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Select the right holiday plant for gift giving

The fragrant blooms of the Paperwhite Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus), a signature flower of the cold season, are grown indoors from forced bulbs.
The fragrant blooms of the Paperwhite Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus), a signature flower of the cold season, are grown indoors from forced bulbs.

Gifting a holiday plant to someone can add a bit of color and cheer to a home that can brighten the holiday season for the recipient. However, if the recipient does not have the correct conditions for maintaining the plant it may not be the pleasant experience you had hoped for. Selecting the right plant for the recipient’s environment is important.

Poinsettias are a classic holiday gift but may not be ideal for every situation. Poinsettias do not like drafts — both hot and cold drafts will result in premature leaf drop. Be sure that the plant will be protected in the transfer from the purchase site to the recipient’s site. Poinsettias like cooler temperatures at 65 to 70 degrees. Areas where the temperature is closer to 80 degrees will shorten the life of the plant. If the leaves of the plant touch a cold window it will result in leaf drop. The plant will need to be watered regularly and does not like being in standing water. If a pot is wrapped in a bright shining wrap this wrap will hold water to the detriment of the plant. Instruct the recipient to punch holes in the bottom of the foil wrap and set the plant in a dish to catch excess water.

Christmas cactus also is a popular plant to gift at this time of year. The cactus is meant to be enjoyed now and will not rebloom until next year with proper care. This plant may not be the plant of choice for someone who does not have the facilities to keep it until next year or the inclination to want to keep a plant year round. If the plant is in full bloom or showing lots of buds, realize that a change in temperature or light will result in bud and flower drop much to the dismay of the recipient.

An inclusive Amaryllis kit also is a fun gift. The bulb will come with the pot, compressed soil and a bulb. All ready for the recipient to plant. This plant will get tall so a stake to anchor the stem and flower may be helpful to the recipient. Again this may not be appropriate for the person who does not want to or is not able to pot the bulb.

Paperwhite narcissus is a popular bulb, which is easy to grow because they can be grown in rocks, glass beads or even marbles. These can be planted by the giver and delivered to the recipient. All the recipient has to do is add water, set it in a well lit area and watch it grow into a white flower that is attractive and fragrant. The bulb can be discarded after it blooms because it is very difficult to get it to bloom again.

Give some thought to your recipient’s needs and capabilities and select the appropriate plant which could be the highlight of their holiday season. Happy plant gifting!

• For gardening questions, call the Linn County Extension Master Gardener Hortline at (319) 447-0647.

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