Not a Gardinista? Faux Foliage might be the answer.

Filed in Design and Decor, In This Issue by on May 6, 2017

Refreshing Design-9By Merrie Sue Holtan

Photography by Justin Eiler


If you are going to “go faux,” you might as well pick from top-shelf materials, and succulents rank high on the list. Refreshing Designs in Perham, Minn., has customers driving for miles around to buy quality faux foliage.


“All our plants are handpicked,” says RD designer, Bailee Schissel. “We examine every one. Each item is botanically correct, where they grow the real plants and then mimic and hand paint them.”


“The color green is life giving and makes you feel good,” says RD designer Leann Feldt. “Ferns, sage, herbs such as mint, and boxwood make great fillers. Using real dirt or sand and rocks for succulents make them look natural.”


The designers suggest examining the variety, shape, color and texture relative to the vessels they are in. Mixing sizes and shapes and how they are displayed give a realistic look.


Other tips include: Look for life-like trunks or stems, imperfect leaves and a beautiful pot. Mix and match real plants with faux and try using faux outside in mild climates.


Greenery provides the opportunity to bring the outside inside and create a bit of life in every room says RD designer Leann. Faux foliage can inspire your living or working space, adding harmony to your life.


Refreshing Design-17Faux History


In the Old Testament, the Queen of Sheba supposedly tested the wisdom of Solomon by asking him to identify the fresh flowers from the fake. In the 18th century, Marie Antoinette had her own florist on hand to craft elaborate floral accessories. By the 19th century, London had troops of flower girls who sold silk creations in music halls. Today, most artificial foliage is imported from Asian countries.


When the art form began, faux plants and flowers made from silky fabric, were expensive and not realistic looking. Today the manufacturing process allows them to more closely replicate the authentic live plant, tree or flower down to the finest detail. They are especially popular used in combination with live plants in interiorscapes and landscapes.


Refreshing Design-175Faux Benefits


Besides providing a relaxed atmosphere and a warm and inviting space, artificial plants remain pest free. Leaves and soil provide the food to support these pests. No food supply equals no pests. They let nature in without really having to do so. Artificial foliage can be used as attractive walls or panels, providing privacy and noise insulation. Since they are UV protected, they do not fade. Typically, artificial plants are unattractive to pets and will not be poisonous for them. Safe from allergies, they are quick and easy to install, weather resistant and maintenance free, with no need to provide plant sitters when on vacation. Environmentally, they also save on water.


The plants are easy to clean with a quick dusting every other week and an occasional soak in a solution of bleach and water followed by rinsing and air drying.


Refreshing Design-199Faux Interior & Exterior


If you have an exterior wall space or a large main door, utilize a hanging plant or floral window box, such as ivy. Your house will instantly provide an excellent welcome for guests.


In the dining room, try a table centerpiece combining different colors. If space allows, choose a large plant such as a palm, one of the most popular artificial foliage choices. The bathroom provides a place to give a touch of serenity with a bonsai or African violet for a corner space or a large dark green foliage if space is available. Since the kitchen may be more humid with variations in temperature, it is perfect for artificial plants. Place a plant above or along the cabinets to give life to the environment but save space. A favorite spot for the bedroom plant is the nightstand since it attracts attention when entering the room.


Trees, plants and topiaries have become a hot new item in the faux outdoor foliage industry. In some situations it may be impossible to keep real outdoor plants alive. The most popular outdoor plants include artificial boxwoods and podocarpus bushes. Flowering artificial bougainvillea, geranium or gardenia bushes can add the final accent for a patio or pool design. Outdoor palms have long been a favorite to create a tropical look around pools. Now ficus, Ming aralia and conifers in cedar and cypress (Arborvitae) are also available.


Are you looking to hide a fence? Creating a living wall or building an outdoor hedge are suitable strategies. Outdoor boxwood and ivy mats are a perfect solution, along with ferns, as a great accent in a planter.


Outdoor topiaries add a creative touch to landscaping. They can be anywhere from 3 to 7 feet tall and come in shapes such as spiral, cone, and ball topiary. Varieties include boxwood, podocarpus, cedar and juniper.


Most outdoor artificial plants, trees and topiaries can be purchased either potted or unpotted. A decorative planter will provide an accent around the pool, patio or front entrance. To keep the plants looking great, professionals recommend regular washing to help keep out oils, dirt and residue from building up on them, causing them to degrade faster. Normal rainfall usually does the trick or simply hose them down on a regular basis.


Seek assistance from designers at Refreshing Designs and begin experimenting with a couple of faux plants or flowers. Pay attention to the impact on your decor. You might be surprised.