Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Lower South
December, 2007
Regional Report

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Cyclamen make great holiday gift plants.

Indoor Plants for Last-Minute Gifts

I bet you still have a few gifts yet to purchase for the holiday season. Perhaps they're not the big items on the list but rather some smaller gifts for guests coming over or for someone you'll see while traveling during the next few weeks.

Indoor plants make ideal gifts for gardeners and even nongardeners. Plants bring life and comfort to an otherwise sterile setting. An office without plants is cold and depressing in my opinion. Add an easy-care, low-light houseplant such as peace lily (Spathiphyllum) or Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema) and even a nongardener can have success growing plants.

Add Some Extras
Make sure to include instructions on how to care for the plant. Folks with a self-proclaimed brown thumb will need to know how to water properly. We kill most houseplants by keeping the soil too soggy wet. If the plant has specific light requirements, include that information, too.

For an added touch, place the plant in a small basket and add a little moss around it for decoration. Finish it off with a ribbon or bow. To create even more pizzazz, combine several small inexpensive plants into a larger container. Choose plants with different colors and texures, such as the linear foliage of dracaena, the trailing stems of miniature ivy, and the bold leaves of pothos or a small rubber tree. Add some moss and you have a stunning table display.

Forced bulbs are another good choice. You can purchase them in a box complete with a container for forcing for a ready-to-wrap gift. Forced bulbs will add beauty and in many cases fragrance to an indoor area weeks later.

A more exotic option would be an orchid. There are many types of orchids to choose from and while orchids have a reputation for being difficult to grow, not all are picky about their growing conditions. Moth or Phalaenopsis orchids are quite happy with our typical indoor setting as long as they get plenty of light. Place a moth orchid near a window for extra light and it will do fine with periodic watering. The bark medium they come with drains well, making overwatering less likely.

These orchids bloom in late winter for a gorgeous exotic display for weeks on end. While some specialty nurseries carry them throughout the year, these orchids typically arrive in stores later in the winter as they are beginning their bloom period. So also keep them in mind for post-holiday gifts.

Mini Gardens
Other gift ideas include a windowsill herb garden; a packet of seeds, such as zinnias, placed in some small terra cotta pots for starting an outdoor flower garden; a seed-starter tray with a plastic cover along with tomato and lettuce seeds; or a novelty plant, such as one of the insectivorous species like Venus fly plant or sundew. The insectivorous plants are downright "cool" for kids to watch!

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