Choosing artificial flowers isn't always easy because they come in such a wide range and are made from a variety of materials, which all have their own advantages and disadvantages. We search the market to bring you the most realistic artificial flowers out there,
Artificial flowers can vary hugely in price which is primarily down to the quality of the raw materials used and the manufacturing process they under go. Producing artificial flowers is labour intensive and they are mainly imported into Britain from China and Thailand where labour costs are relatively cheap, but what can be a relatively cheap fresh cut flower to buy can be extremely pricey as an artificial replica due to base material used and the manufacturing process, like wise using artificial flowers can make quite a saving if the fresh blooms you have set your heart on are out of season, although as a general rule most artificial flower tend to be slightly cheaper than fresh flowers but this isn't always the case.
When buying artificial flowers spare a thought for the stems, which play a huge part in how realistic the flowers looks. All artificial flowers have wire stems, silk and latex flowers have theirs coated in plastic whereas foam flowers have taped wire stems and look better when placed in amongst others flowers where the stems can be hidden.
Here's the low down on what artificial flowers are available
The tradition of making silk flowers is hundreds of years old and is believed to have began in china but it wasn't until the 12th century that the knowledge found its way to Italy and developed into a business.
Silk flowers can look very realistic and are my preferred choice when designing and are always a very popular choice for the very reason they can look so real. although some good quality silk flowers can be expensive in relation to fresh blooms don't let this put you off, they last a lot longer !
In fact now a day's silk flowers are not usually made from silk at all but from a range of polyester rayon or cotton fabrics which allow the manufacturer to use specialist dyes and heat treatments producing detailing such as veins in leaves and petals. The stems also vary a lot in how real they look and range from thin dark green basic stems which are fine if you are going to use them some where the stems wont be seen, to more realistic fleshy stems, some stems have flocking applied such as a gerbera for example, roses can have thorns so that they better mimic a fresh bloom
Most fabric flowers we buy start out life as just plain white rayon and polyester and are dyed and cut into basic petal shapes, they are then put into moulds where heat is applied to give then a more realistic shape or form, they can then be hand finished adding further details and colours
as with a number of artificial flowers manufactured today coatings such as flocking or wax are applied, take a look at our velvet touch red roses these look very attractive and are a good likeness of a fresh deep red rose which also has a natural velvety texture.
One of the disadvantages with silk flowers as with all fabric is a tendency to fray although this isn't a major problem due to the heat applied in the manufacturing process and any fraying is usually at a minimum.
Silk flowers are available in such a wide range of varieties and shades they are well worth considering as an alternative to fresh blooms.
Picture showing a bouquet we made from real touch calla lilies
Latex flowers are manufactured from moulds taken of living plants and flowers, the latex flowers are then made from these, this means they are very realistic. Because latex is a liquid it highlights the veins in petals and the uneven outlines of flowers. The idea as with all artificial flowers is to make them look as realistic as possible, flaws and all, they are normally described as real touch or fresh touch by suppliers but this is not a trade name for latex flowers and its down to individual manufacturers which flowers they label as real touch.
They usually have thickish petals and realistic stems so look most convincing when made to resemble a fresh flower which also has fleshy petals. A limited range is usually available , but you'll find calla lilies, oriental lilies, orchids and roses and will have to look a little harder for other varieties although they are becoming more readily available.
not suitable to use in bouquets for people with latex allergies
Foam flowers are available in a good range of colours, the majority of these you'll find are usually roses although our supplier also stocks carnations peonies and calla lilies, roses range in size from dainty 2cm roses upto 10cm, they have wired and taped stems and no foliage, as with all artificial flowers and foliage quality can vary.
When foam flowers first arrived on the market they weren't always colourfast whereas now the majority are. but worth checking when making a purchase especially if using in bridal designs as the last thing you want is a stain on your best outfit.
I personally think they are best used mixed in with other flowers such as silk which helps to hide the stems as they aren't the most attractive and certainly not at all realistic, they are a very popular choice for buttonholes and are easy to work with. So if you have never worked with artificial or fresh flowers before they are a good choice, just make sure you hide the stems or bind them with ribbon if having a go at making up a wedding bouquet.
Pictures showing the quality of the plastic flowers we stock
Plastic flowers are usually associated with the basic brash flowers you find on some memorial wreaths at Christmas time, there is a place for them and they are perfect to use outside but they are certainly lacking in the realism stakes and we don't stock them or use them in arrangements or bouquets
We do stock however a range of quality plastic foliage and a small carefully selected range of flowers but we reserve this to flowers like lily of the valley, grape hyacinths and alliums, texture is very important and really contributes to the realism of any bloom, smaller clusters work best and look the most realistic because they can be produced with more detailing than is possible to achieve with silk flowers on the whole, plastic is also a good choice if a natural flower has a silky or waxy appearance where plastic also gives a more realistic appearance than the standard silk alternatives which has a dull matt finish.
The better quality plastic flowers will also have silk leaves, plus some foliage are given coatings such as flocking which works well for asparagus fern and foliage such as the silver coloured dusty miller which has a furry surface,
Plastic flowers and foliage have come a long way in the last few years and shouldn't be over looked, Don't use them as focal flowers best as fillers adding texture to any design