Artificial plants and flowers, also known as “silk” or permanent botanicals, have one obvious advantage over live plants–they don’t die. No need to remember to water or fertilize them. They can be placed anywhere without the need for light, and you can go away for a vacation without having to be concerned about them. Unlike the artificial plants and flowers of the past, today’s realistic delicate cloth blooms and foliage appear almost as delicate as the real thing. Artificial floral arrangements will gently sway when carried, unlike the crude plastic flowers available during the last century. Some petals and leaves appear so authentic that touch is the only way to distinguish them from live plants. Artificial flowers are sometimes used in arrangements along with fresh flowers to give the whole arrangement a realistic look. We will discuss the realistic artificial plants and flowers before going on to the fun fakes.
If you buy your artificial plants ready-made in either a cut floral arrangement or a potted plant, you will avoid a lot of work, but what fun is that? See a hobby or craft supply store for supplies you can use to make something uniquely your own. Start with an idea of where you want to put your finished project. That will give you an estimate of how large you want your arrangement to be. Consider your color scheme as well. If your basic color scheme is neutral you can go for whatever colors you want in your creation. You can make different arrangements for different seasons and rotate them throughout the year. If your home is full of your favorite colors you can match them in your artificial flowers or contrast them with new colors to make your craft stand out. The type of flowers you will want is another consideration. If you have a favorite flower or plant your choice will be clear. If not, try buying a wide range of shapes, colors, and textures to hold your viewers’ interest.
Unlike real plants, permanent botanicals need not be the same kind to share a container. Although mixing cacti with tropicals and evergreens might seem a bit crazy, there is nothing to keep you from “planting” your orchids alongside your tulips or daisies.
Once you have your artificial plants and/or flowers you will need a container or containers to hold them. For an outdoor garden look choose terracotta pots. For an exotic look try bamboo vases. Clear glass is always good for a classic look. Smooth wooden and metallic containers provide contrast with your more natural-appearing permanent botanicals. Styrofoam and glue complete your needs.
To “plant” an artificial plant in a container, cut your styrofoam to the size and shape of your container. Glue the styrofoam into your container. To make your plant appear to be the real thing, insert it vertically as a real plant would grow. For a whimsical look bend your stem into improbable but artistic shapes. Cover your foam with foliage or moss. When using artificial foliage insert it into your styrofoam all around your plant stem . When using moss you can use u-shaped wires to hold it into place. When “planting” several plants into one container, first decide whether your arrangement will be seen from one side or from all sides. If it will be next to a wall or on a buffet table your design will be one-sided. If the arrangement is meant to stand on a table where it will be viewed from all sides, that must be taken into consideration in your design. If your arrangement is to be one-sided have your tallest plant or flower at the back of the container for depth. If your project is meant to be seen from all sides place your tallest plant or flower into the center. For a modern look keep the arrangement simple. For a more traditional look place more plants or flowers around your tallest element, tapering from the tallest to the shortest thing. Remember to cover all foam with foliage or moss. Add accents like pine cones or artificial birds or butterflies for a natural look.
Make Christmas presents using conical styrofoam, precut. Cover your tree with foliage and add small glass orbs. Top it off with an angel or star and your gift is ready to warm someone’s heart. Styrofoam also comes in spheres and wreath shapes. Pave spheres with artificial flowers or foliage and fill a glass container with your decorative orbs. Make a wreath by covering donut-shaped styrofoam with a variety of flowers and foliage. Or buy a wreath made of grapevine and glue on your artificial flowers or plants.
If you are using a clear glass container, of course, you will not want to use foam. Simply place enough stems into your container so that they hold each other up in place. If you want a highly realistic look, try pouring clear glue into the bottom of your glass container. When it dries it will resemble water. Just be sure to get a type of glue that dries clear rather than yellow.
For the fabulous fun frankly fake look, try paper flowers. Huge daisies and tulips in bright, improbable colors will give your party or your little girl’s room an Alice in Wonderland look. And don’t forget florigami. A wide variety of plans for making paper flowers is available, and there is no limit on the colors you can use. Add paper birds and butterflies for an origami garden. Cover conical foam by gluing origami flowers over its entire surface. Place a stick vertically into the bottom. Cut out foam and glue it into a container. Now place the other end of the stick into the foam in your container. Glue in moss to cover your foam. Now you have an origami topiary.
The things you can do with artificial plants and flowers are limitless. Let your imagination run wild and remember to have a good time. Enjoy!