During the past two months or so many discussions have popped up about artificial plants that are hazardous or simply people looking for a cheaper alternative to store bought imitation plants. I too had a similar problem where I wanted some nice and short imitation plants for my aquarium but I could not find any in stores that suited my taste.
So I decided to make my own!
-Artificial plants ($ 1.00-2.00). Pick them up at your dollarstore or Walmart.
-Plastic ($ 0.00). You can get some from food/product packaging.
-Knife/scissors ($ 0.00-2.00). You most likely already have both.*Optional: Super glue ($ 2.00-5.00).
1a) Rinse the leaves and leave them overnight submerged in water to make sure that the colouring does not leech from the fabric/plastic.
1b) Take your artificial plant and separate the stem(s) from the leaves. The stem usually has a metal wire inside for stability. Usually the leaves will be attached in pairs by plastic rings/branches that are slipped over the stem.
2) Decide how big and what style you want your plant to be. Usually at the end of the stems you will find a "cap plant" that has a thick all plastic stem with multiple leaves attached to it; the artificial bouquets have this so you can "run" your fingers over the plant and not jab yourself with the hard metal wire. Depending on the fake bouquet and how you separated the leaves from the stem you might need to glue your leaves together to make a plant. I recommend using some sort of super glue as they are strong, they dry quickly and they are aquarium safe.
3) From the plastic packaging or whatever it is you have; cut a square from it of minimal thickness. How big and wide it is depends on how big your plant is. As a rule: the bigger and more leaves the larger the square. This is because a larger plant with more leaves is more likely to float and thus you need a larger base to be able to cover it with gravel (or any substrate) to weigh it down.
4) With your knife simply make a hole through the centre of the plastic base. It doesn't need to be a smooth hole; the more imperfections it has the better!
5) Pass the plastic stem portion of your plant through the hole. The rough edges of the hole help grip it in place, so no glue necessary! Only stick out a few millimetres of the stem through the hole to make sure that it will stay in place.
***Voilà! You are done!***
I have made a total of three artificial silk plants with no glue for the low cost of $1.00! I also made my own "leaf hammock"! I have included pictures to see how they look.
Good luck, save money and get creative!