It’s the time of giving. It won’t be long before the holidays are around the corner, and with gift lists for friends and family growing by the day, it’s time to give them some generous attention. Here’s a suggestion: Plants make great gifts. In many cases, they are the definition of the gift that keeps giving.
Plants may not be the epitome of one-size-fits-all, but after the holidays, a plant gift probably doesn’t end up in the returns department because it was the wrong size. But choosing the right plant for the recipient can give some people pause. Do not worry about it. Chances are, there’s a plant for almost everyone on your list, whether they’re an avid gardener or not.
Live plants make excellent hostess gifts, whether they are celebratory standards or unique specimens or not.
So let’s start filtering out the uncertainties by answering a few simple questions. It is important to match the gift plant to the person who will receive it. After all, plants are living beings that need attention and care. Finding the right mix can help ensure the success of your gift plant.
- Is the recipient someone who spends most of their time indoors?
- Does the recipient love nature?
- Is the recipient a couch potato?
- Does the recipient love a garden?
The perfect plant for a home or indoor person is one that they can see out of a window. A flowering tree or shrub can add color and interest. A fruiting or nut bearing or native tree can provide food for wildlife – an added bonus for bringing movement and life into the mix while also helping wildlife. If this indoor guy is an avid cook, herbal plants are always a good choice.
The outdoor types will enjoy a perennial, shrub or tree with rich sensory appeal. The seasonal color and vibrancy of a native mountain ash or perhaps a witch hazel is just the thing to capture the attention of any nature lover any time of the year.
Even the laid-back type can appreciate the vibrant color of low-maintenance houseplants that thrive with little maintenance. There are many to choose from and some even succeed in low light situations with minimal care. In fact, some would rather not make a fuss.
And one of the easiest — or most difficult — on your list of being happy with plants is the avid gardener. They don’t want to duplicate the plants they may already have or present them with something they can’t incorporate into their garden scheme. A little detective work is necessary in this case, perhaps even a subtle query about plant preferences or special growing conditions that prevail in your garden.
If your gift plant is grown outdoors, you will need to adapt it to the conditions in the recipient’s home. Sun or shade, wet or dry conditions need to be considered in your selection, as well as compatibility with growing zones.
When choosing your gift plants, make sure they have a stable trunk (shrubs or trees), healthy-looking leaves and good branching. If it’s a flowering plant, choose one with lots of buds rather than one that’s already in full bloom. That way, the recipient can see them in the bud and as they transform into the flower.
If you’re still empty after checking all the details, consider a gift certificate to a local garden center or even a mail order gardener. In this way, the recipient can choose exactly the plant that he wants and that perfectly suits him and his surroundings.
A little suggestion, when it comes time to give this gift certificate, you could put it in a small pot tied with a pretty bow, or attached to a gardening tool like a hand trowel, or slipped into a pair of brightly colored gardening gloves.
For example, if the gift is a blooming orchid, include a colorful water mist bottle to keep that plant healthy and happy. Wrapping a live plant can be as simple as attaching a bow or placing the nursery pot in a colourful, decorative ceramic collection pot.
Houseplants make our indoor spaces healthier and happier, and native plants, trees and shrubs make the outdoor environment better for everyone. A living plant can be one of the most valuable gifts ever.
Lynette L. Walther is the GardenComm Gold Medalist for Writing and a five-time recipient of the GardenComm Silver Medal of Achievement, the National Garden Bureau’s exemplary journalism award. She is a member of GardenComm, the professional association for garden writers. Her gardens are in Camden.
Salvage sculptures by Benoit in the Rockport Library