When it comes to giving living plants as holiday gifts, or even incorporating them in your own seasonal decor, most think "poinsettia" first. While poinsettias are always a wonderful choice, with their showy red, pink and white leaves, there are other great holiday plants to consider such as amaryllis, Christmas cactus and even ferns. Plus, like a poinsettia, they can all be replanted in the garden after the season is over.
Amaryllis is a striking choice. Although many of us are used to giving (and receiving) amaryllis as bulbs, they can also be offered as potted plants.
"We grow them year-round, as they are often used as a border plants," said Steve Aumonte, owner of the Lord's Farm & Nursery, in Sebring, who mentioned he saw a beautiful amaryllis bloom earlier this week.
Lord's offers red, pink and peach colored amaryllis in both one-gallon and three-gallon pots, ranging from $6-$12. A holiday ribbon tied round the pot makes for a more festive gift. Or the plant can be repotted into a ceramic or clay pot. "They are very easy to grow," said Aumonte, who said that amaryllis likes full sun to partial shade.
Christmas cactus is also a favorite as it blooms this time of year with beautiful flowers of red, yellow, salmon, pink, fuchsia, champagne or white. Christmas cactus can also be planted outside in a shaded area once the holiday season is over. Unlike other cacti, they do not like high heat or drought. The plant will last many years and the older and larger they get, the showier they can be.
"We have many people ask for Christmas cactus," said Aumonte, "For many, it brings back the holiday memories as they had the plants in their own homes when they were growing up," said Aumonte. Lord's has Christmas cactus in stock with a choice of red, pink or champagne blooms. They are available in decorative bowls and hanging baskets.
Boston ferns, or macho ferns, are also good choices as these plants make wonderful hanging plants that are reminiscent of Victorian-age parlor rooms. Ferns do well planted outside and thrive with plenty of humidity and shade. Robbins Nursery offers these two types in both white and green pots, along with wire baskets, ranging from $9.95-$39.95.
Bromeliads are in bloom right now and can be put in a pot or in the ground. They also prefer shade. "Right now, we have bromeliad bulbs that are blooming with bright pink flowers and purple tips," said Beth Blessing, salesperson, Robbins Nursery.
Bulbs, with the promise to flowers later, are also appreciated as gifts. Gladiolus, narcissus, and Paperwhites are also available at Robbins Nursery. To make bulbs a more festive gift, one can add a colorful pot, or a glass jar, along with a small bag of soil. Although some bulbs come with planting and growing instructions, you can find out more about bulbs in a Florida garden at: http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/lawn_and_garden/bulbs.html
Seeds, instead of plants or bulbs, can make a memorable gift, especially when packaged together with other gardening items. A festive choice is Florida cranberry seeds. The seeds, along with a pair of gardening gloves and a spade, all set inside of a pot and tied with a bow, is perfect for your favorite gardener or favorite teacher.
The Florida cranberry is a member of the hibiscus family that has fruit and edible flowering leaves. The plant prefers full sun or partial shade and can tolerate most any soil that is not too dry. The seeds can be purchased online at: Onalee's Seeds, http://www.onaleeseeds.com/.
Whether it's a gift you are giving, or if you are looking to add to your own holiday décor, it's hard to go wrong with plants, bulbs or seeds that will decorate your garden long after the holidays.
For more information:
The Lord's Farm & Nursery, Inc. (Lake Placid and Orlando locations)
1993 U.S. 27
Robbins Nursery, Inc. (2 locations)
4803 U.S. 27
2424 US Hwy 27 N