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Plants Make Memorable, Lasting Holiday Presents
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Plants can make memorable gifts for the hard-to-buy-for person on anyone's list this holiday season.
Unlike many other gifts, plants are easy to shop for, come in colors and sizes to please almost anyone, and can last for years with proper care.
Norman Winter, horticulture specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said plants make good planned or last-minute gifts.
"Plants make excellent last-minute gifts because they are so widely available," Winter said. "You can pick them up in nurseries, garden centers and florist shops.
Plants also make welcome gifts for co-workers or your favorite group of workers.
"Co-workers can enjoy their plants on their desks in the office before the holidays and take them home to enjoy with their families," Winter said.
Blooming holiday plants, such as the poinsettia, are very popular as gifts and can last several weeks. Non-blooming green plants can be decorated to reflect the holiday season.
"Potted green plants can be decorated with red or gold foil, bright bows and small, festive ornaments," Winter said. "With proper care, a potted plant can easily last five years or longer."
Norfolk Island pines are popular live Christmas gifts. These trees can easily be decorated like Christmas trees and will live for years if given proper care.
Other popular holiday gift plants include cyclamens, popular for their red, pink, purple or white blooms; winter flowering begonias in different colors; and gloxinias and African violets in a wide range of colors, popular for repeated blooming.
"Christmas pepper plants make unusual gifts," Winter said. "The small, ornamental plants have colorful peppers -- usually red -- and bright green foliage."
One of the hot new varieties this year is called Medusa. The pepper is edible, not hot and gives a wide range of colors on one plant. The peppers stand up all over the plant in a twisted contorted look that is pretty and unique.
A blooming Christmas cactus makes a colorful gift that will last for years. Most Christmas cacti bloom between the Thanksgiving holidays and Christmas. They are easy to get to re-bloom each year.
"One plant that is really starting to find its niche in the holiday market is the upright rosemary that has been pruned to resemble a miniature Christmas tree," Winter said. "The rosemary is fragrant, pretty and offers use for culinary purposes."
For far-away friends and relatives, potted, dormant amaryllis bulbs make good gifts that are easily shipped. Many bulb companies offer the dormant bulbs as a gift selection, including the potted bulb and directions for care.
When purchasing or wiring plants for gifts, make sure complete instructions for care of the plant will be included.
For maximum holiday enjoyment, Winter suggested keeping plants away from drafts, in bright light, but not direct sun, and in moist but not wet soil.