Faux Real? Much Maligned Artificial Plants Make Comeback

Artificial flowers and plants enjoyed a heyday back in the 70's. But over time, their dusty, plastic or silk aesthetic earned a reputation for being tacky, and eventually they fell out of favour.

Fast forward to today and faux ferns, florals and foliage are back.

Overnight, it's back in style'

"It's absolutely fuelled by social media," says Marlene Tate, owner of Trims, a faux flower shop in North Vancouver that sells only artificials. "Pinterest, Instagram, all those things, all of a sudden overnight, it's back in style," she said.

Millenials have driven that surge of interest in faux botanicals, populating social media platforms with countless how-to's, likes, comments and artful images of everything from faux flower weddings to picnics and home decor.

Today's artificial greenery is more realistic looking and, in many instances, it's hard to tell the fake version from the real.

Faux real? Much maligned artificial plants make comeback

From life-like orchids and peonies, to nearly natural bridal bouquets, and authentic looking succulent gardens and house plants, the updated designs deliver the beauty of nature, with zero responsibility and no time commitments.

For those without green thumbs, they're a perfect fit.

Flower snobs

Tate has been running her shop for almost 30 years and says customers are often unaware that the florals they're looking at are fake. She said she and her staff have been met with "flower snobs" on occasion.

"You can't change somebody's perception, and you can't take off their stink face when you say 'artificial,'" she said.

"To me it's the most undervalued art form that exists. It's like haute couture. These flowers are botanically correct."

One less thing to worry about

Olaybal says she chose faux over fresh flowers because they could be prepared weeks before the wedding, giving her one less thing to worry about.

"You're getting more bang for your buck because you get to keep them forever" she said. "I keep my bouquets at home as decorations now."

Tate says millennials may have taken to the current faux craze more than those over age 50 because they have no memory of the fake flowers' past reputation for being tacky.

But she does enjoy the moment when a customer transforms from sceptic to convert.

"We see people come into the store … and watch them bend forward to smell something," she says. "You can see their perception change and then it's 'Oh my God I didn't realize it wasn't real.'

"It is the greatest compliment we can get."