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Potted Plant Gifts – What Are Good Plants To Give As Gifts

Potted Plant Gifts – What Are Good Plants To Give As Gifts


By: Liz Baessler

Whether you’re looking for a Christmas gift, a housewarming present, or just a nice thank-you, potted plant gifts are both simple and unique. Keep reading for some ideas on the best houseplant gifts.

Potted Plant Gifts

When it comes to indoor plant sharing, not all potted plant gifts are the same. Unless you’re buying for someone you know has a green thumb, it’s a good idea to keep things simple. The best plants to give as gifts are beautiful yet easy to take care of. So what are good plants to give as gifts?

Here’s a list of some of the best houseplant gifts with a high aesthetic payoff for low maintenance requirements.

  • Amaryllis – The amaryllis blooms through the winter and is a welcome hint of spring at Christmas.
  • Succulents – Demanding very little water and coming in all shapes and sizes, succulents can be collected into an attractive and personalized arrangement.
  • Aloe – A popular succulent on its own, the aloe plant requires minimal water and can be used to soothe burns too.
  • Cyclamen – Another good cold weather choice, the cyclamen is compact and unique.
  • Orchid – Elegant and easily recognizable, orchids are sure to please, as long as the recipient has at least a little knowledge about their specific care.
  • Lucky Bamboo – Not really a bamboo so much as a lily, the lucky bamboo plant will grow and grow in a vase full of water in a sunny window. No dirt required!
  • Christmas Fern – A Christmas favorite because it stays green through the winter, this fern will transplant easily outside.
  • Air Plants – A really unique gift, air plants require neither dirt nor watering. Just a regular misting will keep them happy wherever you place them.
  • Paperwhite – A very low-maintenance/high reward bulb, the paperwhite will grow in anything from soil to pebbles, creating deliciously fragrant white blossoms.
  • Christmas CactusA plant that can be kept year round, the Christmas cactus will produce striking red flowers every holiday season.
  • Poinsettia – An old standby Christmas gift, the poinsettia can be kept as an attractive houseplant all year.
  • LavenderFragrant year-round, lavender in bloom makes for a beautiful purple accent, especially when replanted in the garden.
  • Potted Herbs – The most useful on the list, anything from potted oregano to rosemary will make for a fragrant home and fresh cooking ingredients. They can also be transplanted to the garden for a never-ending supply.

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With a little more than a month left in winter, and as Covid-19 restrictions continue to keep us at home, you may be looking for a way to brighten up your space. Houseplants are one solid way to spruce up any indoor space and at least create the illusion of being outdoors as we remain cooped up at home. Unsurprisingly, demand for indoor plants has boomed in recent months.

And, luckily, you don’t need a green thumb to grow your own indoor garden. Whether you live in a small apartment or large home, there’s a houseplant fit for you (and your home office). We consulted gardening experts to find the best indoor plants for various uses as well as some tips on how to get your green space going (and keeping it green, of course). Indoor plants are common across major retailers like Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart, Target and Amazon but you'll also find them at specialty online plant stores like Bloomscape, Floom, The Sill and Urbanstems.

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The Parlor Palm is a tropical choice that’s often touted for it’s ability to clear out benzene and trichloroethylene, two chemicals that are commonly spread from furniture off-gassing. It’s also really low maintenance, thriving in indirect to low light and only requiring watering once every one to two weeks, and pet-friendly, so you don’t have to worry about keeping it locked up away from your fur babies.

While the science is still out on whether or not plants really purify the air—one study says that you’d need to have about 93 of them to really notice a significant difference—there’s something about being surrounded by greenery that just makes things feel cleaner and fresher.


Houseplant comeback

Features - Trends

Tech-savvy Millennials are reviving the houseplant market. How will the latest indoor foliage trends affect growers and retailers in 2019 and beyond?

Millennials are fueling the latest surge in indoor plants.

On a plant collecting trip in the 1980s, Joy Logee acquired an unusual plant with pancake-shaped leaves that she brought back to Logee’s Greenhouses in Danielson, Connecticut. It took years to identify the untagged specimen as Pilea peperomioides , a funky tropical variety commonly known as the Chinese money plant.

