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Photo: Pawel Czerwiński (Unsplash)

It’s time I turn myself in: I am guilty of my plants.

Not in a burgeoning serial killer of humans kind of way, but more in a “plants are nice but I don’t fundamentally understand how to care for them” way. In fact, I love plants! Especially living in a city, I have an intense appreciation for anything green and growing — it provides a very soothing contrast to all the pollution and concrete. And yet, it is this love of plants that has ultimately turned me into a killer. My plant body count includes eight succulents, one aloe plant, a whole bunch of basil.


I am deeply embarrassed about my inability to keep a plant alive, and more than that, I’m utterly horrified and traumatized by my extended plant massacre. Houseplants might be supposed improve your mood, but dying houseplants have the exact opposite effect. I swear, there are studies on this. (There aren’t.)

Alas, they say if you love something, you should set it free, and that’s why I’ve given up on owning houseplants. Instead I’ve had to make do with non-living plant substitutes that are not silk flowers; those are just as depressing as dead plants. Luckily, I’ve been able to trick myself into feeling nearly as much delight when I look at the following plant alternatives as I do when I glimpse a real plant.

Kikkerland Potted Pen Stand, $11

Kikkerland Potted Plant Stand | $11 | Amazon
Image: Amazon

If you have pens and you like plants, stick this guy on your desk. It’s much more exciting then shoving all your writing utensils in a drawer, and much less pressure than staring at a plant, wondering if it’s about to kick the bucket, while you’re trying to work.

Mini Green Desert Succulent Plant-Shaped Candles, Set of 4, $15

Assortment of 4 Mini Succulent Plant Shaped Candles | $15 | Amazon
Graphic: Chelsea Stone

As previously mentioned, succulents were my number one victim of choice back in my plant-murdering days. But these cute little succulent-shaped tea lights can exist in my home without fear of death — well, unless I ever decide to light them.

Wool Pom Pom Flowers, $22.50 for 15

Wool Pom Pom Flowers | $22.50 for 15 | Berry Island | Etsy
Image: berryisland (Etsy)

Flowers are even more uplifting then a typical plant, in my humble opinion, but they also have a much shorter lifespan (for me personally, that’s veering into negative lifespan territory). But these wool substitutes by Etsy shop Berry Island make me just as happy. They come in a multitude of color combinations, and — bonus! — they have been bestowed with the gift of eternal life. Mine live in a vase shaped like a cactus, and I like them very very much.

Tropical Desert Cactus Vase, $14

Time Concept Tropical Desert Cactus Vase | $17 | Amazon
Graphic: Chelsea Stone

Speaking of a vase shaped like a cactus, this one from Amazon looks almost realistic on its own, and even better when filled with a bloom (fake or real, if you insist) of your choosing. And even though an actual cactus would technically be pretty hard to kill, they won’t hesitate to lash out at you with a needle poke. Might as well stick with this safe ceramic one.

Pressed Floral 9x15 Frame, $24

Pressed Floral 9x15 Frame | $24 | Urban Outfitters
Image: Urban Outfitters

If your style is a little more authentic, this frame of pressed flowers encased in glass is a solid option. Pressed and/or dried flowers are already dead, so no pressure to keep them alive. This particular piece looks lovely leaning up against a window, or lay it down flat and use it as a decorative display tray.

Bamboo Shower Curtain, $20

Kikkerland Shower Curtain, Bamboo | $20 | Amazon
Graphic: Chelsea Stone

Forget individual plants; transform your bathroom into a forest. This shower curtain instantly transports you to a bamboo paradise, where you can take in the soothing nature scenes while you get clean.

iEGrow LED Desk Lamp, $12

iEGrow Flexible USB Touch LED Desk Lamp | $12 | Amazon
Image: Amazon

It may look like a plant, but it’s actually a lamp. Light up your desk with nature-ish gadget, that also happens to be rechargeable, touch sensitive, and has a dimmer. Plus, the stem is bendy. That’s photosynthesis on another level.

Moss Wall Art, $50

Wall Decor Moss Art | $50 | Etsy
Photo: reinmosss (Etsy)

I know this is supposed to a list of plant alternatives, but this moss is more art than plant anyway. It requires literally no care — you’re not even supposed to water it or put it near the sun — simply hang it up, keep it away from heat, and enjoy the real live greenery without all the hassle. But if it does somehow manage to die, that’s on you, buddy.

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