Choosing The Right Outdoor Silk Plants

Silk plants come in many shapes, sizes, styles, and price ranges, but there are other factors to consider when choosing silks for outdoor use.

Today, silk plants are more lifelike than ever, and they offer more options. Not only do they have more natural looking flowers and foliage, they also offer rich detail in the appearance of stems and branches. Since they are more natural looking and made of higher quality, lower maintenance materials, they are no longer just for interior d├ęcor. They are sturdy enough and natural looking enough to compliment outdoor designs as well.

The ability to withstand exposure has also been greatly improved. Some silk plants are even waterproof or UV stabilized. This protects them from shrinking, losing their shape, fading and deteriorating.

Silks are now available in almost any variety you can imagine, from vines, hanging plants, and flowering trees, to palms, flowers, shrubs, and everything in between.

With all the different options, it may be difficult to decide which ones are right for your outdoor decorating needs.


-While silk plants were first made of expensive and delicate Chinese silks, many of today's varieties are made of a polyester silk blend. The poly-silk blend is a sturdier variety that is far easier to care for, making this a good choice for outdoor use. Poly-silk plants can also be sprayed with a protective coating that will make water bead up instead of being absorbed. They can then be easily cleaned by simply spraying them with a garden hose (which has the added bonus of making your neighbors think you're "watering" your plants, and they'll never know they aren't real).

-Although "hand-wrapped" silks are often considered the best quality, they are not appropriate for outdoor use. Hand-wrapped means that the stems have been wrapped - by hand- with paper or floral tape. These coverings will absorb moisture which will cause the stems to deteriorate. Although some floral tape is waterproof, dampness will eventually seep in underneath the tape. This can cause mold or mildew. Choose flexible plastic or rubber stems instead.

-Some silk plants contain natural elements, such as natural trunks with artificial flowers or foliage. You may find an arrangement that is made of faux flowers, buds, and leaves, but also contains natural "fillers" such as dried baby's breath. Some potted arrangements contain Spanish moss. You should never use these or other "naturals" outdoors. Even though they are very beautiful, exposure is not kind to naturals. They can absorb moisture, mold and begin to rot, or they can become very brittle if exposed to heat and sunlight. Many naturals are dyed as well and once wet, that dye can drip on your porch or patio and create stains.

-You should also consider the leaf shape and color of the plants when creating an arrangement. Variety and contrast will add beauty, and also keep in mind that using specific plants when they are in season is the best way to make them seem real (for example: use silk tulips in the spring but not during winter months).

-Even the best quality silk plants will only last about two years outdoors, due to exposure. If you maintain them religiously you may get up to one more year of use. Since you will need to replace them every so often it is best to find the best quality at the lowest price. At the same time, don't go too "cheap," because you will have to replace them too frequently to consider them a good value. One idea is to find a good quality, moderately priced option and spray it with a protective coating yourself rather than opting for those that come with protective coatings. This is a good way to save money without sacrificing quality.

Silks are usually far easier to care for than live plants, and if you're not exactly a green thumb, you don't have to worry about them dying. They are made so well today that they can achieve the beauty and warmth that you desire, without the risk, expense, or upkeep associated with live plants.

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