If picking the perfect holiday gift stresses you out, this year visit your local garden center for a natural gift that keeps on giving. Gardening and growing plants is an experiential gift that is both rewarding and fun.
If you are gifting a plant this season, remember to keep your gift recipient in mind. Do they have pets or small children who will disturb the plants? Some plants may be toxic, too. How much space and sunlight do they have? Would they prefer to receive a plant to have for years, or will they most likely discard it after the holidays? With all of this in mind, there is a perfect plant for everyone.
Poinsettias are the traditional holiday plant, but new varieties with interesting flower shapes, sizes, and colors are introduced every year. They grow best in bright, indirect sunlight and away from any draughts. Poinsettia roots easily rot if they are oversaturated, so only water plants when the soil surface feels dry. A native to Mexico, the Poinsettia does not tolerate cold temperatures. Make sure to protect the plant if transporting it outside to another location.
An amaryllis kit will transform into multiple showy, bell-shaped blooms atop a 1-foot green stalk, and will include everything you need to force these flowering bulbs inside. Forcing bulbs indoors is a simple gardening technique that imitates the natural environmental conditions and tricks the bulb into flowering inside instead of out in the garden. Amaryllis flowers can be found in many colors including red, white, peach, pink, and variegated.
Christmas cacti faithfully bloom every year in December, with frilly flowers of white, pink, or red covering the flat, cactus-like foliage. They are short-day plants, meaning that flower development is initiated by long, dark, cool nights that occur in winter. These plants are one of the easiest to care for. They are also easy to propagate and make new plants.
A rosemary topiary is a perfect gift for anyone who loves to cook with fresh ingredients. The fragrant foliage of the rosemary plant can be trimmed into different shapes and placed in a brightly lit area. The potted plant can also be transplanted into the garden in the spring. Don’t forget to bring it back inside in the fall though.
Other botanical gifts
Other botanical gift ideas include unique houseplants or miniature evergreens delightfully decorated with ornaments and ribbon for the holiday season, fresh mistletoe adorned with a bow to tie above a doorway, glossy green holly with bright red berries filling a vase, or an air plant ornament to hang as decoration.
The gift of gardening is an experience that anyone can appreciate this holiday season. Instead of more “stuff,” consider an environmentally friendly gift this year. Give someone a green holiday season.
Brittnay Haag is an Illinois Extension horticulture educator for Livingston, McLean, and Woodford counties.