Living Walls vs Artificial Walls—Why Fake Plants Will Never Beat The Real Thing

December 2, 2021 Tom Luck

Quite literally a fast growing trend, living walls are transforming our homes, gardens and urban spaces with more than just gorgeous greenery. Among a long list of benefits, living walls increase biodiversity, clean the air we breathe and boost our physical and mental health. 

An alternative to living walls is artificial walls—green walls that imitate real plants, but without any of their benefits. For some people, especially those who travel often, artificial walls and fake plants might seem like the only option, since neither requires any human attention. However, living walls like PlantBox are able to overcome most plant care issues while providing many more benefits.

Before we compare the benefits of living walls and artificial walls, let’s first take a look at the benefits of real plants and artificial plants.

Real plants can…

Clean the air you breathe

Real plants absorb high levels of nasty pollutants which they then turn into food to help them grow. Within 24 hours, plants will absorb high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—airborne toxins released from everyday plastics, carpets and furnishings. Even on imperceptible levels, air pollution causes illness, as well as symptoms of headache, sore eyes, nose and throat, or nausea. 

Fortunately, real plants have no saturation point: The more toxins there are, the faster the plants absorb them. Some plants even work overtime as they continue to absorb VOCs and carbon dioxide at night, all the while producing fresh oxygen.

Not-so-fun fact: levels of carbon dioxide and VOCs are usually higher indoors than outside—even in city centres!

The peace lily made NASA’s list of “Top Ten Household Air Cleaning Plants”.

Increase productivity

Real plants produce fresh oxygen by absorbing carbon dioxide via photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide, produced from our breathing, is a well known cause of drowsiness and concentration loss. Fresher air improves our health and increases our productivity. Plants encourage more effortless brain activity, allowing for a greater capacity to maintain directed attention and to better perform tasks. 

Support mental and physical health

Simply spending time around plants calms, uplifts and restores us. Plants raise wellbeing while at the same time lowering stress and anxiety. Studies have even shown plants speed up recovery from mental fatigue and reduce high blood pressure.

Further boost our wellbeing

While real plants might not be as low-maintenance as those made from silk and plastic, there is a lot to be gained for caring for a living, breathing plant. As well as giving our minds a much-needed break, the responsibility of caring for plants can give a real sense of purpose, pride and achievement. It’s highly satisfying to successfully nurture a plant from seed to flower or, when growing your own food, from plant to plate.

Reduce sickness

Scientists in Oslo, Norway introduced plants into hospitals and discovered they helped to speed up patient recovery from major surgery and lessened their need for medication. The study also found real plants reduced staff absenteeism by 60% and reduced patients’ fear of visits.

Trap dust

While artificial plants attract dust—therefore requiring regular cleaning—the leaves of living plants will trap airborne dust particles and absorb the toxins they carry. The particles are not released back into the air and this removal can improve the humidity of an urban space and reduce respiratory problems for its occupants. 

Scent a space

Did you know the fragrance of real flowers can make you feel better? They are also able to ease migraines and headaches, while generating positive moods and promoting mental functioning. Plants such as lavender can promote calm and wellness, even helping to aid sleep.

Attract bees, butterflies and other super-important insects

Planting nectar-rich flowers encourages bees, butterflies and other pollinators. They offer a vital source of food and shelter in the concrete wastelands of our cities. In addition to supporting wildlife, real plants further increase biodiversity by simply greening a previously boring brick wall.

Artificial plants, on the other hand… 

Require no watering

Since artificial plants only look like the real thing, they don’t require watering or any other type of plant care.

Are low-maintenance

Artificial plants require dusting—that’s it!—making them great for non-gardeners and those who don’t have the time to care for living plants. There’s no need to worry about the environment of the plant, either—artificial plants can survive equally well in a north- and south-facing aspect. Artificial plants are also less likely to encourage any mischievous paws that like to dig… though you can’t count on every pet sticking to this rule!

Offer an instant impact

There’s no need to wait for artificial plants to grow. What you buy will be what you will see throughout the year. Depending on the quality, the colour of the plastic or silk can fade with time.

Are Non-toxic

Some real plants can be harmful to children or animals when ingested. Although artificial plants don’t pose this problem, they can still be a choking hazard and you should ensure the materials used are safe around the house.

