The Strange World of Artificial Plants

Ikea’s Fejka.

On a recent pilgrimage to Ikea, I ended up staring at a large display of fake plants while Mrs. Root Simple found a replacement for our kitten-shredded drapes. Viewed from a distance Ikea’s plastic plants were realistic, though seemingly outside of any known plant genus. I found myself pondering the question of what permacultural context in which these plastic plants would be an appropriate design solution. I couldn’t answer my own question. More plastic and less living things in our lives is probably not a good idea. But I am willing to consider a very limited use of artificial turf–neighbor Anne Hars once showed me Home Depot’s astonishing selection of fake grass–some that even has fake dead grass mixed in for realism. Perhaps in some ironic post-modern house this artificial turf could fit in.

It did remind me of the time a neighbor, who is a Hollywood art director, grabbed me late one evening to help her fake a vegetable garden for a movie. From her I that learned that their are businesses in Hollywood that do nothing other than provide fake plants. Not just flowers, but everything from corn to . . . hemp.

Having a bad year with your tomatoes? Green Set Inc. will set you up with some fake ones:

They even have a very large (and suspiciously shiny) fake zucchini:

But I think my favorite fake plants come from a company called New Image Plants, providers of  “The World’s Best Artificial Marijuana.” Customers? Marijuana dispensaries, the set decorator for Weeds and law enforcement! From their website:

Across the world law enforcement finds itself with the continuous dilemma of having to train new recruits to identify and find illegal marijuana plants . . . Our plants are used by many police departments across the world, the US Military and the Royal Mountain Police in Canada to name just a few.

Be forewarned that the bush above, complete with realistic buds, is a $325 gag gift for the gardener in your life. For some reason I would love to sneak one of these into my dentist’s waiting room.

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10 Comments

  1. Ever seen the amazing glass flowers at the Harvard Natural History Museum? They were made so that botanists could study the plants without having them wilt or die so quickly. Glass is probably better than plastic in most applications.

    I might put one of these in our garden, to inspire the others.

    • tworose–thanks for the tip–would love to see those. Reminds me of the 3d x-rays of flowers at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in LA.

  2. I would love to see that at my dentist’s office! Although I would feel a bit slighted when they only offered N2O to calm my nerves….
    Also, that zucchini picture made me nauseous.

  3. I have a 7.5 ft fake tree in the kitchen. People always ask me what it is. No one knows, not even the guy who made it.

    That was probably a silk plant you were looking at.

    A fake tomato bush is just what I need!

  4. The house across the street from the school I work in has astro-turf. Not just fake grass, but the super-obvious plastic turf grass. All across the whole front lawn. The joins are obvious and the corners curl up a little bit if you look closely. Nobody ever walks on it, no children play on it (the whole yard is actually raised up from the sidewalk a ways). It’s just that the owner decided that having living grass was too much to manage.

    • UCLA did an interesting study on how people use their yards. It turns out they don’t–maybe 5 minutes a week. So your neighbor is pretty typical. It’s a shame considering how many people would like to garden but don’t have any land to call their own.

  5. I grew up near the city in Canada that houses the Saskatchewan Roughriders (most loved team in Canada). When the astro-turf was replaced at the local stadium, a friend of the family snatched some of the old turf up for his lawn. He now has well loved astro-turf covering the sections of his lawn that aren’t garden. We’re still debating whether it adds or detracts from his curb appeal.

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