Are you looking for a thoughtful gift for a green-fingered family member, friend or colleague that is just a little bit different? Living gifts are becoming increasingly popular as we look to reduce our carbon footprint and find more creative, caring ways to show we care, and for the gardener, whether a weekend hobbyist or avid professional, a plant gift will be well received.
But what is the best type of plant to give as a gift? Would they like a plant that fruits for the deck, or a potted shrub inside, or a couple of native trees for the garden? Here are a few great plant gift ideas based on where your green-fingered friend has extra growing space.
Best plants for fully-shaded spots in the garden
The Fuchsia is a stunning, exotic plant that grows beautiful flowers with attractive two-tone colours. The fuchsia flower has an unusual shape with really delicate-looking petals, and although these plants can do well just about anywhere in a garden, they prefer shady, cooler areas with only small amounts of exposure to the sun.
The good-looking Philodendron Xanadu is a plant that prefers shaded areas along a wall or at the side of a house where they will be sheltered from frost and are the perfect addition to any garden. These easy-care shrubs can be grown outdoors in groups for a more tropical-style look and have interesting green leaves with a dusty pink midrib.
Best plants for sunny spots in the garden
Chinese legend says that the Crassula or Money Tree is a plant that can bring money and fortune, and it is a symbol of affluence, nobility and good luck, which makes it an ideal house warming gift for the gardening enthusiast. The green leaves of this easy-care succulent transform to a stunning golden yellow and red colour in winter, with white and pink flowers in late autumn. The Crassula enjoys living in full sun.
Every sunny garden deserves a Jasmine. This popular evergreen climber grows a mass of sweet fragrant starry white flowers in summer which really stand out against the dark green leaves. Although Jasmine grow slowly initially, they are worth the wait, eventually able to cover walls and fences and trellises. A must-have for every gardener and a very thoughtful plant to give as a gift.
Best plants for semi-shaded spots in the garden
The Gardenia is a popular distinguished-looking evergreen shrub with refined, white impressively perfumed flowers that grows better in partial shade in most soil. These plants are ideal gifts for gardeners who enjoy spending time with their plants to bring out their best.
Hydrangeas are another much-loved plant that grows very well with minimal maintenance in partially shaded garden areas. They also do well in pots along walls or the sides of houses to fill empty spaces. Grown in lime soils the flowers will be a gorgeous pink colour or will be blue when fed aluminium sulphate. White hydrangeas will remain white whatever the soil type.
Best plants for decks & patios
The Yunnanensis or Gracipes is a beautiful, hardy, compact shrub that grows well in pots on decks or patios, producing a plethora of buds that open to creamy white magnolia-type flowers in early summer. These long-lasting flowers have a slight lemony fragrance, making them a pleasure to have in an enclosed deck area.
Growing well in full sun on a deck or patio in pots is the striking Metrosideros plant. These plants are distant relatives of the stunning New Zealand-native Christmas trees or Pohutukawas, with gorgeous vibrantly coloured red flowers that bloom during spring. The Metrosideros is a nice compact shrub with shiny green leaves that look good all year round.
Best plants for inner-city apartment balconies
Even high-up balconies can grow fruit when you have a lemon tree. These plants that fruit grow very well in tubs and pots and are becoming the new must-have for inner-city balconies and gardens. Their fragrant flowers produce good crops of juicy yellow fruit, citrus trees are fantastic gifts for house-warmings and birthdays or as thank you gifts.
Enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean even when you are thirty floors up. The olive plant is a symbol of abundance and peace, and their ability to grow exceptionally well in pots make them excellent ornamental trees for apartment balconies.
Best indoor plants
The every-popular Peace Lily is a beautiful indoor plant with glossy green leaves, pretty white flowers and a lovely scent. These plants can enrich just about any room in a house, and any gardener will appreciate and enjoy owning one. Grown in pots they can be moved around depending on the seasons and position of the sun. Peace Lilies are excellent corporate gifts for colleagues and clients that appreciate the thought behind giving living gifts.
For a more exotic look the plant enthusiast will enjoy the Calathea Rufibarba. This indoor plant has striking dark olive leaves with purple backs, fury brown stems and arching foliage with crinkled edges that really stand out, growing yellow flowers at the base of the plant.