Fake Plants: Better than No Greenery at All

January 25, 2019 GMT
Artificial greenery is better than no plants at all, and in some cases, as in this bouquet at a gas station in Big Springs, Neb., the replicated plants can appear quite realistic.
Artificial greenery is better than no plants at all, and in some cases, as in this bouquet at a gas station in Big Springs, Neb., the replicated plants can appear quite realistic.

My husband asked me a question the other day that I could not readily answer. He said “do you think fake plants have the same benefits as real plants?” He was referring to my studies in horticulture therapy. I had to tell him that I did not know.

Simply having nature nearby has been proven to provide a host of benefits. These include emotional, physiological, and psychological aspects. But does a fake plant count?

I had difficulty locating research-based information on this topic, so I ventured into the internet at-large to determine my opinion on this subject.

First up was an online article from Rolling Nature that brought up some interesting points in favor of live plants: rollingnature.com/blogs/news/live-vs-artificial-plants-the-real-one-wins

Live plants increase oxygen and can act as air purifiers. The Rolling Nature article states there is an emotional quotient with live plants also. They say “they are fresh and we care for them like a little one.” The author continues that having live plants in the workplace can reduce sick building syndrome. They also cite a study cited that says by “looking at decorative plants in their hospital rooms, patients recovering from surgery were reported to have lower blood pressure and less, pain, anxiety, and distress.”

I would think the last point might apply to artificial plants as well. In another article titled “Green is good for you,” that I found on the American Psychological Association’s website, Terry A. Hartig, PhD, MPH did an interesting study.

Dr. Hartig showed people “photographs of a forested area and downtown Stockholm and found that the forest slides boosted people’s mood:” apa.org/monitor/apr01/greengood.aspx

From TLC Landscaping Guide’s website, they share these additional benefits of fake plants. There are no seasonal changes. They do not drop flowers or leaves. Other than occasional washing, they look good year round. You don’t have to fertilize or water fake plants. You also don’t have to worry about pests or disease. You don’t need a sunny window and you can place artificial plants anywhere: tlcliteracy.org/benefits-of-artificial-plants

There are good points on both sides of the discussion of live versus artificial plants. In my home, we have both. Living with cats and dogs my entire life, I have learned that live plants cannot be placed anywhere our four legged friends could possibly eat them.

In our house, the live plants are either hanging from the ceiling or secured behind a closed door. The artificial plants, on the other hand, are placed on counters, shelves and mantles.

If it weren’t for our furry friends, I would vote for live over artificial any day. I will say though I really enjoy the fake plants though. They require very little maintenance. I think from a psychological standpoint that viewing even a replicate of a live plant is beneficial. I smile when I notice the artificial herbs I have on my kitchen counter. My personal decision is this: a fake plant is better than no plant at all.

Kelley Rawlsky has an M.S. in horticulture and is the director of Bringing People and Plants Together, an organization dedicated to bringing horticulture education and therapy to the community. For more information: PeopleAndPlantsTogether @gmail.com or follow us on Facebook.