It's nice to think you can have fresh flowers in your staged home every time prospective buyers come by for a tour. But let's get real.

Fresh flowers, for all their magic, have certain drawbacks.

They have a short lifespan, and it's simply not economical to replace them weekly.

They take a bit of finessing to make them look good when you bring them home, and to continue looking perky through the week.

Who has time and money for that? Especially when you can use faux flowers and plants that have the same impact?

I think we all know that natural elements like plants add personality and a quality of genuineness to interior decor. They bring a room to life.

But no one said those plants and flowers have to be living specimens!

Compare the costs 

A bunch of flowers at supermarkets where I live costs about $4, and usually three bunches for $12. An ordinary bouquet might run between $10 and $30. Not too bad. But how about longevity? If you take good care of them, they might last the week.

I can spend the same amount of money and get flowers that last forever. I know what you are thinking -- that they look cheap and artificial, but that all depends on what you choose and how you use them. 

These are silk lilies from Hobby Lobby. 

These are lilies I cut from my garden.

Consider the advantages

The lilies I gathered from my flower garden come up every springtime, They are fragrant, with strong stems and lovely soft colors. But after a few days in a vase, they can drop pollen. The water needs refreshing and sometimes petals curl or fall.

The silk lilies I purchased for staging are a different story. They are literally carefree and can be packed away for months and another use. Their stems are flexible so I can arrange them and they will stay put, especially in a container with dry floral foam to hold them.

I've ruined more than one piece of furniture when condensation or overflow from "plant care" left a stain. You too?

If you buy supermarket bouquets, the flowers in any one $4 bunch are usually assorted, and probably not all the various colors you want for staging. You need a more monochromatic look, or at least a limited palette. With silks, you can have it your way -- choosing exactly the colors you want to work with.

There is another advantage to using artificials. It has to do with allergies. When strangers are touring your home on the market, some of them may be allergic to real flowers -- either the scent or the pollen. So, using silks is playing it safe.

Keep a variety of different varieties of faux flowers, all in the color palette you are using
for staging, and you'll have more fun and success making interesting arrangments. Photo: Rtfact

These are my favorites

I like to use florals that are in season -- tulips, forsythia, and crocus in spring; daisies and dahlias all summer; and amaryllis and poinsettias in winter. Orchids rein all year.

Nonflowering florals are just as refreshing for home staging. Succulents, ferns, and boxwood topiaries are always winners. They look good in any room, at any time of the year and in almost any kind of container. Today's palms and fiddle leaf fig trees are a blessing to home stagers needing to fill large spaces.

The best sources

The best places to find silk flowers depends on how you will use them. If you want to make a statement and it will be seen up close, splurge a little and get quality silks. You can order from this popular online floral supplier, or shop Hobby Lobby and Michael's. Individual stems will cost between two and nine dollars. If you are going to place the flowers or plant on top of a bookcase, on the wall over a bed, or another unreachable place, look for more budget sources, even dollar stores. I've blogged about how to find bargain faux flowers.

The stems on these tulips looked cheap and didn't look anything like authentic
tulip stems. With the wire stems shortened and hidden, and the silks arranged in
a tight cluster, these blooms are more likely to pass for the real thing. 

Secrets to success

Especially if you stage with less expensive silks, make them look as natural as possible. Here are 14 ways to do that.

1. Arrange them in handsome or interesting containers, ones with tradition, style and pedigree. Every professional stager has a collection of floral containers. Imitate that plan, and when you know your house will be listed, keep your eye out for beautiful containers and vases. They are everywhere!

2. Make some of the stems on any arrangement shorter than others to avoid that "manufactured look." Use wire cutters (not the good ones you use for making jewelry, or your scissors) to cut a few stems on fake greens and flowers shorter than others. Alternatively, you can often bend the stems at the base to shorten them and bend them midway to make them look more realistic. 
3. You can also cut apart floral clusters so you have more flexibility arranging the stems instead of being limited to how they came off the assembly line. 
4. On many florals, you can push sets of leaves up the stem to make the flower look more realistic and interesting.

These daisies on wire stems came from the dollar store.
The leaves are attached low on the stem. 
I snipped off the stems to make them shorter, and slid the leaves up towards the "flowers" to make this cozy bedside arrangement.
5. Clear glass containers usually don't work for florals unless you use fake water or glass marbles to stabilize the stems and further the illusion. I find that opaque vessels are more practical and versatile.

6. Keep artificial flowers and greenery clean. This is especially important on large, flat leaves that will show dust. It's easy to dunk them in water or hold them under the shower and let them drain until dry.

The blue and yellow color pattern in this arrangement repeats
the colors predominating in the room. Photo:

7. Create arrangements that have varied and interesting textures. Incorporate artificial berries, seed pods, ferns, and fluffy flowers as well as smooth ones. Fill in gaps with reindeer moss or sphagnum moss. 
8. Cheap greenery used outdoors will often turn a pale, ugly green. You don't want your outdoor foliage to look like cemetery leftovers! Outdoors, plant real plants. 

A small amount of acrylic water makes all the difference. These pink silk peonies look terrific alone or in combination with other florals and greens. Photo: Afloral

9. Use acrylic water that mimics the real thing when your arrangement is in a glass container. Once you use simulated water in a container, the container can't be reused. You could instead use river rocks or marbles to anchor your floral stems.
10. Avoid fake flowers that don't bear much resemblance to what they imitate. Look closely when buying and compare in your mind to what the real flower looks like. Don't buy ones with stiff plastic stamens in the center.

Your silks will look more natural when clustered with other objects. Don't be afraid to combine assorted flowers in your arrangements, keeping a harmonious color scheme. 

11. Make your artificial creations a part of a staged area instead of a major point of interest. For example, instead of one vase of flowers centered on a kitchen island or dining table, use it as just one element of a fireplace mantle staging, or a bedside table display, or bar cart staging. 
12. If the stems of your inexpensive silk flowers don't look convincing, it's better to hide them in the arrangement by making a tight flower cluster, or by filling in with faux greenery. 
13. Match the style of your plants and arrangements to the style of your home. A casual pitcher of sunflowers is perfect for a country dining room, not the right choice for a formal entryway in a grand foyer. 
14. It's good to have some dry floral foam on hand to help you keep the stems where you want them when you are doing your arranging. Buy foam at the dollar store. 

Get the look, get the book 

Whether you are making your home market-ready, or just tweaking it to make it more stylish, my eBooks on home decor and staging will make it easy, step by step! Clicking on the link will take you to a page on this site that lists what each book contains. You're just two clicks away from placing your order and receiving any of the three books.