It's the middle of December again and grocery stores and gift shops are overflowing with those ubiquitous cheery red poinsettias. They make for festive holiday presents, but why not give a plant that the recipient will want to keep around for more than one or two months?
Uncomplicated to take care of, these eight plants also have other outstanding qualities. They're great to give as holiday gifts that won't lose their appeal after the New Year begins.
Amaryllis produces colorful flowers as an indoor plant throughout the winter months. It is often sold as a bulb with a decorative container and requires a bit of watering to coax out a rich floral display. Amaryllis makes an excellent plant gift and a very easy way to bring the cheeriness of spring flowers into the winter months.
So named because it blooms at this time of year, the Christmas cactus is a great gift for the succulent lover in your life. Although red blossoms are most commonly seen, shades of pink, purple, cream, and white are also available. It prefers a cool, sunny location.
Many ferns are used as natural indoor air filters. The Christmas fern is an attractive house plant which may easily be planted outdoors. Native to North America, it stays green all year round. Its defining feature is, of course, its verdant leaves, since ferns don't flower.
Cyclamen thrive and bloom in cool weather. I see them more and more often here in Southern California as a winter flower. They also make good house plants. They are comparatively short plants and their flowers are quite unique, ranging from palest pink to deep red.
Orchids are becoming one of the most popular indoor plants because of their graceful appearance and minimal maintenance requirements (that is a subjective statement, I know). They are increasingly available in assorted sizes and colors. Symbolic of luxury, an orchid makes an elegant plant gift.
Another carefree flowering bulb, paperwhites can grow in different mediums like soil or pebbles which can provide very different visual effects. The flowers are very fragrant, and the bulbs can be replanted in a garden after the holidays.
Poinsettias became associated with Christmas through the Ecke family's clever marketing in the latter part of the 20th century, the L.A. Times reports. Today they are the easiest gift flower to find and come in many different colors. However, they are also considered a “throwaway,” since people generally discard the plants, like Christmas trees, after January 1st.
Why not give herbs as a practical plant gift? Mint, thyme, and oregano are examples of hardy, attractive pot herbs. Plus, they can either be maintained for years in their pots or transferred to the garden. Some of the most robust herbs in my garden are those I received in the wintertime as potted plants.
Jordan Laio is a Networx writer.
Updated February 18, 2018.