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How To Make Faux Plants Look Real

Phalaenopsis Plant in a spherical brushed gold pot cover

Kate Blott |

How To ‘Stage’ Your Fake Plants

Make artificial plants look more realistic by posing and styling the stems, flowers, and leaves. At Atlas Flowers, we also recommend dressing up the base of your plant pot with natural products to add ‘life’ to the display.

What To Put In The Base Of A Fake Plant

You may wish to add realism to your artificial plant by adding soil to the top of the pot, but this can get messy. Dress the the pot with small stones, or sand, or top it with some preserved moss pieces for extra greenery and interest.

Helleborus, Christmas Rose Plant, 30cm
A Christmas Rose plant (Helleborous) displayed in a terracotta flowerpot.

Tips For ‘Fluffing’ Artificial Leaves And Foliage

When manufactured, artificial plants are tied into tight forms and often heavily packaged to protect them. Once unpacked, it’s common to find the plant reluctant to fall into a natural-looking shape. Carefully opening up all the stems and separating out the flowers and leaves will bring the plant to life. Many of these plants are symmetrical, which can make them look unnatural. Trim a few leaves and smaller stems away to create a more natural look - be careful not to get too carried away! Remember that wire's often within the plastic stem to allow them to be bent into shape. This can make them difficult to cut with standard scissors, so choose a good quality snip, wire-cutter, or secateurs.

Geranium (Austrian), Red
An Austrian geranium plant, perfect for home or garden.

Bend and Flex

Another way to enhance the realism is to bend and shape the stems. Angle leaves or flowers into different positions so they face different directions. Sometimes, stems and foliage can be reluctant to accept manipulation. Warming them up can help, so use a hair dryer on low heat. Hold them in position until cool so they remain in their new shape.


After being stored in a box prior to purchase, leaves and flowers may become crumpled. Gentle steaming can help to relax and unfurl the foliage. Be very careful if you use either of these methods. Wear protective gloves, and do not apply heat for too long. The heat from steam or hot air can burn the skin and damage the product.

Tape and Wire

If the plant still doesn’t want to hold a new shape, try using florist’s wires, inserted into the stem or wrapped around. Coloured tape will cover the wire if you need to hide it from view.

How To Make Fake Leaves More Shiny

New artificial plants can have dull leaves. This can be from residues left over from the manufacturing process. To create a natural shine, try a few of these tips. Water is essential for live plants. They often have a dewy glow first thing in the morning that makes them look shiny. To replicate this, use a spritzing bottle to spray a light mist over the foliage. With non-porous leaves, wipe with a moist sponge. Hairspray or specialist artificial plant sprays are longer-lasting when regular maintenance is inconvenient and can offer an excellent result. It’s also worth remembering that dust will diminish the desired shine of faux foliage, so don’t let it build up. Specialist artificial flower cleaning products will also help prevent dust build-up.

How To Make Fake Leaves Less Shiny

Sometimes, new artificial plants have leaves that are too shiny. Wipe over with a damp cloth to remove any residue that may be causing the shine. Careful drying with a non-fibrous cloth will further help remove sheen. Sealing spray with a matt finish or clear craft lacquer is a longer-lasting way to keep the shine down. These products are for a range of crafting applications and are relatively inexpensive.

Tips For Decorating With Faux Vines

Artificial vines are a low-maintenance, versatile, and effective option for bringing hanging greenery into an otherwise bare space. Getting the best out of these products doesn’t take much effort either, as they are easy to hang and fix into place. Let’s get into how.

Artificial grape garland with 72 leaves of different sizes and differing shades of green.
An artificial grape garland is a nice finishing touch to a banister or mantel.

Fixing and Securing

Many vine garlands come with a loop or hook at one end or in the centre. These are great to tie (as in the image above), nail or wire the vine into place. Wind the garland around railings, rafters, pillars, banisters or balustrades. Why not add some extras that hang to give the impression of a well-established plant? If you don't have the space to hang vines, there is a wide range of artificial plants available for the home or office. If there is good floor space, why not bring larger, statement plants into your space too?

Trailing and Draping

Trailing vines over high balconies, ceilings, pillars, or rafters (such as in the image above) may not be feasible. Not everyone has ornate interior architecture within their house. If you have a fireplace with a mantel, use fire retardant products or keep it unlit, and drape the vine or ivy over the top, around and about existing decor. It’s possible to do this with or without pots or vessels, but to keep things looking authentic, using these to fix the vine into place can make it easier to style. Depending on the look you wish to achieve, adding in some other faux foliage can enhance the aesthetic.

Weighting and Dressing

It’s worth adding weight to your pot, vase or vessel to ensure it doesn’t tumble from its perch. Stones, glass pebbles, acrylic stones, soil, or sand are great ways to add some ballast to your pots. Depending on the look desired, mix natural and coloured products. Marbles can add some quirky charm to your designs. To ensure the vine is secure in the pot, use dried floral foam underneath the weighting medium. Cut the floral foam to size and press it into the vessel. Push the vine into this, and add the weighting medium on top. Once added, this will disguise the foam and add security to the finished article. If you opt for a plain substance like stones, why not use curly moss on top to offer a natural finish?


