We all know plants make excellent gifts. Whether it is cut flowers, a pot of something small and cute from the grocery store, or cuttings from someone else’s collection, most Houseplant Addicts have received gift plants and been delighted by them.
While giving plants is ubiquitous, giving the right gift plant isn’t always a no-brainer. If you’re considering giving someone a planty gift, there are a few things to consider to make sure your recipient and the plant are both happy with your gesture.
Are they a plant person?
Some people have vast plant collections and are veritable encyclopedias about their indoor and outdoor gardens. They know how to care for every type of plant they have, and they probably have discovered what types of plants work best for them and are their favorite. Are they avid about aroids, scouting for succulents, or giddy for gesneriads? That should help you determine what kind of addition to give them.
On the other hand, some people wouldn’t know a fern from an echeveria. They like plants in theory, but they don’t have many, or maybe even any.
Plants have different needs and different levels of care. If your gift plant is going to someone who is newer to plants, try to keep things simple. Get a plant that tolerates a wide range of conditions and isn’t finicky about the care it receives. Something hardy that can bounce back from bad conditions is a good bet. Hoyas, peperomias, spider plants, snake plants, and African violets are good options for low-maintenance gift plants. They also won’t break the bank, showing up in grocery stores.
Do You Know How to Take Care of It?
It’s nice to know what kind of care a plant needs when you get it. Try putting together a short guide or care sheet on how to care for your friend’s new plant. When and how much to water, lighting requirements, and any other tips you’ve learned are all excellent details to include. If you don’t want to write one, there are many care guides for plants available online. Print one out or email it to your recipient. It’s a good way to help keep that pretty green plant healthy, and their gift lasting for a long time to come.
Is it Healthy?
Nothing’s worse than getting a damaged gift. Before giving someone a plant, make sure it is free of pests and diseases. If you’re buying from a store, do a check for signs of spider mites, aphids, mealy bugs, and other problems. Choose a plant that looks good, not one with scars, burns, or dry leaves. Nobody wants to be burdened by a sick or dying plant that they weren’t planning on. (Of course, some people like to rehab plants, which is excellent, but let them make that choice for themselves, not because you gave it to them.)
If it is a plant you propagated or one you repotted, make sure you gave it the best chance to thrive. Put the right amount of soil and pack it in properly. Pick a pot that will be good for the plant and looks good. If a nursery pot is all you have, consider dressing it up with a ribbon tied around it or some other extra touch to make your gift plant even more special.
Does it Work for Them?
Some plants fit certain lifestyles better. If someone has curious pets, or even a child, having something toxic might be a bad idea. If the plant is going to be at their workspace, there may not be a lot of light available. When in doubt, keep it simple and give them something that won’t be likely to cause problems.
Is it Too Good to be True?
Sometimes you find the exact right plant for someone. Sometimes you find something adorable and at the right price and it seems to be just too perfect. In many cases, this is simply being in the right place at the right time. People find great deals every day. Sometimes, it’s not quite what it seems. Things like single hoya kerrii leaves, which look like hearts and can be rooted on their own, will never grow into a full plant. (Nothing wrong with a cute heart leaf in a pot, but not everyone knows they won’t grow any more than that.) Pests can stow away on your gift, as mentioned above, and nobody wants to discover stowaways on their new plant. Sometimes they aren’t being cared for well, being overwatered, underwatered, or in other bad conditions under the care of an indifferent store employee. Check to be sure that your perfect find doesn’t have any hidden pitfalls.
Set Them Up for Success
A lot of the time, plants intended to be given as a gift are made to look cute rather than healthy. Foil around the pot can hold in water and cause root rot. Sometimes they are waterlogged or clearly in the wrong pot or soil, or the cute pot it comes in has no drainage. Even if you don’t change these things yourself, make sure to let the recipient know so that they can enjoy a healthy and happy new addition to their collection.
Giving them cuttings from your own collection? If you have time to plan ahead, rooting them first is always a nice gesture. Even if you’re just giving them a few clippings, a nice presentation with a small pot takes it up a few notches from popping them in a plastic baggie.
Dress Them Up
Even wrapping a ribbon around the rim of a terra cotta or plastic pot can make it look cute without inviting issues for the plant you’re giving someone. A gift bag can make it easy for them to transport their new treasure if you give it to them somewhere away from home. Make your gift extra special by going the extra mile.
Whether it is something you give for a holiday like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, a birthday celebration, an anniversary, a housewarming, or just because you want to make them smile, a plant makes a wonderful gift. Going the extra mile and making sure that the plant they receive is happy, healthy, and will work for them takes that gift to the next level.