Gardening

Best plants to give as gifts

poissent

Poinsettias. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Summary

  • This year, the lockdown has rekindled a new desire to be in colourful spaces.
  • Colourful or beautiful-looking flower varieties make excellent Christmas presents and they will last longer than the festive season.
  • They will remain a pleasant memory and source of joy for as long as it blossoms.

What do you gift people who have everything? A plant is a perfect choice. This year, the lockdown has rekindled a new desire to be in colourful spaces. Colourful or beautiful-looking flower varieties make excellent Christmas presents and they will last longer than the festive season. They will remain a pleasant memory and source of joy for as long as it blossoms.

Here are some that Joseph Kihoro of Intriscape Plant Nursery, a Nairobi-based plant seller recommends.

These are the number one Christmas flowers. Their star-shaped leaves, which are scarlet, make them ideal for the Christmas holidays. You can choose other colours, creamy white or pink.

Originally from Mexico, the plant has grown to become a popular holiday flower globally. In Mexican folklore, it is said that a girl wanted to present flowers to Jesus on Christmas Eve but could only afford weeds. After offering them in church, they blossomed into poinsettias.

Poinsettias do well in bright areas. Extreme temperatures (either too hot or too cold) should be avoided for them to grow well. Also, avoid over-watering to prevent root rot.

Christmas Cactus

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Christmas cactus. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

This plant originally from Brazil tends to bloom just in time for the December holiday. It is a succulent plant with hanging branches that finish off in red, white, purple, pink, or yellow flowers at the end of its cacti-like stem.

Contrary to the name, it’s not an actual cactus and will need more keen attention for its survival, unlike the normal cactus which is drought-resistant.

Ensure the soil is moist but not soggy to prevent rotting. Place it near a bright window but away from direct sunlight. Should you want to induce flowering in the future, keep the plant in darkness for at least 14 hours until new buds start forming. If well taken care of, they can live up to 100 years! Now that’s a legacy!

Amaryllis

It is a perfect gift for people who do not want to keep their gift indoors. Amaryllis have huge and exotic trumpet-shaped flowers. Originally from Africa and Central America, you can pot them or plant them in the garden and they will keep rewarding you with bright flowers throughout the year. Small wonder then that the name means to sparkle. The flowers can be orange, red, or pink.

Water them deeply once a week and place them in a sunny spot. However, do not let the plant sit in water. This is because wet soil can promote bulb and root rot and attract pests.

If you do want to enjoy the floral display from the comfort of your couch, you can pot these plants as they are fairly easy to take care of. Pot them in well-draining soil, place the pot in a location that receives bright, indirect light, and wait for the flowers to pop.

Sansevieria

This is a very wide class of plants but they are a perfect gift. They are the hardest plants to kill, making them ideal for newbie gardeners and plant lovers.

They survive even with the highest level of negligence and do not need one to labour looking for an ideal spot. Anywhere will do as long as it is away from heat draughts.

The varieties include the long think Sanseviera plant which is stunning to look at, the curvy variety which is soft to the eye, and the mini hybrid of the previous two.

The best part of this gift is that they act as ventilators in our homes. They give out oxygen throughout.

Water them once in a fortnight or when you remember!

Jade Plants

jade-plant

Jade plant. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Did you know that the jade plant is also known as the friendship tree, money tree, or lucky plant? One can never have enough loyal friends, luck, and money to do great things! This makes it the ideal gift as it communicates thoughtful messages to the recipient.

The jade plant can be grown as a pot or in the garden. It has many benefits too. It improves air quality and increases humidity, and is just beautiful to look at.

To properly care for it, water a jade plant moderately since its fleshy stem already holds a lot of water. Make sure the soil is completely dry before watering it again, making it ideal for loved ones you are wooing into the care and love of plants and flowers.

Araucaria – Norfolk Island Pine Plant

Native to Australia, this tree is very commonly used as a Christmas tree. It can be decorated and kept for the whole Christmas period. If it outgrows the pot, it can always be transplanted to the garden where it will flourish still.

The plant loves direct sunlight, a tropical climate, and requires well-drained soil. It requires very minimal care but moderate watering is essential.

It is an ideal Christmas gift because it offers an opportunity to spend quality time together as you decorate it and usher in the Christmas mood into any room it's placed in.