If you’re looking to give a more inventive gift than a box of chocolates or candle, you can’t go wrong with a house plant. Before making your purchase, though, be sure to choose the right plant for the right place.
For example, put a moth orchid in a warm spot and it will flourish – but do the same with cool-loving cyclamens and you’ll have an unhappy plant on your hands. If giving a gift, pass on any care tips and if the plant isn’t worth the trouble after flowering, advise the recipient to put it on the compost heap.
Discover 10 house plants below, to give to friends or family, or as a treat for yourself.
Keep cyclamen between 10-16°C in medium light. Soak thoroughly when it starts to dry out, but don’t let it stand in water. Tug out spent flowers and after the display is over, keep the dry corm in its pot and store indoors over summer.
Moth orchids perform best at 18-24°C, in medium light. Water weekly with rain, filtered or boiled water (cooled) and keep humid. Always grow moth orchids in transparent pots and prune old flower stems to a new growth bud, for continued flowering.
Grow azaleas at 10-16°C, in medium light. Water several times a week with rain, filtered or boiled water (cooled) and don’t let the compost dry out. Use ericaceous compost if repotting, but keep potbound for the best blooms.
Keep poinsettia in medium light, at 16-21°C, in a humid spot. Water twice weekly. Discard after flowering. For a challenge, you could prune back the stems, keep drier and repot after six weeks. In September, give 12 hours of darkness then good daylight, for eight weeks.
Christmas cactus do well in a wider temperature range, from 13-21°C. Grow in medium light and water twice a week when in bud or flower. Pop it outside from April-Sept and stand in shade in summer. In winter keep plants cool and dryish to trigger bud formation.
Grow cymbidium orchids in medium light, from 13-18°C, keeping humid. Water twice a week with rain, filtered or boiled water (cooled) and prune back dead flower stems. Repot in spring if it’s bursting out and stand outside in summer shade to encourage flowers.
Put Christmas cherries in a medium-high light spot, at 10-16°C. Water twice weekly from above and keep humid. When the berries are over, cut it back by half, keep drier, then repot in spring. In summer, stand outside in shade.
Kalanchoes grow in temperatures from 10-16°C, in medium light, although a bright spot is best in winter. Water weekly when the pot has dried out and deadhead spent flowers. Keep kalanchoe cool and reduce watering in spring, then resume as normal in summer.
Short-lived paperwhite narcissus need medium light and room temperatures of 10-18°C. Water twice weekly from above, but be prepared to throw away the plants after flowering as they’re not hardy enough to grow outside in the garden.
Grow hippeastrum in a bright spot at temperatures around 16-21°C. Water sparingly until the flower is clear of the bulb, then water twice weekly. After flowering, let the stem dry off before removing. Allow the bulb to rest in summer, before resuming watering in October.