Which Houseplant Should You Give as a Gift This Christmas?

Indoor plants make beautiful presents. Here’s how to pick perfect blooms or foliage for everyone from your mother to your lover

Claudia De Yong
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As Christmas fast approaches, we all start thinking about what kind of gifts to buy for our loved ones. And what better pressie to give than a good-looking houseplant? But where do you start when it’s time to choose the right plant for the right recipient? And if you’re lucky enough to receive a potted plant as a gift, how do you make sure your present isn’t short-lived?

Nothing quite says Christmas houseplant like a poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima). These plants have a reputation for being hard to maintain, and many are kept as you would a bunch of flowers and thrown away when they no longer look their best. However, with a little care and attention, you can prolong their beauty.
Poinsettias need bright filtered light and should not be kept in temperatures below 12-15C. And if you are giving one as a gift, make sure you cover the delicate bracts with paper or a bag as they will go into shock when taken outside into a cold temperature. Overwatering will easily kill a poinsettia, so water sparingly and only when the top of the compost is dry. And make sure you mist regularly. Feed monthly and use a low-nitrogen, high-potassium fertiliser.
There are some lovely alternatives to the traditional red or white. For dusky pink and variegated leaves, try ‘Silver Star’; for yellow bracts try ‘Lemon Snow’. And it may be a bit harder to find, but it’s worth looking out for the fabulous deep-burgundy poinsettia ‘Cortez Burgundy’.