Solved! Do Fake Plants Really Provide the Same Health Benefits as Living Plants?

When choosing real versus fake plants for home décor, you may be surprised to learn what really provides the health boost.

By Sandi Schwartz | Published Oct 31, 2022 3:10 PM

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fake plants plastic pot with plastic bush tree

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Q: Taking care of real plants can be hard work, so I’m considering artificial plants instead. But will I lose the health benefits of greenery if I choose to decorate my home with fake plants?

A: Including house plants in interior design not only provides an attractive and welcoming ambience, but it also has a positive impact on both the health and well-being for those in the home. Various properties of plants—such as how they look, smell, and feel—stimulate the senses in positive ways. Even fake plants or fake trees can offer some of these benefits.

All things considered, authentic plants will always provide more health benefits than artificial greenery. However, there still are some pros of faux plants to keep in mind. Compromise may be key to deciding how you decorate your home. Selecting a mix of real and artificial plants is a perfectly reasonable option.

RELATED: The Best Fake Plants for Home Decor

The visual appeal of both help reduce stress and improve mood.

The therapeutic benefits of plants and flowers have been recognized for many years. Research done in hospitals, offices, and schools proves that even a single plant in a room can reduce stress, anxiety, blood pressure, and pain while also improving mood. Much of these benefits are from observing the beauty of the greenery and flowers. For starters, green is a soothing color that evokes a serene and healthy environment. Plants and flowers also contain fractal patterns, naturally occurring repetitive patterns that are aesthetically pleasing and calming.

Interestingly, health benefits can result from both real and fake plants. Even looking at pictures of plants can help you feel happier and calmer, so it’s no wonder that artificial plants can also do the trick. What’s more, faux plants used to have a bad reputation for looking obviously fake with stringy leaves and thick plastic. But now there are high-quality products that appear lifelike and natural.

That being said, a recent study tested the physical and mental health benefits of an actual plant compared to an artificial one and found that real plants lead to more relaxation than artificial plants, photographs of plants, or no plants at all.

fake plants living room with fake plants

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It’s impossible to ‘stop and smell the roses’ with faux plants. 

In addition to the visual appeal of plants, their naturally occurring fragrance has been shown to make us feel better. Numerous scientific studies prove that plant scents impact the parts of the brain that process smell, memory, and emotion. These scents can affect us physiologically and mentally, improving mood, increasing alertness, reducing stress and anxiety, and even lowering blood pressure. Of course, this is not possible with fake plants.

The types of flowers and plants known to bring soothing aromas to a home include aloe, jasmine, rose, chamomile, and lavender. With over 600 varieties, mint is considered a natural energizer with its robust scent that helps enhance mood and memory. Lemon scent is also considered an effective mood booster, so be sure to add some lemon trees, lemon verbena, and lemon balm to the mix.

RELATED: 11 Fragrant Plants for Creating the Ultimate Aromatherapy Garden

Only real plants can help purify the air.

A major plus of all-natural plants is their incredible ability to clean the air. Indoor air quality can be a real health concern, with contaminants seeping into a home from machinery, furniture, paint, cleaning products, the fireplace, and outdoor pollution. Through photosynthesis, live plants filter the air and reduce carbon dioxide, indoor ozone, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulate matter. This helps keep homeowners healthy and prevents sick building syndrome, which can trigger various health issues. Chrysanthemums are known as the superstar air purifier, able to absorb VOCs including formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia, and trichloroethylene that are found in many household products.

Additional characteristics of real plants can help people feel happier and calmer. First, they produce oxygen, which is invigorating. In addition, they give off aromatic chemicals called phytoncides that have been found to reduce stress hormones and relax the brain. These natural oils are part of a tree or plant’s defense system to help it stay alive by protecting itself from bacteria, fungi, and insects.

Since fake plants can’t provide these advantages, this is an important consideration when deciding which type to buy for your home.

RELATED: The 9 Best Places to Buy Fake Plants

But what about allergies? 

For allergy sufferers, fake plants can be an attractive option. Allergens like pollen from flowers and plants can trigger sneezing, watery eyes, rashes, and other uncomfortable symptoms. In addition to being allergy-free, faux plants are easier to maintain with no watering, fertilizing, or trimming is required. There’s no need to worry about pests or disease with artificial plants either. They can be placed anywhere in the house (even spots that don’t get any sunlight), and there’s no clean up necessary since they don’t drop flowers and leaves.

RELATED: The 8 Worst Houseplants for People with Allergies

fake plants three fake plants in kitchen

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If you opt for artificial, choose the most realistic plants possible.

While artificial plants don’t provide all the health advantages of natural ones, seeing them does result in similar psychological benefits that come with viewing green, leafy plants. Some of the best fake plants to liven up home décor include ferns, ficus, palms, succulents, and olive trees.

The most important point to remember when picking out faux plants is to choose those that look most like the real thing. Consider material, size, and how realistic the plant’s detail and texture look. Real leaves, for example, tend to have small holes from insect bites and varying color gradation, shapes, and vein patterns. A plant without any imperfections is a dead giveaway that it is fake. Also, people will reach out to see what the plant feels like, and if it is hard or plasticky, they will know it’s not real. Go for newer technologies like soft-touch processing and “real touch” that have a more genuine velvety texture.