Living gifts

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Plants as gifts - 10 ideas for a greener giving


Christmas colour
For a traditional Christmas you can’t go past a bright red Poinsettia. For something different, a shiny bromeliad in bloom (e.g. Guzmania) adds a tropical touch. Bromeliads are great in pots indoors and out. Modern gerberas bred for outdoors can be enjoyed in pots for christmas and plant out later. Similarly, hydrangeas are magnificent in pots at this time of year, offering a wide choice of irresistible flowers on compact growing plants perfect for patios and smaller gardens.

2 Make a mini Xeriscape
Terrcotta bowls look great with a collection of colourful succulents and baby cacti. But any container with drainage holes in the bottom will suit. For best results use potting mix designed for cacti and succulents. Purchase baby succulent plants or take cuttings from succulents growing in the garden (summer is a good time to do this), or combine the two. Use a chopstick to poke holes for cuttings and gently push them into the mix.  Finish off with a decorative layer of pebbles or pumice.
3 Large and leafy
Fruit Salad Plant (Monstera), weeping fig (Ficus benjamina), rubber plant (Ficus robusta) and dragon trees (Dracaena) are prized among the larger houseplants, very on trend for those needing an easy care plant to fill a space in need of fresh foliage.
4 For the table
Christmas crackers are fun but a living plant looks just as festive and it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
5 Hard to kill
Plants might not be the first choice as gift for non-green-fingered loved ones, but many houseplants are surprisingly neglect proof - just as long as they don’t get killed by kindness (over watering). Cacti and succulents are an obvious choice, including the amazingly tough and drought tolerant mother-in-laws tongue (Sansevieria). Also, some of the most lush looking plants are surprisingly bullet proof. These include peace lilies (Spathyphyllum), just right for Christmas giving.

Christmas fragrance
It's flowering time for fragrant white Christmas lilies. Look out for these and other colourful potted lilies in garden centres now.


Make a terrarium
A glass vase, a large jar or repurposed fishbowl is an opportunity to create a mini plant haven. Terrariums are fun for kids and they make excellent gifts.

Start with a layer of pebbles for drainage.  Add a thin layer of damp sphagnum moss  to over the pebbles. This prevents the potting mix falling down into the pebbles, while letting the water drain through. Add potting mix and get planting. Allow space for plants to grow and spread.

Small succulents and tropical plants sold as baby houseplants are great for terrariums, including ferns, peperomia and baby s tears. Kitchen spoons and chopsticks are helpful planting tools.

Place the terrarium where it gets plenty of light but not direct sun. Water sparingly. If there is condensation on the glass, delay watering. If the terrarium gets crowded, prune off some leaves or take out a whole plant.


Make a Kokedama
To make a beautiful Japanese hanging string garden you will need some heavy clay soil, sphagnum moss, potting mix, string and a small plant. Succulents are great because they don t need much watering. Baby houseplants like the shade and are great for bathrooms.

Remove your plant from its container and wrap the roots in a layer of wet sphagnum moss. In a bucket thoroughly mix some of potting mix with equal parts clay soil. Pack the mixture around the moss covered roots shaping it into a ball. Cover the ball with a layer of sphagnum moss and wind with criss-crossing string to hold it all together. Water as needed by soaking the ball in a bowl of water, then leaving it to drain.

To make a kokedama with seeds, first make the ball then press seeds into the top half of moss. Use a mist spray bottle to keep it moist. Try creeping herbs such as thyme and small flowering plants such as alyssum or violas.

9 Retro hangers
For those who’ve run out of surfaces for another plant, there is always the ceiling. Oh so trendy hanging plants save space while adding depth and fresh ambiance to any room. Among the best of hanging indoor plants are: string of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus), Boston fern (Nephrolepis), donkey s tail (Sedum morganianum), chain of hearts (Ceropegia woodii), lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus) and wax plants (Hoya varieties). For a really special gift team hanging plant with your own homemade macrame hanger.

The real thing
With exquisite, almost unreal looking blooms in a range of colours and patterns, moth orchids (Phalaenopsis) are loved by all. They bely their exotic beauty with an amazingly long flowering. They are easy to care for when placed in bright indirect light. To provide the humid conditions they love, sit plants on a dish of decorative pebbles with water.

TIP: Use a folded up strip of newspaper as a holder if you are planting prickly cacti. Gloves are recommended!

Look for these products, tips and advice at a Go Gardening Store near you.



Christmas colour

Mini xeriscape

Large and leafy

For the table

Hard to kill

christmas lilies
Christmas frgrance

Make a terrarium

Make a Kokedama

hanging houseplants
Retro hangers

moth orchids
The real thing