Artificial Plants Have Lifelike Look

Permanent Silk Arrangments Last "Forever"; Peruse the Vast Selection at

CLEVELAND, OH., April 22, 2011 - Anyone who has come across quality silk flowers in the past few years probably has been surprised at how real they've come to look.  Oftentimes, touching these flowers and foliage arrangements is the only way to be sure they were made in a factory and are not of the earth.

Colors, whether soft and subtle or bold and bright, are true to life. Green leaf and vine accents carry the shade and texture of having been grown and picked, not molded. Manipulated nubs on stems do even more to enhance the appearance of freshness. In fact, quality silk flowers -- emphasis on quality -- are no longer called fake or even the fancier name -- faux flowers. They are now known as "permanent botanicals."

"I had a gentleman pick up an arrangement, and after I wrote it up for delivery, he asked how long would it [the arrangement] last," says Lynn Metzger, a designer at 12th Street Florist in downtown Cleveland. "I told him indefinitely. He didn't realize it wasn't real." 12th Street Florist mostly sells fresh flowers, but it and other florists occasionally get requests for imitations, such as when a hospital patient is allergic or can't have fresh plants in the room.

Tim Hennessy is co-founder of Petals, which specializes in permanent arrangements that can be delivered across the country.  Silk flowers once really were made of silk, but the silk didn't hold color well and frayed easily, Hennessy says. Today's artificial flowers are silk-like, or polysilk. They're made from synthetic fibers that are heat-pressed into molds resembling live petals, leaves, grasses, stems and bark.Once the plants have been molded, each is hand-painted, and arrangements are created by artists at the company's Cincinnati facility. Many Petals designs come in a vase with "crystal-clear acrylic water," which creates the illusion of fresh-cut stems in water.


Artificial arrangements can be expensive, running as high as $350. Michaels stores, Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts, and Pat Catan's Craft Centers are great places to find less-expensive silks, especially for those who have a knack for do-it-yourself flower arranging.  Doug Hopeman owns in Natick, Mass. His company also delivers artificial arrangements in gorgeous containers across the country.  Hopeman says some of the benefits of silk flowers are that they are hypoallergenic and long-lasting. And they're easy to care for, needing little more than a quick dusting now and then.  With silk flowers, you don't have to deal with stale water, the re-cutting of stems or the possibility of bugs. creates custom arrangements, Hopeman says. Customers can send in a photo of a room, and the company's designers come up with an arrangement that suits the decor.

Fresh-flower experts will probably beg to differ, but Hennessy maintains that silk flowers are more eco-friendly than fresh. Most fresh-cut flowers are flown in from South America and Holland, leaving a massive carbon footprint from airplane emissions. What's more, many fresh-cut flowers are sprayed with pesticides.

But not even Hopeman or Hennessy would argue that although silks can last indefinitely, there's nothing like fresh flowers to brighten, enliven and send a nice fragrance through a room.  "I'm not dissing fresh flowers at all," Hennessy says, laughing. "I wouldn't want to. I love working in my garden."