Thumbing through decorating magazines and browsing designer blogs, it dawned on me that the plastic ficus tree has been replaced with decorative tree branches. I don't know why it took me so long to notice my plastic tree was very dated. I did buy it fifteen years ago, and they had already been a popular trend for years before that. Some of the updated looks are tree branches that appear to be flowering, such as this one provided to houzz by Lola B's.
I also like this one by Restoration Hardware:
My do-it-myself self walked over to the nearby woods with a saw in hand - hoping not to scare any of my curious neighbors. I found some gorgeous large branches, removed the leaves, and pruned away until I was satisfied with the final shape. I cut off the fake ficus tree as close to the bottom of the trunk as I could, then jabbed the real tree branches into the foam filled planter. Finally, I wrapped the planter in some fabric. I really like the new look.
Best of all...project cost: $0 dollars!!! Absolutely free, Baby!