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The Best Plant Gifts to Give and Receive

Give a gift that will keep on growing. Find the best plant gifts for any occasion, from African violets to orchids, and learn how to care for them.

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PaperwhitesValter Jacinto/Getty Images

Paperwhites Plant Gifts

Narcissus papyraceus, Zones 8 to 10

The pale, delicate blooms are lovely, but it’s the fragrance that makes paperwhites such a winner among plant gifts. In the darkest days of winter, these couldn’t-be-easier bulbs evoke the scent of spring. After forcing, you have to wait only four to six weeks before you start to see the blooms.

Why we love paperwhites: It doesn’t even need soil to grow. Place bulbs in a shallow dish of stones, with the tops exposed and water just reaching the bottom of the bulb.

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Begonia plant giftsCourtesy Gabriel Zimmer

Begonia

Begonia spp., Zones 8 to 11

These old-fashioned favorites welcome indirect bright light and infrequent watering. They also appreciate some humidity, so set the pot over a pebble-filled saucer of water.

Why we love begonias: With hundreds of species and cultivars, there truly is a begonia for everyone. For interesting foliage, try Angel Wing begonias. If you prefer blossoms, tuberous begonias are the way to go. Any type can be transplanted outside.

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Lemon tree plant giftsAndrew_Mayovskyy/Getty Images

Lemon tree

Citrus limon, Zones 9 to 11

Tuck a lemon tree into a sunny corner during the cold months, then move the pot to the patio for summer. Dwarf varieties grow only 4 to 6 feet tall and behave more like a bush than a tree.

Why we love lemon trees: The sweet scent of citrus blossoms can turn a home into a Southern paradise. A dwarf Meyer lemon makes the perfect glass of lemonade, and the plant is suited for pots.

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Orchid in potLeslie Banks/Getty Images

Orchid

Phalaenopsis spp., Zones 10 to 12

Don’t be intimidated by these tropical treasures as plant gifts. Phalaenopsis, also called moth orchid, is both easy to care for and requires little more than a weekly watering, filtered light and protection from drafts. Check out our best tips for orchid care.

Why we love orchids: Nothing adds a note of elegant beauty to a home quite like an orchid. The blooms last for weeks and some orchids boast a lovely scent.

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AmaryllisCourtesy John Doyle

Amaryllis

Hippeastrum spp., Zones 8 to 10

Big, brilliant amaryllis blooms stand tall on strong stems in a variety of hues, such as white, red, pink and orange. With proper care, the bulbs will flower year after year. For extra flair, seek out types like butterfly amaryllis (H. papilio), which has maroon and white stripes.

Why we love amaryllis: Waxed amaryllis bulb kits are readily available during the holiday season and require little effort to produce a striking display in your home.

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African violets plant giftsDifydave/Getty Images

African violet

Streptocarpus ionanthus, Zones 11 to 12

Although a common plant gift, African violets can be a little fussy. They’re finicky about water, preferring to be consistently moist. Be careful when watering. If you splash cold water on a leaf, it may develop a spot. Here’s the best time to water plants. Once you find the right windowsill and watering schedule, this gem rewards you with a burst of color.

Why we love African violets: The flowers come in many shades, including white, pink, maroon and just about every hue of purple.

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Peace lilygavran333/Getty Images

Peace lily

Spathiphyllum spp., Zones 11 to 12

The broad shining leaves of the peace lily are set off by white bracts that form a hood over tiny off-white flowers. Give this houseplant bright indirect light for a few hours a day to encourage flowering.

Why we love peace lilies: A peace lily is as low maintenance as it gets for plant gifts. The only thing to be careful of is watering. Keep the soil moist and always pour off excess saucer water.

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Kalanchoecocone/Shutterstock

Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, Zones 10 to 12

This succulent with thick leaves thrives in winter in an indoor, low-humidity environment. During this usually dull time, the kalanchoe plant produces masses of tiny florets.

Why we love kalanchoe: The brilliant red, pink, orange or white blooms show up when they’re needed the most and last for months on end. When they are gone, the attractive, shiny foliage makes a nice display on its own.

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Red poinsettiaMarcia Straub/Getty Images

Poinsettia

Euphorbia pulcherrima, Zones 9 to 11

A beloved Christmas classic, poinsettias show off their holiday colors when nights are long and days are short. Keep the soil moist but not wet, and protect plants from chilly drafts.

Why we love poinsettias: Look for new, delicate white and pink varieties of this familiar red gift plant. Jingle Bell Rock has brilliant red leaves with white spots.

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Gardenia flowersLFO62/Getty Images

Gardenia

Gardenia jasminoides, Zones 8 to 11

Gardenias need a bit more care than some plant gifts, but you will be rewarded with striking white flowers against dark foliage. Give them bright sun at least six hours a day and grow in moist, acidic soil.

Why we love gardenias: The waxy, sweetly perfumed blooms make the extra fuss worthwhile. White Gem is a dwarf variety that’s perfect for growing in pots.

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Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find he reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.