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Not Your Mama’s Fake Ficus

Why houseplants are part of good interior design and how to find the best fit for you.

Presented by Chic on the Cheap March 5, 2019

Growing up, I remember chasing my brother and sister around, knocking over our fake ficus, and being covered in dust and fake mulch.  At the time, that didn’t endear me to indoor plants, but I have since come around to the idea that they do have a place inside a home. 

Fiddle leaf figs, snake plants and ferns can be found all over social media photos and design blogs.  Houseplants are certainly having a moment.  From an interior design perspective, they give scale, pattern, warmth and texture to your space.  They soften hard lines and provide a sense of comfort.  I love seeing a good Instagram photo of a living room with a tall, mature fiddle leaf plant in the corner, a fern on a bookshelf and an orchid on the coffee table. 

But what’s that, you say? You can’t imagine having a real plant inside your seasonal residence since you’re not here year-round to care for it?  Not to worry. I am an advocate of houseplants for all, and have found ways to incorporate them into many of my interior design projects.  Below are a few tips on how to make them work for you.

Did you know there are a few services that will come to your house and water your plants on a regular basis? How nice is that?!  You get all the enjoyment and none of the work—sign me up!  However, if this isn’t an option, you can certainly buy a real plant or two at the start of the season and gift it to your garden or neighbor when you leave for cooler weather in the summer. 

Orchids and ZZ plants are perfect for this.  Personally, I like getting my orchids from Trader Joe’s. They’re in full bloom and they’re inexpensive.  While some people have green thumbs, I do not.  After a few weeks, when my orchid bites the dust, I don’t feel so bad if I’ve only shelled out $10.  A good-looking and inexpensive ZZ plant can be found at Home Depot and Lowes (like the photo below).  The leaves of a ZZ are broad, uniform and bright green; they are a winner in my book.   They require little water so if you leave for a week or two, you’ll probably come back to a plant that is thirsty, but not dead.

Another favorite of mine is the snake plant. Snake plants fit best in a modern or mid-century modern design.  They’re vertically oriented, so they’re good for tight spots (think the corner of your living room in your modest-sized condo).  Often times with a snake plant, it’s more about the planter than the plant.  Planters with feet or legs work well and emphasize the verticality of these beauties. 

While real snake plants aren’t hard to take care of, Lux Art makes a great faux snake plant.  I have even used these outdoors on a seasonal resident’s balcony.  No one would suspect a fake plant outside, but it fit the bill perfectly!

The fiddle leaf fig is my last stop on the greenery bandwagon.  The live variety is quite striking.  If you want to buy a real fiddle leaf fig, the best place I have found in town to pick one up is at is Farm and Garden on Beneva.  They have a fantastic selection of fig plants over 3 feet tall.  I have seen plenty of 3’ tall ones in local nurseries and home improvement stores, but Farm and Garden is the only place I have found that has taller options. 

And back to the fake stuff—don’t waste your time online or driving around town.  Instead, go to Lux Art and you’ll find a great fiddle leaf fig; below is an example of one at a condo remodel project.  Don’t see what you want? Go to the website or ask a salesperson.  If you can imagine it, they can create it for you!

Take your styling cues from whatever inspires you—photos, magazines, design blog posts (like this one!), and buy a plant.  Adding a little life in the form of greenery inside your home will go a long way.

Registered Interior Designer Lic # 5736, LEED AP
Chic on the Cheap