Artificial flowers have a reputation for being tacky, dusty and obviously fake. So why, decades after they burst onto the interiors scene in the Seventies, are they in full fashionable bloom again?
As it turns out, this unexpected renaissance has less to do with rose-tinted nostalgia than it does modern developments in manufacturing technology, which make it tricky to tell the best fauxs from the real deal (just don’t try to sniff them).
Tell-tale tough plastic is out, replaced by hand-dyed silk and delicate synthetic materials that replicate the texture, colour gradation and intricate details of petals.
If you have the budget, it’s worth investing in quality artificial flowers will last you years with good care. Keep the edges from yellowing by displaying them out of direct sunlight. Dust them using a hairdryer on low and carefully wipe them clean.
Steer clear of any that are fraying and choose brands that handcraft each stem individually, mimicking the variety seen in nature.
Malleable wire running through the stems and leaves allows you to bend and style your fauxs into an artistic arrangement. Save money by bulking out natural bouquets with fauxliage, or use it to decorate elsewhere around your home.
Indulge your creative side by mixing and matching species that may not grow in the same season naturally. Fauxs are also pollen free; welcome news for allergy sufferers and pet owners (flowers such as lilies and tulips can be poisonous to animals).
Our picks of the artificial bunch have been closely examined before recommendation, so you can rest assured your guests will never know your secret, and there’s even something decent for all budgets.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Made from a mix of the finest silk and synthetic materials, design-led British brand Oka’s flowers are the go-to for interior stylists and celebrities. This glorious bouquet of pastel pink dicentra, burgundy ranunculus and delicate roses will be a surefire hit for any gift, with the added surprise of finding out they last forever earning you extra brownie points.
Fat-headed blooms packed with expertly-dyed petals are offset by closed buds and others that have only just begun to unfurl, making for a brilliant deception that adds instant class with its cleverness. There is a variety of heights and textures, the array of leaves are convincing and some stems even have prickly plastic thorns. The only drawback is that all you want to do is stick your nose in and breathe in their scent. Try adding a few drops of oil or burning a floral-fragranced candle nearby.
If you want to surprise a special someone but think roses would be too much, we recommend this classy bouquet from independent Shropshire boutique Wyld Home. The dainty gypsophila is extremely realistic – a tough feat to pull off when the real flowers are so delicate – the purple ranunculus add a pop of colour and it is refreshing to see so much attention paid to the leaves, all of which have different textures from waxy to velvety, and are shaped as they would be if plucked from the hedges. Each arrangement is custom-made and hand-tied, with the stems wired for further personalisation. Delivery is free. You can also buy over 80 stems separately – this range is particularly good if you want to create a natural looking wild flower arrangement.
This bestselling stem from maximalist hero Abigail Ahern is a strong staple to add to your collection as it looks lovely paired with anything, from more flamboyant flora to understated foliage. Hand-painted fabric has been attached to resin stems that can be put in water to ramp up the illusory effect. Despite this, Abigail recommends popping your flowers into an opaque glass to hide the “distracting” stems and maximise the impact of the blooms. She suggests stocking up on flowers of one type or colour if you are daunted by the prospect of arranging. Though not cheap at £14 a pop, these hydrangeas would look fantastic tumbling over a vase on mass as a centrepiece, their dainty-looking yet sturdy heads promising to fool guests.
Hong Kong and London-based Amaranthine Blooms has an impressive selection of high-quality stems. Amid its 100-strong range, the variety of greenery and foliage stands out, as well as its flowers in colours less common in the faux world, such as the blue agapanthus. Natural looking leaves and stems are free from that tell-tale plastic shine. The delicate, veined petals on the flowers are some of the most realistic we’ve seen and soft wires make stems easy to style. Amaranthine also offers bunches of six stems and bouquets if you need a helping hand with your display.
Beaten in the romance stakes only by the rose, pretty peonies have long been a firm favourite of flower lovers. These faux versions look every bit as delicate as the real deal but thankfully do not drop their petals at the slightest touch. The pliable stems are long at over 70cm, making them perfect for displaying in your favourite tall vase. For appreciated authenticity, subtle hints of peach, red and green have been added to the edges of outer petals, one of each stem’s blooms is closed, and there is a generous helping of believably veined leaves. Together, they create a chic burst of merriment to brighten a rainy day.
