From foliage to florals, plants make a wonderful gift. A potted plant can brighten up a room and even improve your mental health. Giving someone a living gift is a thoughtful gesture - but what is the best houseplant to give as a present?
Things to consider when gifting plants
A pretty evergreen present might seem like a universally good idea but there are always things to consider before making a purchase.
For example, if your friend or loved one is prone to allergies, anything that carries a high pollen count or powerful scents is a bad idea. This would include florals such as roses, chamomile, daisies and sunflowers.
The best flowers for people with allergies
If gifting flowers is a must but the recipient is prone to allergies, all is not lost. There are plenty of beautiful hypoallergenic florals. Here are some common favourites which are easy to find in your local garden centre:
Tulips - beautiful flowers available in a range of stunning colours. Red, pink, yellow and purple are the most common varieties. If you ever take a trip to Amsterdam between the end of March and the beginning of May, you will see a stunning array of tulips from some of the finest growers in the world.
Pansies - the garden pansy has a large flower and sports rich, multicoloured petals. They can be kept inside without too much trouble. Just make sure they are potted using indoor soil (which has a lot of nutrients) and are kept in a cool room. As spring-flowering plants, they are not fans of warm temperatures. If you keep them next to a window, make sure it isn’t one that gets too much direct sunlight.
Cacti - when you think of a cactus, you probably think sharp and prickly. It is worth remembering that many cacti flower beautifully. The secret to making them flower is to make sure they have a proper winter season. It sounds counterintuitive but to help your cactus flower; keep it in cold, dark conditions with very little water for about three months over winter. The shed is a great place to do this. Then, when spring rolls around, keep them in the shade for a few weeks. Again, water infrequently. When summer arrives, keep the cactus in blazing sunlight (a south facing window is ideal) and only water it occasionally. This gives the succulent a fantastic chance of flowering. If you start to wonder whether you should be watering it more, remember that cacti originate in the desert and thrive on hot, dry conditions.
Another important consideration is whether the plant you are going to gift is suitable for pets. Some plants, such as lilies, aloe vera and jade are beautiful and often found in houses but can be toxic to both cats and dogs.
The best pet-safe houseplants to give as a gift
Having pets certainly doesn’t rule out having plants around the house. There are plenty of beautiful options to give someone who has cats and/or dogs.
African violet - small and shrub-like with beautifully rich flowers. African violets are also known as Saintpaulia. They can flower for months at a time and remain quite compact, making them ideal for windowsills.
Parlor palm - the quintessential houseplant. Each plant has several ‘storks’ of long, slender leaves. They are evergreen and easy to care for, making them a wonderful gift to give for someone’s home.
Hibiscus - a tropical touch for any home. Hibiscus plants are beautiful but are best suited to somebody with previous gardening experience. They can be a lot of work to keep in shape (but they do make up for it!).
Whatever kind of plant you settle on, it is worth remembering that each plant is unique. If you are buying from a garden centre, try to get something that is in season. Shops often sell perennial plants out of season when they might not be looking their best. Picking one of these can be a bit of a gamble as you don’t know how well it will bloom in season.