How To Buy Artificial Flowers and Plants for Airbnb’s and Vacation Rentals

and what to avoid at all costs!




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October 21, 2015
Artificial flowers in vacation rentals

Last week, I received the following question on the 1 Chic Retreat Facebook page from the subscriber, Lynette Doan, and thought I’d share it with our community because it’s a great discussion topic:

Hi Mercedes. What are your thoughts on artificial succulent arrangements? Would you put these or any other artificial plants or flowers in a vacation rental?

The answer is, yes I do approve of artificial botanicals in vacation rentals and Airbnb’s – be they succulents, flowers, twigs or sprigs.

However – and this is a critical “however” – there are some very critical guidelines that must be followed if you’re going to buy the right kind of artificial plants and arrange and maintain them well. 

So let’s get started!

1 Chic Retreat’s Handy-Dandy, Trustworthy Guidelines for Buying, Arranging, and Caring for Faux Botanicals:

1. Know the difference between “Fake” and “Faux”

Ok, let me begin by saying that 95% of artificial botanicals are slumlords. Shiny plastic leaves, unrealistically bright colors, super fake looking leaves. They’re a hot mess.

Ugly Fake Flowers

Ouch! It actually hurts to look at this fake flower arrangement. The only place I can imagine this is in front of a velvet Matador portrait. And please don’t tell me you have one of those.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned monster is all too common when you Google shop “artificial flowers.” There are thousands of such garish, cheesy, tacky, low-brow arrangements on which to spend your money. Avoid them at all costs.

They are the kiss of death in vacation rentals.

But the other 5%?

The other 5% are simply and utterly awesome. This tiny, élite minority, eerily lifelike, don’t belong in the same class as their slumming-it siblings. These babies take realism to a whole new level. We’ll refer to them as “faux.”

Here’s a fine example to feast your darlings on…

Artificial flowers in vacation rentals

Can you believe these aren’t real?! The Rose Cottage Arrangement from Fox Flowers looks as if it was picked the same morning from an English garden. My my, what beauties!

Faux botanicals are fantastic in vacation rentals and Airbnb’s. Not only do they look epically chic, but they save you the hassle and cost of constantly buying flowers. And for those guests with flower allergies, well, you’re pleasing those folks too.

2. Find some trustworthy vendors and stick with them.

Now that you know the difference, it’s time to find some faux botanical vendors you can trust. And even they can’t always be depended upon, so inspect, inspect, inspect. Look carefully, wear your glasses, take a magnifying glass out if you have to. You should not be able to tell they’re fake by sight; rather the catch will be in the touch. Don’t solely depend on yourself, ask a few family members or super honest friends. If the specimens give off even a whiff of the fake-y vibe, err on the side of caution and send them back.

Here are my favorite vendors.

  • Pottery Barn – Pottery Barn has some darn great looking faux flowers and plants. Unfortunately, you have to remember to buy them in the spring and summer because for some weird reason they don’t have much in stock outside the warmer months. So buy them when you can.
faux cherry blossoms

Pottery Barn’s faux cherry blossoms are my favorite, especially paired with a red vase.

  • West Elm – West Elm doesn’t always stock faux plants either but when they do, they do a great job. Elegant, lithe, and slight artsy, they beckon “whether these are real or not, I still own the room.”
West Elm Privet Berry

With blackberries, these Chinese Privet Stems add instant drama displayed in a glass (put water in it for realism) vase or tucked into a full bouquet. Best of all, they’ll look fresh year-round. $14.99 from West Elm.

  • Olive and the Fox – This is perhaps my favorite vendor, to the point that I’m willing to pay pricey international shipping from the UK. However, when you factor in never having to buy flowers again (yippee!), the prices might pencil out. All Olive and Fox’s faux flowers are extremely realistic and can be molded to shape, mimicking the imperfections of real flowers. The stems can be either bent or cut down to size with a pair of garden secateurs. They are the Rolls Royce of faux.
vacation rental plants and flowers

Fox Flowers is one of my all-time favorite faux flower and plant vendors. Their Lady’s Mantle Green, paired with White Lilac, is multi-textured and will impart a handmade, cottagey feel to any Airbnb or vacation rental. Fox Flowers

3. Display your faux botanicals for maximum realism

  • Place your faux botanicals in chic containers. Just like real botanicals, faux plants need to be placed in beautiful vases. For the record, when I say “vase” I’m referring to any container that traditionally holds water. Bowls are vases, jam jars are vases, planters, pewter coffee pots, bottles, mason jars…you get the picture. Don’t ever put faux in something you wouldn’t put a real plant in (like a basket) or it will scream, “I’m a phony!” no matter how lifelike it may be.
  • If your vase is glass, put water in it. Faux plants don’t need water but water fools the eye into absolutely believing your faux friend is the real deal. No questions asked.
  • Error on the side of simplicity. The best arrangements are simple and unfussy. The goal is to make your botanicals look like you went into the backyard, picked some flowers and popped them in a vessel you saw.  Just letting the flowers (or fronds or branches) do their thing is the best bet. Bend some of them over as if they’ve wilted a little and you get that “flowers being flowers” vibe.
  • For maximum realism, mix your faux botanicals with the real deal. Adding some living fronds, sprigs and twigs to your faux beauties will ante up their realism. People will ooh and aah, never suspecting the truth, faux that it may be.

4. Thou shalt not allow your faux flowers to gather dust 

Like ever.

Don’t shrug off this last essential step or the whole shebang goes to pot. “Faux” turns into “fake” really quickly when dust gathers on your faux specimens, so take them out, give them a good rinse, shake off the water and stick ’em back where you found them.

You’re good to go!

That’s about all there is folks.

But if I forgot anything, let me know in the comments section below. Have any good faux sources you’d like to reveal? How about any faux arrangements you’d like to show off? Share away! Our community always appreciates it.




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