Dramatise your interiors by picking up one of these moody dahlia stems from British company Bloom. Founder Tiffany Davies discovered the “new generation” of silk flowers on a trip to California and set about making her own in 1999. She claims they are “so realistic they even fool bees” and it’s easy to see why. Skillfully handmade, each petal has subtly different colouring, with no giveaway fraying off the edges. The unwired, plasticky-looking stem is a slight disappointment but for £7, with a 3-for-2 offer currently running online, it is a top option for the price and the blooms themselves are beautiful. Stock up on a selection of colours – peachy cream, blood red and hot coral are also available – and arrange them in a coloured vase to hide the stems.
Sometimes simplicity is best, so make a statement with a cloud of faux pussy willow. Three stems, each with four springs, are included in the price, but we recommend doubling up for real impact, especially if positioning it against a darkly-painted wall. The fluffy grey buds are fabulously tactile and the stems – among the most authentic on test – are long enough to add height and structure to any bouquet. They can be trimmed to your desired size with wire cutters if you are short on space.
Born and raised in Thailand, Krititka quit her full-time job in 2016 to pursue her passion for artisanal handicrafts. Her first range for charming new venture Posy & Pot is paper flowers, handmade by fairly-paid craftswomen in her homeland using local sustainable material (mulberry weed tree, which farmers must get rid of) and traditional dying techniques. Each bendable, trimmable stem is entirely unique and so flawlessly produced it is hard to pull your eyes away from the artistic talent on display. Her elegant vintage roses are a favourite, as are the stunning white cherry blossoms. Remember that paper and water don’t get on, so keep them safe from moisture. Krititka’s marvellous bouquets start from £72.
For a display that looks like it’s just been plucked from the hedgerows, look no further than Fox Flowers’ dazzlingly realistic range of fauxs. We love these new blue sky beauties – also available in white – with their feathery, moss-like leaves. Though expensive at just under a tenner for one stem with three sprigs, the quality can’t be questioned. The stems are quick and easy to trim and mould to suit the style you’re after. They look gorgeous on their own but are also a smart choice for bulking up other real or artificial bunches. They arrive charmingly wrapped in hessian. Try pairing them with the yellow buttercups and white hydrangeas, and note that Fox Flowers stock a show-stopping poinsettia come Christmas, too.
If your fingers are anything but green, head to The Flower Studio, a buzzy florist found in the Buckinghamshire town of Marlow, where this handsome bouquet of faux roses, rich red chrysanthamums and blackberry stems has been designed and handmade by artisan florists. The mouldable stems allow you to create your own arrangement but these come already presented in a country-style upcycled jam jar. This is a great value for money buy.
These fauxs cost £1 a pop, so leave your expectations of anything close to Oka’s quality at the door. That said, while it’s a challenge to find cheap artificial flowers that don’t look ridiculous, these don’t. The little gypsophila petals have a persuasively fragile look to them and the hot pink colour is bright enough to distract from the dodgy stems and leaves. It’d look pretty in a rustic style glass bottle on a shelf – just maybe one high enough to keep guests from getting a close-up.
Seekers of the personal touch will be in raptures over these boutique paper anemones, lovingly handcrafted from luxury crepe paper by botanical artist Bee Watson. Our sample brought a huge smile to our faces, both on account of the presentation (it arrived undamaged, poking out of old-fashioned brown paper) and the sheer artistry of the petals, inspired by the flowers grown in Bee’s Devonshire garden. They feel robust, holding their shape, and the stems bend for customisable display. The flowers can be made with removable pods of wildflower seeds at their centres, for you to sow and mark a memory. Bee also makes anemones, sunflowers, gerberas, succulents and wedding bouquets. They’re pricey, but you’re rightly paying for her skill, and they live forever.
If you can afford a bunch of Oka’s finest fauxs, it’s hard to beat the sheer wow factor a bouquet will bestow upon your home without a mega splurge. For those with tighter pursestrings, Bloom offers excellent value for money with an extensive range of impressively realistic stems to choose from, while the handmade paper delights offered by Posy & Pot are perfect for heartfelt gifts – and do good at the same time.
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