Holiday Gifts for the Gardener - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

Holiday Gifts for the Gardener

‘Tis the season for giving, so why not give a gift that lasts all year? A plant is a special gift that brings beauty to the home and to the heart as you help a living thing grow.

The poinsettia is undoubtedly the most popular gift plant, but many others are equally festive for the holiday season. Christmas cactus, begonias, cyclamen and azaleas offer attractive blossoms on compact plants and can brighten any room in the house. Jerusalem cherry and ornamental pepper plants feature festive fruits in celebration of the season.

Try to match the gift to the recipient in terms of the kind of care the plant needs. Christmas cactus will need bright sunlight to continue blooming and growing after the holidays, as will Jerusalem cherry and ornamental pepper plants. Most flowering plants, including azaleas, begonias and cyclamen, will tolerate indirect bright light but demand cool temperatures, especially at night. Jerusalem cherries are poisonous, so they are best suited for families that do not have young children.

Some gift plants will continue to bloom throughout the new year if given proper care. Others may need a period of rest before they can be brought back to life. Ask the sales clerk for a plant-care sheet when you make your purchase. Or, include a book on plant care as part of your present.

For those who don’t happen to be endowed with a “green thumb,” consider a flowering bulb that can be discarded after blooms have finished. Florists will have a good selection of potted bulbs already in bloom. Many garden suppliers carry flowering bulb packages for forcing into color indoors. Amaryllis, tulips, hyacinths and paper-white narcissus are among the favorites.

A plant makes a great gift, but be sure your gift is delivered with the same care you took to select it. During cold weather, even the healthiest plant can be damaged during delivery. Cold and wind exposure for as short a period as it takes to walk to your car can damage some plants. Be sure the salesperson wraps your purchase in floral wrapping paper to protect it from cold temperatures and wind. Get the plant from the store to your car as quickly as possible. If the temperature is below freezing, preheat the car beforehand to prevent further chilling injury.
A plant left in an unheated car can be injured or killed quickly, so drop it off at home before running other errands. If the plant must be in cold air for any length of time, insulate it by placing it in a box with several layers of newspaper bundled around the top as well as around the container. Roots can be injured by chilling too. Packing the plant in a box with newspaper also will help protect it from tipping over. Besides breaking stems and leaves, tipping often causes soil to spill from the pot, breaking roots along the way.

If giving a plant isn’t feasible, there are many other ideas for your gardening friends and family. Good gardening tools often head the gardener’s wish list. A sturdy new rake, hoe or spade can save both time and a tired back for the busy gardener. Small hand tools, such as pruners, trowels and cultivators, are handy both inside and out. For bulb gardeners, a long-handled bulb planter or a bulb drill bit can help make the job easier.

Indoor gardeners would surely appreciate a lighting system to help their houseplants thrive during dreary winter months. Lighting systems can be as small as a fluorescent tube or as large as a multiple-shelved unit.
Gardening books are available on a wide variety of subjects and can help your special gardener improve his or her gardening skills. “Possum in the Pawpaw Tree; A Seasonal Guide to Midwestern Gardening,” published by the Purdue University Press, is available in local bookstores or directly from Purdue Press by calling (800) 933-9637.

Purdue Extension has a number of CD-ROMs of interest to gardeners including titles on Plant Propagation, Vegetable Gardenering, The Master Gardener Handbook Companion, and Fifty Trees of Indiana, all available through the Purdue Education Store by calling toll free to (888) EXT-INFO.

If you’re still undecided on a gift for your gardener, try a gift certificate from their favorite seed company or local garden shop. Give a membership to a nearby botanic garden, conservatory or arboretum. Or, send them a subscription to a garden magazine.


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Disclaimer: Reference to products is not intended to be an endorsement to the exclusion of others which may have similar uses. Any person using products listed in these articles assumes full responsibility for their use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.
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