It eventually faded out of Logee’s collection — until recently, when Pilea suddenly surged back into popularity, taking every plant nerd’s social media feed by storm. Pictures began popping up on Pinterest and Instagram, as design icons abroad shared updates about their precious Pilea — fueling a frenzied demand that outpaced grower supply in the United States.

Pilea gained its reputation as “The Sharing Plant,” because you had to know someone to snag a hard-to-find start. People sold Pilea pups on eBay and Etsy for shocking prices, and desperate collectors ponied up hundreds without hesitation.

Meanwhile, plant retailers like The Sill struggled to find sufficient inventory as a new generation of consumers fell in love with tropical houseplants. Although The Sill’s founder and CEO, Eliza Blank, communicates with growers regularly to anticipate demand, she says she consistently sells out of varieties like Monstera deliciosa because growers can’t keep up with trends.

“Growers don’t have a huge appetite for risk, which makes our job more difficult, because we have to wait until enough retailers ask for the same plant,” Blank says. “It’s ultimately worse for the grower, too, because as soon as growers finally caught onto the popularity of Pilea, then they weren’t making as much money as they could have if they would have been willing to be the first to grow it.”

Growers are understandably loath to take greenhouse space away from reliable crops to grow every “wacky new plant,” that Blank and other retailers request. As a result, the whole industry is feeling the pressure of a surging houseplant market, driven by trends that are redefining consumers’ relationships with plants.

Retro revival

Like Pilea, other houseplants from past decades are making a strong comeback.

When Austin Bryant browses Pinterest today, he sees houseplants that were hip in the ’70s the same types of interior tropical foliage that his parents started growing when they opened Heart of Florida Greenhouses in 1977.

“It’s a minimalist retro look,” says Bryant, head of sales at his family’s greenhouse in Zolfo Springs, Florida, “like Ficus lyrata (fiddle-leaf fig) and Monstera deliciosa (split-leaf philodendron). Those are both oldie goldies, and those are the two hottest plants you could have right now. Is this generation searching to find a connection with their grandparents? I don’t know, but I can look on Pinterest and see plants I haven’t seen in years.”

Ty Strode, vice president and director of marketing at Agri-Starts in Apopka, Florida, agrees that throwback plants are back in vogue. He says tropical foliage is an obvious choice for a new generation of plant owners, because of its low-light, easy care requirements and exotic-looking leaves.

“We’re seeing more opportunity in these funky retro plants like Pilea and Monstera, but the core crops — like Spathiphyllum (peace lily), Syngonium (arrowhead vine), Dieffenbachia (dumb cane) and Aglaonema (Chinese evergreens) — continue to be in demand, too,” Strode says. “The mainstays will always be there, but now there’s a new opportunity to reinvent these re-emerging plants.”

So, what’s different about indoor foliage this time around?

The speed of social media

The classics are still in style, but the way consumers are choosing and using houseplants has changed drastically. The biggest difference with this generation, and their most influential trendsetter, is social media.

“It wasn’t until interior designers and lifestyle influencers gained traction on visual media channels like Instagram and Pinterest that plants became as popular as they are,” says Blank, who founded The Sill as an online plant retailer in 2012 and later opened two stores in New York City. The Sill also opened a Los Angeles store in February. “It used to be that the fiddle-leaf fig tree was only known to the audience reading Architectural Digest magazines, but now that Instagram exists, it democratizes access to high design.”

From left to right: Heart of Florida Greenhouses’ Austin Bryant, Deanna Bryant, Theo Bryant, Christina Bryant and Henry Bryant

Now, photos of highly styled interiors accented with plants are making consumers green with “apartment envy,” says Mason Day, co-founder of GrowIt, a mobile app where people can share plant pictures and growing tips. As a result, young consumers see houseplants as must-have décor that makes a bold fashion statement. This nature-infused design aesthetic is pushing houseplant popularity to new heights.

“Houseplants are becoming more prevalent in all kinds of advertisements,” says Strode, who’s noticed clothing retailers adding plants to their merchandising displays for an earthy vibe. “That organic look is popular, so people are paying more attention to incorporating plants into their lives.”

