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It’s okay to have fake plants – ANITH
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It’s okay to have fake plants

It’s okay to have fake plants


I came home from my holiday vacation feeling terrible about myself. 

The trip had been lovely, but I was exhausted from a twice-delayed flight and could feel the ominous soreness that precedes a cold coming on. I was anxious about my to-do list. My personal life was not exactly at its peak. And, of course, I had a classic case of post-vacation blues. 

As a consolation prize, I longed to go home to my beloved apartment, with its squishy couch, its soft blankets, and my beautiful two-year-old peace lily. I loved that plant, primarily because I’d spent so much time trying to figure out what kind of plant it was. (I inherited it from a former roommate who hadn’t known, either.) 

We’d been through a lot together, the peace lily and I — a lot of light levels and watering frequencies, at least — and I looked to it as a constant, hardy presence in my everyday life. Even when everything else sucked, and even if I guessed wrong on its favorite temperature, the peace lily’s waxy, enormous leaves still came out on top.

But when I walked into my bedroom, the peace lily was dead. Not just wilted or a little brown: dead. Murdered. Completely gone.

I was, predictably, devastated. I’d arranged for the plant to be cared for while I was gone, so I couldn’t figure out what had caused its untimely death. I concluded that I had made a mistake — I’d  left the apartment too hot, or too cold, or too wet, or too dry. I’d finally messed up, and now my plant was dead.

This made me feel even worse.

I’ll be honest: the experience made me feel so useless that it almost turned me off plants entirely. But a few weeks later, I bought an adorable miniature fern, and it’s doing great!

It’s also a polyester-silk blend.

I know, I know, I’ve betrayed the plant care community by adopting a fake (or faux, if you want to sound more artful) fern. But since I live in a residence cursed by sticky summers and dry, radiator-heavy winters, it’s the only way I can get the aesthetic of a plant-lover’s paradise without continuously risking my money and my self-esteem. 

For the most part, this is not what the plant care influencers would have you believe. To be sure, plant care can be a rejuvenating form of self-care, and it’s certainly touted as such. Keeping another living thing alive feels good, and filling your space with the fruits of your labor is nothing short of moving. But if you place so much of your self-worth in your ability to keep a plant thriving, what happens to that self-worth if the plant dies? What happens if it was beyond your control? What happens if you don’t know why?

Plants — real ones, mind you — are a huge part of digital lifestyle culture. They’re certainly all over Instagram, where they adorn the stylish apartments of one-succulent minimalists and tropical paradise maximalists alike. Plant care tips are everywhere. Last December, Mashable published a guide to the best plants to give as gifts, which is basically the gift equivalent to assigning someone a packet of leafy green homework.

Fake plants, then, provide a more accessible way into the plant décor community. Some are expensive, but that’s not the case for all of them — in fact, Amazon Prime has quite a few at reasonable prices. (If you want to get fancy, you always can.) 

And after you buy your fake plant, that’s it. You don’t need to buy plant food. You don’t need to repot. You don’t need to leave that sad corner of your apartment bare because it’s too dark to sustain life. You can do whatever you want! And that freedom is a form of self-care, too.

So will I ever adopt a real plant again? Probably. There’s nothing quite like nurturing a living thing into bloom. But will I feel bad about my adorable fake fern? No way, man. I love my fake fern. 

And I’m never going to come home to its corpse.

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Anith Gopal
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