Christmas this year seems a bit different. After a year of disruption from Covid-19 the international supply chain for many goods that would be given as Christmas gifts has broken.
Luckily for the increasing number of new and established keen gardeners, plants themselves are not affected as they are all grown right here in New Zealand.
There are many gardening gift options available - and often for the gardener a garden gift voucher is like gold. There are so many things to choose from at a garden centre these days, from gifts and homewares, garden art, statues, water features and outdoor décor. Then there are all the garden care and tool items, not forgetting lots of plants.
This year indoor plants are top of many people's Christmas list. Indoor plants have been rediscovered in the past few years. Health benefits of clean air from having plants indoors has been promoted, as well as the aesthetic appeal as they complement modern décor, bringing life and vitality. A healthy addiction, collecting plants may cost a little but will likely improve your mental, physical and emotional health.
12 Top indoor plant gifts for Christmas
1. Phalaenopsis orchid: Are the world's number one selling indoor plant. Sold in flower, they will continue with their flowering for another incredible 4-6 months. As soon the flowers drop, the stem can be trimmed to highest node below the finished flower. Often this will stimulate another flower stem to develop from this point in the stem. Following another 4-6 months of flowering the stem should be completely removed. In the following 6-10 months a new flower stem should develop and the process starts again. To ensure flowering success, these orchids should be fed weekly to fortnightly with liquid orchid fertiliser when in flower.
2. Poinsettia: The bright red foliage screams "Christmas" and can add some festive cheer as a centrepiece on the dinner table or elsewhere around the home. They are an interesting plant with the foliage turning red with shortening day length. The association of Christmas and poinsettias comes from the northern hemisphere where winter and Christmas is a natural occurrence. In New Zealand, to have red poinsettias for Christmas, growers draw blinds on the greenhouses where they are grown to shorten the day length thus duping the plants into producing the red foliage. Once purchased from the store and taken home the plants won't quickly revert but will maintain their red show well beyond the festive season.
3. Venus fly traps: A popular gift to kids. The intriguing traps on this carnivorous plant really capture the imagination of children. Coming into the season of flies they have the added bonus that they may just help reduce this pesky population.
4. Peace lily (spathiphyllum): Dubbed as "the clean air plant", it has a proven feature of improving the air quality around where it grows. A popular choice in the home and office, the peace lily is tough and handles a range of conditions. Regular feeding with Ican Fast Food will promote good flowering.
5. Flamingo flower (Anthurium): These offer attractive colourful flowers on lushly attractive heart-shaped leaves. There is quite a range of colours available that can make you wonder if the plant you are looking at is real or plastic. There are purples, whites, pinks as well as numerous shades of red. The flamingo flower performs best in a bright sunny room but out of the direct sunlight. Regular feeding each month with Ican Fast Food will ensure your plant stays healthy and produces numerous flowers.
6. Bromeliad: These offer some vibrant colour and nice structural form to any indoor space. They also are a bit of fun to grow. The plants last as long as they flower which is usually 3-6 months from purchase. As the flower dies, the plant produces pups and the centre of the plant dies. These pups can be removed from the dying mother plant and potted individually. Multiple plants will result, increasing your indoor plant collection.
7. String of pearls: This hanging succulent looks very smart sitting on a side table or high shelf where its fleshy beads can hang. It is very easy care and, as a member of the succulent family, it copes well with irregular and limited watering.
8. Fruit salad plant (Monstera): This plant has huge tropical appeal with its large, lush green leaves with holes in them, from which its other common name "swiss cheese plant" is derived. It is actually a climbing plant in its natural state so a large pot and reasonable space will be necessary if you want it to be a long-term fixture.
9. Mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria): The name is something to take into consideration if this plant is to be a gift. This is currently one of the hottest plants on the indoor plant fashion block. Its hard-to-kill reputation and attractive structural form offer an attractive statement in a room. The mother-in-law's tongue is great for a warmer situation in a bright well-lit room. It is best kept on the dry side – almost thriving on neglect as overwatering will bring it to a quick demise.
10. ZZ plant (Zamioculas Zamiifolia Zanzibar): This is the perfect gift for anyone who struggles to keep indoor plants alive. It is regarded as the toughest of the tough. It is tolerant of quite dark conditions through to brightly lit areas. Its enemy is water so if you forget to water this plant then you are doing it a favour. It has a highly attractive clumping-like form with a deep glossy green colour on the wide fern-like leaves.
11. Philodendron: There are a number of varieties of philodendron available. They are happy in a generally well-lit situation out of direct sunlight. They give a stylish tropical look and the different varieties offer great variation. They are a good species of indoor plant as they are generally adaptable to quite a wide range of conditions, so they are regarded as tough and easy care.
12. Tradescantia zebrina: A beautiful and fast-growing indoor plant, the leaf colours are purple, green and grey, while the undersides are more purple in colouring. The combination is certainly eye-catching and highly attractive. In a hanging basket it trails beautifully over the sides. Fairly easy care, it prefers to be kept on the drier side, particularly during the winter months.
Happy Christmas and enjoy the garden and outdoors.
•Gareth Carter is general manager of Springvale Garden Centre