Which plants make good gifts?

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Why does everyone suggest giving orchids as gifts?

I get that they’re beautiful, but only when they’re blooming. Their foliage is a bit…blah.

I’m going to assume here that we’re giving this plant to a non-planty friend. Maybe someone that’s commented on how nice your plants look or something.

I would tend to suggest giving easy-care or cool plants as gifts. Such as:

1 – Golden or Neon Pothos

As a big a one as your budget allows. Get a really cool hanging pot and plant up a few cuttings together so it gets really full.

Pothos are great for complete beginners for a couple of reasons:

  • They’re forgiving of poor light, low humidity, and an incongruent watering schedule
  • They’re easy to replace if they die
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2 – Monstera (Deliciosa or Adansonii)

Add a moss pole so the recipient isn’t chiselling aerial roots off the wall. A cool statement plant that will be a great prop for their Instagram posts.

Note: I wouldn’t give a Fiddle-leaf Fig to someone that wasn’t already somewhat planty.

They can make that mistake on their own.

You don’t want them having to deal with the loss of the plant and feeling the need to replace them every time they die.

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3 – Sealed Terrariums

You can get ones that are totally enclosed systems, so you never have to water them, or do anything. This is great for that black-thumbed friend that would LOVE to have a cool plant centrepiece.

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4 – Rarer Epipremnums

I have an Epipremnum pinnatum Marble Planet which looks cool af (like dragon scales) and I’m sure any potential plant parent would love to receive one.

Even though it looks super cool and you don’t see tonnes of them about, it’s so easy to take care of – medium light, forgiving of the novice waterer and unfussy about humidity.

Other options would be a Cebu Blue or Happy Leaf.

Although my Happy Leaf is decidedly Unhappy, and is working on dropping all of its whitest leaves.

I think the level of variegation is too high in some of them and they can’t sustain themselves. Look for one that has markings more similar to a Philodendron Brasil.

Or just give a Brasil as a gift – they’re a great option.

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5 – A few cuttings from your plants

I think this is a lovely, personal gift, and if you feel weird about not buying them a gift, then present the cuttings in a propagation station – you can get some really nice ones on Amazon.

You could give a few mixed plants, so your friend could have a go at growing a few different plants – a Jade plant, a pothos, a peperomia, a pilea…whatever you have going.

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6 – Asparagus fern

They’re not actual ferns and can tolerate a bit of drought.

I got mine when I was a complete newbie and it rewarded my somewhat dubious care with so much new growth and inspired me to get more plants.

My gateway plant, if you will.

There are a couple of different types, but I like the ones that look like tiny trees.

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Plants I wouldn’t give as gifts

Orchids

I already mentioned that I’m not a massive fan of them because their foliage isn’t great, but also because I think they require more care than other plants. They really could do with a clear pot and they enjoy a soak rather than a quick water.

It’s a lot to put on a novice plant parent. Especially for a plant that they may or may not be able to get to bloom again.

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Peace lilies

Two reasons:

  1. They need to be kept moist and they droop and look sad when you don’t deliver. It’s just a lot of pressure for the new caregiver, you know?
  2. They’re a common gift. If you’re someone’s ‘planty friend’ you can do better than gifting them a plant friend
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Calathea, ferns, alocasia

Maybe a Boston fern, if you think your friend is up to the task, but otherwise, no.

These are great gifts to give to a friend to add to their collection, but not to a newbie. If they have a humid house like me, then maybe a Calathea, but leave alocasia to the more experienced. Maybe next year.

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Cacti

Two reasons:

  1. They’re big
  2. They’re spiky

If the cactus you’ve picked out is not (or isn’t going to grow to be) either of those things, then go ahead. But otherwise, you’re being mean.

Trust me, I live with a big cactus, and it ain’t always easy.

If you’re hell-bent on getting your friend something big, go for a philodendron or something, you know, that can’t take your eye out.

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Herbs

Most herbs grow best outdoors.

That’s why the ones you grow on the windowsill usually die – they need more airflow and light than occurs in the average home.

Supermarkets try to hide the truth from you, but I’m afraid they’re lying.

By all means buy those pots and use them, but don’t expect them to live.

By the way, if you do want them to live do this:

  • Take the plant out of the pot and split into quarters.
  • Plant up each quarter into a pot the same size as the original plant.
  • Keep outside and water daily, or leave the pots in a tray and add about a cm of water
  • Your herbs will stay alive much longer – mine died about 6 months after purchase. You can keep parsley going longer, but coriander dies after it flowers and basil can’t take the cold.
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Supermarket anthuriums

I admit that this is absolutely a personal opinion, but I hate them. They look like plastic. Same goes for supermarket bromeliads.

If you want to get someone an anthurium, first ensure that they’re not a complete novice, and then get them something cool like a Clarinervium.

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Conclusion

I love giving plants as gifts, but I try to limit myself to plants that I think a novice could keep alive AND I always make sure to tell the person that I won’t hate them forever if they kill the plant.

I think it’s nice to give some instructions with the plant – or even something that they might not have thought about, like a moisture meter.

You could get a fancy marker and write instructions on the pot itself so that they can’t be lost – if your handwriting is grim then it can always be put in a cover pot.

If you live close by you can offer an annual re-potting service to ensure longevity.

If you have any other planty-type gift ideas for beginners, then I’d love to hear about them, so leave me a comment.

My dad wanted socks and walnuts (?) for Christmas, but I’m going to chuck in a moisture metre too because he loves plants and has amassed quite the collection since I’ve gotten into them.

He used to be scared to get too many because of my mum’s infamous history with them (she’d make a ZZ plant run and hide), so it’s nice to have a hobby we can share 😀

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