The challenge is that modern plant preferences can shift at the speed of social media, and consumers might not appreciate how long it takes growers to produce those pretty plants they see online.

“It’s difficult for growers to keep up with these trends because we’re growing plants that are slow to produce, and this generation is flip-flopping faster than we can get liners in the soil,” Bryant says. “We put in orders six months prior to receiving anthurium plugs, for example, and then it takes 10 to 12 months to finish a one-gallon pot. That trend could change before the plant we ordered becomes a finished product.”

Agri-Starts’ Randy Strode (president) and Ty Strode (vice president and director of marketing

Greening up the indoors

This generation’s obsession with social media propels the houseplant market in other ways.

“It’s no secret that we’re the indoor generation, and we stare at our screens all day,” says Katie Dubow, creative director at Garden Media Group — whose 2019 Garden Media Trend Report stated that 90 percent of people spend nearly 22 hours inside every day. Americans spend 93 percent of their time inside, according to the report, while children average less than an hour outside per day — 50 percent less than their parents did as kids.

“Whether we’re doing it consciously or subconsciously,” Dubow says, “we’re putting more greenery in our homes because we’re spending more time inside.”

Last year, 30 percent of all households bought at least one houseplant, according to research from the National Gardening Association. Millennials were responsible for 31 percent of recent houseplant sales.

While design aesthetics definitely play a role, Dubow thinks our houseplant fascination stems from a deeper underlying focus on wellness and self-care.

“People understand that our surroundings where we work, live and play can affect our health and well-being,” Dubow says. “That’s one of the biggest trends causing people to turn toward houseplants, because they want to incorporate more wellness in their space.”

Research about the health benefits of plants has been around for decades — popularized by the NASA Clean Air Study published in 1989, which concluded that common indoor plants like Dracaena, Sansevieria and Spathiphyllum could remove trace toxins from the air. More recently, “Project Carbon” research from the University of Georgia, paid for by the National Foliage Foundation (now the National Horticulture Foundation, NHF) with support from Green Plants for Green Buildings and the Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association, confirmed that interior plants remove carbon from the air.

Earlier this year, the National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH) developed a series of infographics to promote the proven health and wellness benefits of houseplants. The #PlantsDoThat campaign illustrated how indoor plants can improve test scores in classrooms, lower blood pressure in hospitals and increase productivity in the workplace.

“We started the #PlantsDoThat campaign to show people what houseplants actually do in their everyday lives,” says Day, who is also the chair of the commercial council for NICH. “These benefits resonate with Millennials, because they want something that does more than just look pretty.”

According to global research firm Mintel, 52 percent of U.S. consumers buy houseplants because of their air-purifying power. Costa Farms has been highlighting the health benefits of plants since 2008, when Garden Media Group helped the nursery launch its O2 for You marketing campaign, with blog content and social media posts featuring how plants can improve air quality and boost concentration.

Bryant still sees plenty of opportunity for the green industry to leverage this type of messaging. “These benefits are brandable tools that nurseries should be using to drive the popularity of these plants,” he says. “All growers have access to this information through the NHF or NICH it’s essentially free data to help tell the story of why we should have more plants around us.”

Top 10 instagram accounts and hashtags

Supporting new plant parents

When consumers buy houseplants they spotted on social media, they expect it to look just like it did online. “Everyone knows what happens if you compare yourself to what you see on Pinterest,” Bryant says. “You’ll be disappointed, because there’s such a disconnect between the internet and reality.”

The culprit is the lack of education about plant care requirements. Young consumers may not be able to detect which plant photos have been staged for social media, versus what’s realistic in their apartment — so they need support to be successful.

“There’s been a definite spike in interest for houseplants, but that doesn’t necessarily correlate to a spike in knowledge about them,” Day says. “A lot of the questions that users post on GrowIt are focused on, ‘What’s wrong with my plant?’ or ‘How do I take care of it?’ There’s an overwhelming amount of basic information that people are looking for. That’s why we can’t just look at people as customers, but students as well.”

The biggest difference today is the new digital channels where consumers can find information. That’s why apps like GrowIt and SmartPlant exist to answer basic questions — and it’s why growers and retailers need to be looking online, too.

