Monday, October 18, 2021

The "It" Houseplant

J. Joern Cunningham

For several years, real fiddle leaf fig trees were the "it" houseplant. They were everywhere on the internet and articles abounded on how to keep them alive. Now that everyone has killed off their fiddle leaf figs, the stores are filled with faux versions. But I think their day has passed. Too many bad memories....

What people are embracing is the faux olive tree. They are chic, elegant, the essence of Tuscany, and one less thing to worry about. I think we have enough to stress out over. They work beautifully in any room of the house. These above are faux BTW. And I love the blue and white Chinese planters. Don't even think about a live olive tree - they are so messy and need tons of sun.

Since I live in Venice, I decided I need something Italian for my home. Venice, Florida is filled with Italian architecture, street names, restaurants, and descendants. So I have read lots of reviews and have rounded up some great choices for your home. Some have faux olives, some do not. I have just ordered one for my home. With my very high ceilings, I was looking for something tall, highly rated, and not a zillion dollars.

I also love olives in every way, shape, and form. I am not a big martini fan, but I love a very dirty martini for the olives. Back in the day in Alexandria, a grocery store now long gone had an olive bar and my favorite was the olives with lemon zest. I love everything lemon and they were amazing. I will share a recipe below. 

Although this one is too small for my needs, I love the shape and the terra cotta pot and it looks very realistic if you are looking for a tabletop version at 33" high.

Pottery Barn Faux Olive Topiary

The larger versions at Pottery Barn are highly rated and look great. They come in 6', 7', and 9' but I would need the 9' and it is very wide. Best for a room where you are trying to fill it.

Pottery Barn Potted Olive Tree

I like the McGee one a lot but the 6' version is the tallest and it's $675 and out of stock. Just as well as it is too short and very pricey. Also comes in a tabletop.

McGee & Co. Faux Potted Olive Tree

The Ballard Designs examples are lovely if you are looking for one for a kitchen counter, mantel, or bookshelf. And I love topiaries.

Ballard Designs Olive Topiary

At over 6', this is very well priced and great if you are looking for one that is not very wide.

Home Depot Nearly Natural Olive Tree

At 4' tall and only $79.99, this is an excellent value.

World Market Potted Olive Tree

BTW, virtually all of the larger faux trees come in containers that are either black plastic or an ugly and/or undersized container. Find yourself a great basket or container to give it more gravitas, make it more elegant, and prevent it from tipping over. A good rule of thumb is to take the feet of the tree and double it in inches. So for an 8' faux tree, you would want a 16" or larger container. Capiche? (From the Italian capisci). Use a couple of clean bricks at the bottom of the container for even more stability and/or to elevate the plant.

Now, for the one I chose.

I am a huge Target fan. I think they offer tremendous style and value in everything including fashion and home decor. I have loved their fashion designer and interior designer collaborations over the years. I especially like their Threshold line of home decor.

Target Threshold Studio McGee Olive Tree

It is almost 8 feet tall, just $250 with free shipping, and gets incredible reviews. It is always out of stock, so when they restocked, I pounced on it. It arrives on Thursday. I even like the pot and moss, but may decide to put it in one of my beautiful blue and white Chinese porcelain fishbowls.

Pot and Moss

Lemon, Thyme, and Garlic Olives

1 ½ cups Sicilian olives
peel and juice of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic chopped
3 tbs good extra virgin olive oil
pinch of sea salt - smoked sea salt is great here
a few sprigs of thyme

Drain the olives to remove the brine they come in and give them a quick rinse.
Grab a dish that is large enough to fit the olives in a single layer. Toss all of the ingredients together in the dish, cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours, preferably overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving so that the oil can liquefy again.

(via Delicious Everyday)

My notes - This takes 5 minutes to make - any green olives can be used and fresh rosemary and parsley can be added or substituted for the thyme. I also zest the lemon peel into slivers. Sicilian olives (green Castelvetrano) are the tastiest IMO if available. Please note the recommendation of smoked sea salt. We will revisit that this week. You need to know about smoked sea salt.

And my $5.00 Publix roses on day 5 - still beautiful - no wilting or drooping. My rose tips always work for me.



  1. I am actually growing a big, beautiful olive tree in my yard. Mine hasn't fruited yet, but my neighbor's behind me has!

  2. Just a thought, but would love a virtual tour of your home. You have such wonderful ideas and I am certain your entire home would be delightful to tour.

    1. I had a photo shoot scheduled and then the Delta variant surged here in Florida and I decided to wait. But I do plan on doing it soon. Thanks.

  3. This post showed up just at the right time! I purchased a faux topiary ball for a large Chinese fishbowl on the patio recently - when it arrived it was the wrong size and very poor quality. Just came back from Michael's and they had nothing. So I was very happy with the olive tree idea. Just ordered the small one from Pottery Barn! Thank you for doing all the leg work and providing great options!

  4. That foyer/entry hall is beautiful.

  5. Love this post, Beth. A mix of info on many fronts.❤️

  6. love olives too and will try your yummy recipe...
    Those roses in the vase are TDF!!! They'd be great as wedding centerpieces !