives off the casual vibe I like.

How to Make Faux Plant Branches Look Real 

Steps needed showing how to arrange artificial flowers in a vase

1. FIND PHOTOS – When you go shopping to find the best faux branches to place in glass vases, take pictures with you from magazines so you can compare the look of everything from the leaves to the stems. Real plants have stems and leaves that are not all the same color and can be slightly imperfect

2. LOOK FOR A TALL CONTAINER – You don’t have to limit yourself to an actual vase, consider repurposing tall bottles and jars. 

3. LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF STEMS  – Using only 3 stems looks more realistic and allow the stems look prettier in the water. 

two branches to use for tall vase arrangements

4. CURVE THE STEMS  –  A real flower does not stand perfectly straight on it’s stem, they softly droop to the sides of a vase. Using your hands, bend the wire stems into a slight curve so they will stand more like a real flower.

5. ADD WATER TO THE VASE – When using glass vases to display fake branches or flowers, make sure to add water to the vase. This tip alone will make fake florals look more realistic.

If the metal ends of the stems are visible, cut them off with wire cutters. 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.

6. MIX WITH REAL – If you only have one long faux branch, mix it up with two real branches to create a more realistic look. 

Fake Gingko house plant in large clear glass vase filled with water on top of a round wood table.

Other Ways To Style Faux Greenery Branches To Make Them Look Real

how to ideas to arrange indoor plants in glass vases

The Lily Pad Cottage

I love how Kelly from The Lily Pad Cottage styled a fake branch in a clear vase. No water needed when you style the tall greenery into the glass vase that has potting soil and a few decorative rocks in the bottom.

How to Create a Fake Topiary That Looks Real

Make a fake topiary to decorate a kitchen counter.

This idea is not using the fake greenery branches in a glass vase, but it is another way to use them to create a real looking plant.

Cut greenery off fake floral stems. Use a real tree branch wedged into a pot filled with soil. Find out how to create it here: How to Make a Fake Topiary

How to Clean Faux Plant Stems

Thank you to reader, Connie M. who shared a very smart tip on how to clean artificial flowers. Use a paint brush.  A 1″- 2″ wide one would be perfect. The bristles are stiff, yet soft enough to get into all the crevices without damaging the flowers and leaves.

When they need a deep cleaning:

  1. The easiest way to clean fake greenery is to place them in a tub or sink of warm soapy water, swish them around to loosen the dust, then spray them down with the sink faucet sprayer.
  2. Shake and gently remove excess water on them with a fluffy towel.
  3. Air dry them by placing them right back in the vase.  Arrange to your liking and let dry in place. If you allow them to dry laying down on a towel, they may get kinks or flat areas and won’t look natural.

Faux Plant Resources:

Green Boston Fern Bush

More faux plant decorating ideas:

10 Minute Flower Vase

My “Must-Do” Fake Flower Decorating Tips


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  1. Love this post!! So timely, I just bought some new greenery and flowers at HL yesterday.
    For my bigger ferns I end up taking them outside on a nice day and use the hose lightly to get the dust off. Then lay them out on the patio to dry. Works great!
    Macrame is thumbs down for me too. I think we had potted plants hanging in macrame holders in almost every room ?

  2. A co-worker taught me the trick of using a clean paintbrush to “dust” my artificial plants. She also used it on other decorative items around the room. Works like a charm.

    1. Hi Connie – That is a great trick. Better than a feather duster since a paint brushes bristles are stiffer than a feather duster. Plus, smaller, so it can get into the grooves on the faux flowers better. Thanks for taking the time to share the tip. I will add it to the post with a mention to you. :-)

  3. HATE the macramé! I also grew up in the sixties and seventies, and I didn’t like those wall-hangings even then! And there were so many macramé hanging plant holders! I like a few of the succulents, not many, but what I also dislike so much are the air plants–they are creepy to me.

    Love lots of the ideas you have! Are there any particular faux-plant sources you like? Thanks.

  4. Hello. No macrame for me either; it does remind me of the 70s when my mom took a class to learn how to make terracotta planters and hung them in macrame!
    That trend is either for nostalgic or young people who were born after!

    Another trend I do not miss: in the 70s, my aunts used to knit “poodles” with Phentex yarn to cover toilet paper rolls! Every “trendy” bathroom had one. LOL

    For fun, I went down memory lane and found some poodles under “Knitted poodle toilet roll cover” on the Internet!

      1. Dang. I love macrame. I wouldn’t want it everywhere, but I wouldn’t want anything everywhere .. other than money.