If there's somewhere in your home that needs livening up but it's not practical to use real plants, consider using faux flowers and greenery.
And don't worry about it.
Decorators, or maybe your mother, used to tell you to skip the fake stuff if you wanted to stay classy. But improved manufacturing and materials are giving artificial plants and silk flowers a fresh reputation.
"The technology has come a long way. They look so real now it's hard to tell," says Kathie Chrisicos, designer and president of Boston-based Chrisicos Interiors.
When you're shopping for faux, pay attention to detail. Manufactured plants and flowers should have the variations in color, texture and density that live plants do, including the look of new growth and old growth, says Doug Hopeman, owner of the Nashville, Tenn.-based Artificial Plants and Trees. Visible stems, branches and trunks should appear realistic.
"The ability to create the minute, intricate detail of everything about the plants and trees helps make them more natural looking than they were 10 years ago," he says.
You can choose from an array of products. People often choose real plants that aren't native to their region, so don't feel limited to the varieties found near you when buying artificial ones, says Jo Pearson, a creative expert with Michaels Stores.
"When it comes to creativity, there is no right or wrong way to choose," she says. "The great thing is that artificial flowers and plants offer the flexibility to choose what you want when you want, regardless of the season or your region."
Current trends in greenery include palms and succulents, as well as potted herbs such as lavender and rosemary, and small leafy plants and ivies. Peonies, mums, dahlias, sunflowers and hydrangeas are among popular silk florals.
Artificial plants are easy to manipulate. You can bend stems and branches to make them reach toward natural light or fit into a certain space or container, and then change it up so it doesn't always look the same.
"I've had people tell me my plant was really growing when, in fact, I'm just repositioning it occasionally," Pearson says.
To arrange petals, stems and foliage on artificial products, check out photos of live plants online.
For Stephanie Norris, the designer behind San Diego-based Cre8tive Designs Inc., using faux plants requires choosing the right containers, and accessories such as real soil, sand and stones.
"It's a little more texture," she says. "It's dressing it up, which is really the finishing touch with using an artificial plant."
Some homeowners mix artificial greenery into their landscaping in areas where live plants don't thrive.
"It's that side of your house that has no light, and every season you're putting new topiaries out there," Hopeman says. "That's the perfect opportunity for an artificial plant."
Norris says she mixes artificial with live plants at her home for a lusher look. Among her favorites are small boxwoods sold by IKEA.
Because you don't have to prune, water or fertilize faux foliage and florals, they're perfect for people who don't have a green thumb, who travel a lot or who have allergies.
"While we all love real plants, sometimes real plants just aren't practical," Pearson says.
Keeping artificial plants looking their best usually requires no more than dusting or wiping with a damp cloth. Many can be rinsed off in the shower or outdoors with a hose on a gentle setting.
You'll want to replace faux plants whenever you see signs of fading.
Hopeman says faux plants are a great choice for a drab or dark area where nothing will grow.
"And, of course, you should still buy your wife fresh flowers," he adds.