If you’re looking to give a more inventive gift than a box of chocolates or candle, you can’t go wrong with a houseplant.
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’ll 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.
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Discover 11 houseplants below, to give to friends or family, or as a treat for yourself.
Variegated Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’
Spider plants (Chlorophytum) are easy to grow and will reward you with frequent offsets that can be grown on and given to friends. As well as the variegated varieties ‘Vittatum’ and ‘Variegatum’, you could also grow ‘Lemon’, which has fresh green foliage. They look fabulous in hanging containers. Grow out of direct sunlight, and water and feed regularly while in active growth.
Dark green leaves of Aspidistra elatior
As a testament to their toughness, aspidistras are commonly known as cast iron plants. They’re hardier than one might think, too, capable of surviving temperatures as low as -5ºC. Lush, broad leaves make them great foliage plants. Grow out of direct sunlight and feed and water regularly from spring to autumn.
A large Swiss cheese plant, Monstera deliciosa, growing up a moss pole
One of the best-loved and most popular houseplants, monsteras are exotic beauties that will reward the grower with broad leaves with little effort. Grow in a bright spot out of direct sunlight and water regularly while in active growth. Best grown with a moss pole so they can climb. Monstera adansonii is a smaller though no less attractive alternative.
Pretty pink flowers of Hoya carnosa
These twining evergreen climbers bear clusters of richly scented flowers, and enjoy growing in bright shade in a free-draining soil. Hoya carnosa and Hoya kerrii are perhaps the most commonly grown hoyas, but there are many more exciting and easily grown types to branch out into, too.
Lobed leaves of Philodendron xanadu
One of many gorgeous philodendrons to grow as houseplants, Philodendron xanadu is a clump-forming species with lobed leaves that enjoys growing in a shady location. Provide it with the humidity it enjoys by misting regularly. Other attractive philodendrons to grow include Philodendron scandens, Philodendron erubescens and Philodendron ‘Imperial Red’.
Glossy leaves of rubber plant Ficus elastica ‘Robusta’
Rubber plants, Ficus elastica, are easy evergreens to grow with glossy leaves and a stunning architectural growth habit. There are several cultivars to choose from, such as the variegated ‘Tineke’, or ‘Bali’, which has deep green-purple leaves. It’s far from the only ficus to grow, though. Others include the fiddle leaf fig, Ficus benghalensis and Ficus benjamina. Grow them in a bright spot out of direct sunlight.
Tall fronds of Chrysalidocarpus lutescens
With masses of upright, divided leaves, Chrysalidocarpus lutescens is bound to make a statement. For a similar look, you could also try growing Howea fosteriana or Chamaedorea elegans, which have slightly larger leaflets. Grow in bright light out of direct sunlight, water well when in active growth and give it a good mist regularly.
Ceropegia linearis subsp. woodii
Heart-shaped, silvered leaves and elongate purple/pink flowers of Ceropegia linearis subsp. woodii
This trailing houseplant makes a fabulous vertical accent for growing indoors. The stems can quickly reach over two metres in length and look lovely draping over the edge of a bookcase or mantelpiece. Very easy to grow, as long as it’s not overwatered, it enjoys a bright spot out of direct sunlight.
Round succulent leaves of Pilea peperomiodes
Pilea peperomioides is an easy-to-grow plant with distinctive round, succulent leaves. They’re constantly producing offsets so you’ll never be short of baby plants to give away as presents. Give it a bright spot out of direct sunlight.
Sword-shaped, upright leaves of Sansevieria trifasciata var. laurentii
The upright, sword-shaped leaves of snake plants (Sansevieria) are instantly recognisable. Sansevieria trifasciata var. laurentii has creamy margins, while Sansevieria zeylandica has lovely striated leaves. Sansevieria masoniana ‘Victoria’ has much broader leaves. Great for a bright location out of direct sunlight.
Glaucous, lobed leaves of the rabbit’s foot fern Phlebodium aureum
The rabbit’s foot fern, Phlebodium aureum, has gorgeous, glaucous leaves. These are produced from creeping rhizomes covered in lots of small hairs, giving them a furry appearance. Very easy to grow if grown in bright, indirect sunlight. Keep well watered and mist the leaves regularly.
Best houseplants to grow – maidenhair fern
The maidenhair fern, Adiantum raddianum, makes a gorgeous, leafy houseplant. Each frond bears small, delicate leaves held on contrasting dark stems. Thriving in a humid environment, it’s perfect for a steamy bathroom.
H x S: 40cm x 40cm
Best houseplants to grow – streptocarpus
Cape primrose, Streptocarpus, makes a fantastic houseplant in the British Isles. They come in a huge range of flower colours, and bloom from spring to autumn. They’re easy to grow grow them on a bright window sill away from direct sunlight, and avoid over-watering.
Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’
Best houseplants to grow – Crassula ‘Gollum’
Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ is an unusual plant with tubular, trumpet shaped leaves. It looks like a small tree, and the branching trunk becomes thick with age. It may produce clusters of small, star-like, white or pinkish-white flowers with pink stamens in winter.
H x S: 80cm x 40cm
Best houseplants to grow – Deuterocohnia lanata
Deuterocohnia lanata is a bromeliad, native to Bolivia. It bears small, sharply pointed, toothed leaves in blue-green, with reddish tips. Grow in bright light and water regularly, reducing watering in winter.
H x S: 40cm x 30cm
Best houseplants to grow – staghorn fern
Staghorn fern, Platycerium wandae, is an unusual houseplant, native to lowland rainforests of New Guinea. An epiphyte, it has large, antler-like, lobed, leathery fronds.
H x S: 2m x 2m
Best houseplants to grow – Rhipsalis
There are several varieties of Rhipsalis, which are technically a cactus, but with a beautiful trailing habit, perfect for making indoor hanging displays. Grow in bright light and water sparingly.
H x S: 20cm x 60cm
Best houseplants to grow – Caladium Bicolor
Angel’s wings. Caladium Bicolor, has beautiful heart-shaped green leaves in a variety of different colours. Grow in bright light and water freely in summer, keeping the compost completely dry in winter.
H x S: 50cm x 50cm
Best houseplants to grow – Alocasia cuprea
Best houseplants to grow – Alocasia cuprea bears large, leathery heart-shaped leaves in a variety of colours. Grow in bright light to partial shade, with a good degree of humidity – a bright bathroom is ideal.
H x S: 25cm x 25cm
Best houseplants to grow – Hippeastrum
Usually grown for Christmas, Hippeastrum (amaryllis) is a bulbous plant, bearing large, velvety flowers in a variety of colours. Plant in peat-free, multi-purpose compost around eight weeks before you want it to flower, and keep in a cool room with plenty of light to ensure it develops slowly, maintaining a strong flower shoot and leaves.
H x S: 75cm x 20cm