Artificial walls 

Artificial walls offer no additional benefits to those of artificial plants. They also don’t share any of the benefits that real plants or living walls provide.

While the benefits of artificial plants remain far less considerable than those of real plants, in some situations they can be the deciding factor when choosing between the two. But this shouldn’t always be the case. Often people will decide upon an artificial wall without realising a living wall, along with the long list of benefits provided by real plants, can overcome most of the issues sometimes associated with caring for real plants.

The obvious difference between real and artificial plants is that real plants require human attention to keep them alive and healthy. But caring for plants, even a large amount, doesn’t have to be all guesswork and time-consuming. It couldn’t be easier thanks to living walls like PlantBox, which takes care of any watering woes, is easy to look after, and makes gardening accessible for everyone, inside and outside the house.

PlantBox living wall benefits

Watering simplified

Each PlantBox has a water level indicator to show how thirsty your plants are and holds 1.8 litres of water, preventing water-wastage, over- and under-watering, and the need for daily watering. Water is poured into the top PlantBox and cascades into those below, filling up each reservoir as it goes. Plants then draw up the water they need through a special inner wicking-felt lining. An irrigation kit can be easily attached and set to a timer, taking care of your plants when you are unable to. 

Quick instillation

PlantBox is made in the UK from 100% recycled materials and is designed to be lightweight, long-lasting and easy to assemble. Simply clip the pieces into place, then stack together in any configuration to best fit your indoor or outdoor space—it’s that simple! Planting vertically, aside from transforming previously dull, unadorned walls, also requires little to no floorspace. Using the drill holes, attach to a wall, fence, railings or other suitable surface—perfect for displaying your plants safely out of the reach of young children and pets.

Instant impact

Once planted, PlantBox immediately transforms the space it occupies. You may be surprised how much your plants will grow in only a few weeks. Unlike artificial plants, you can update the plants in your display as frequently as you want for a fresh look—from individual plants to the whole display—or use low-maintenance evergreen plants for year-round colour that requires minimal attention. PlantBox allows you to grow what you like and helps plants to thrive, whether in a sunless, plant-stripping north-facing garden or the desert-like conditions of a south-facing garden.

Grow your own food

Growing your own food is enjoyable and satisfying, and that’s before it has even hit the plate! You don’t need a huge amount of space—a kitchen surface, beside the back door or an unused windowsill can all be turned into a personal fresh food aisle. There are lots of delicious fruits, veggies and herbs that make great home-grown crops, many of which are suitable for first-time growers. Simply let your taste buds be your planting guide. Check out our Top 5 Reasons to Grow Your Own Food.

Inspire and educate children

Since we’ve mentioned growing your own food, this is also a fantastic way to inspire and educate children. Gillian wanted to educate her children about nature and encouraged them to engage with the great outdoors by creating two vertical allotments using PlantBox. One was stacked high with salad vegetables, the other with 32 strawberry plants. The children were super-excited to watch their home-grown crops grow day by day and to be able to pick their first strawberries of the season. With home-grown strawberries that good, we’re not surprised!

The greenest living wall around

We take UK household waste and turn it into PlantBox, a stackable living wall that’s made from 100% recycled materials. Our packaging is made from 100% recycled cardboard and we use potato starch bags to hold the small bits, avoiding single-use plastic and wasteful padding. Artificial walls, on the other hand, are rarely made from recycled plastics and are only adding to the increasing issue of plastic waste, without giving anything back to the environment.

Our commitment to doing our bit for the planet doesn’t end there…

The mould used to create PlantBox is specially designed to make two PlantBoxes simultaneously. This reduces the carbon footprint by over 75% compared to other plastic moulds. In our effort to minimise the impact of shipping, we designed PlantBox to nestle inside each other when transported. Since PlantBox is manufactured in Norfolk, UK, the carbon footprint is further reduced for orders within the UK as there are no air miles. 

PlantBox is designed to be as super-sustainable as possible, which is why PlantBox was voted a RHS Chelsea Sustainable Garden Product of the Year 2021 Finalist.

1% of sales pledged to environmental issues

With every PlantBox purchase you are helping to give back. 1% of PlantBox sales is pledged to 1% For The Planet, a global organisation that supports non-profits who are tackling our most pressing environmental issues, so you are transforming more than your own space. Find out more.

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