In bedrooms or living spaces that need a cosy touch, use LED lighting* in combination with the vine by twisting them together and hanging them around windows, dressing table mirrors, or doors. Take care with fixing these in place so as not to damage the LED wire. Nail-in clips are discreet and work well on wood or stud walls, giving the wire and vine space. Fill a large glass vase with a string of these lights, and wrap the vine around the outside to create a statement table lamp. Coloured glass looks amazing if you are looking to achieve a particular mood.

*(check the manufacturer's advice, or consult a qualified person as to product suitability)

F.A.Q.s - Making Faux Plants Look Real

  • How do you make a fake plant stem look real?

Fake plant stems can look rigid, uniform, and flat. Add life to them by manipulating the shape into more natural forms. Carefully use heat from a hairdryer to soften the stem material, and manipulate it into a more realistic shape.

  • What do you put in the base of a fake plant?

Some fake plants come in pots with a solid base. These often have a textured top that looks like soil. To make more of these, use a larger pot, or a pot cover. Add some weight to stabilise the pot, and top it up with attractive stones, glass beads, or mosses to create a nice finish.

  • How do you fluff fake plants?

The fluffing of fake plants is a term that means manipulating them to create a more realistic finish. Artificial plants are often packaged tightly for transport, and they need freeing up and posing into more realistic forms. Taking time to move stems, leaves and blooms into natural-looking positions can make all the difference in how realistic a fake plant looks.

  • How do you make fake vines look good?

Artificial vines are usually quite realistic looking and require the bare minimum of manipulation to make them look amazing. Even poorer quality products can look good. Again, it comes down to the positioning of leaves and stems. Careful posing and staging of the leaves with cover up potentially unsightly stems and create a great finish. Draping around props can add movement and life where in reality, there is none.

  • Can you spray paint fake greenery?

Floral colour sprays come in a variety of colours and can usually be used in conjunction with fake greenery to enhance their look. Removing manufacturing residues, and ensuring they are dry enough to take a spray of paint is generally all that is required before you carefully spray a little paint. Taking care to build up the product slowly rather than applying a mass of colour in one go not only minimises errors in colouration, but prevents it from dripping and showing runs of colour.

  • How do you make fake leaves LESS shiny

Wipe with a damp cloth to remove residue that may cause excessive shine. Dry with a non-fibrous cloth. Use a matt finish sealing spray, or clear craft lacquer to keep the shine down.

  • How do you make fake leave MORE shiny?

Dullness can be from residues left over from the manufacturing process. To create a natural shine, wipe with water. To replicate an early morning dewy glow, use a spritzing bottle to spray a light mist over the foliage. Hairspray or specialist artificial plant sprays are longer-lasting and can offer excellent results. It’s also worth remembering that dust will diminish the desired shine of faux foliage, so don’t let it build up. Specialist artificial flower cleaning products will also help prevent dust build-up.

  • How do you stage fake plants?

Staging fake plants is essential to make them look as real as possible. Manipulation of stems, leaves and blooms is just part of this. Using good quality, appropriate pots and pot covers will enhance the overall look. Topping off the 'soil' with either real soil, moss, pebbles or another substance will dress them up. Placing them in the right light will help make the leaves look as realistic as possible.

  • How do you make a fake plant look real in a planter?

Using planters with fake plants is a great way to maximise their potential. Very often fake plants will come with a very small pot that doesn't reflect the size of a real root ball, and so placing this inside a planter will ensure another level of realism is achieved. Look for planters that are of the right size - both diameter and height. Add weight to hold the plant inside securely and prevent it from toppling over. Use pebbles, moss, sand, fake (or real) soil and any other realistic materials to dress the top of the pot and add a realistic finish.

  • How do you make fake leaves look more realistic?

The fake leaves on a plant can often let down the overall look of an artificial product. They can be too shiny, or not shiny enough, have poor quality reverse detail, or be scrunched up because of transport packaging. Taking time to remove manufacturing residues can alter the shine, and the application of specialist sprays and lacquers (or even hairspray) can give a more realistic finish. Taking time to manipulate the position and shape of the leaf will ensure you are maximising the realism of the product. Don't forget to keep them clean to ensure they retain their good looks.

Love Faux Plants!

Now you know how to style and get the best out of these lovely products, why not join the growing number of people who love faux plants? At Atlas Flowers, we pride ourselves on selecting the best quality artificial plants and flowers, products ideal for home or commercial displays. We work with a number of suppliers to bring our customers a wide range of plants, vines and florals, to provide the best possible choice for homes, offices, businesses, or events. If you're still not sure, look at our top reasons to choose artificial flowers to see if we can convince you further! If you don’t see what you’re looking for, please contact us to discuss your requirements, pricing, and bulk purchasing options.

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