“[Millennials are] looking at online sources and apps for their care needs,” says Jacob Butler, director of sales for SmartPlant, an app that provides customized plant care notifications. “You’ll see more growers and retailers producing their own content to answer questions that people are searching for. Because if houseplants aren’t represented on your website, [Millennials] are going to move on to someone else.”

To connect with this tech-savvy audience, Dubow suggests using plant tags as an opportunity to engage online by including a link to your website for more information. “Drive them to your website, where you can capture their email address,” she says.

The Sill

Eliza Blank, CEO GrowIt community associate Kourtnie Nunley with some of her favorite plants

Engaging customers in ongoing education is key to building relationships that last longer than plant fads. “The best way to get a return customer is to make them feel like they have a green thumb,” Bryant says. “Everyone wants to feel successful, so it’s our responsibility as growers to put out good care information.”

The challenge, he says, is that small independent nurseries that supply IGCs don’t often have the bandwidth to market directly to consumers. So, growers and retailers have to work together.

“It starts with the grower, because you’re the expert, and retailers can’t be experts in everything they sell,” Dubow says.

Blank says retailers should take a more active role. For example, The Sill offers regular workshops and online classes, in addition to a plant helpline that customers can text with questions.

“There’s only so much that [growers] can put on a plant tag,” Blank says. “It’s really the salespeople who should be educating consumers.”

Educating a new generation of houseplant parents requires collaboration and communication.

If customers ask why a certain houseplant is so expensive, for example, retailers need to understand the slow-growing process involved in production before the plant landed on the shelf.

Tapping into growth

There’s no doubt that houseplants are back, and the growth outlook for this market is hot.

“Exploding is the only word to describe it,” Day says.

“The industry is poised for growth,” Dubow says. “I don’t see it slowing down at all.”

Growers can respond to these opportunities one of two ways: “You’ve got growers that have always grown what they grow and that’s all they’re going to grow,” Bryant says. “And then you have businesses that are willing to look outside the box.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean growers should abandon core crops and switch to Pilea production.

“What can nurseries do today to prepare for tomorrow?” Bryant says. “Well, if you’re stuck in the rut of only growing five things, try to break out of the mold and expand. You can’t look at all the shiny things flying by, but you can make small changes. Look for plant material that has similar watering and light requirements, and try it.”

In this market, diversity is key. Heart of Florida grows about 30 to 40 varieties in several pot sizes, which each require different watering schedules. “It’s a grower’s nightmare,” Bryant says. “It’s like a zoo with 40 animals, and every one of them has a different diet. We could do things a lot cheaper and easier if we only specialized in five plants, but this generation wants variety. Everyone wants something different, so it’s easier to create consistent orders when you have a wider variety of material.”

Even growers that specialize in orchids or bromeliads are driven by diversity, Bryant says, because retailers are more likely to order one case of 20 assorted colors than 20 cases of the exact same variety.

“ There’s more openness and acceptance for trialing different things than I’ve seen before,” Strode says. “People are more willing to say, ‘Sure, send me a few hundred of those to try.’ The collection mentality is coming back.”

That’s good news, if you were late to the Pilea fad, which Bryant calls “the Tickle-Me-Elmo of last year.” If you look beyond specific varieties, these short-lived fads can signal future houseplant trends. For example, Day predicts that 2019 will be the year of Peperomia, as Pilea lovers look to add different varieties to their collection. Strode also sees growth potential in other “bizarre aroids” that will follow the popularity of Monstera, but with different variegation, coloration and texture. The best way to stay on top of these houseplant trends is by staying in touch with your customers — whether that means following consumer fads on Instagram or communicating openly with retailers.

Don’t lose touch with the market because you’re too busy growing what you’ve always grown.

“If you keep your ears open, your customers will ask you for the plants they want,” Bryant says. “They’ll lead you in the right direction, because your customers are only going to want things that are selling, and if it’s selling, that’s something you want to be growing.”

Brooke is a freelance writer based in Cleveland.


16 Unique and Unusual Houseplants You Didn't Know Existed

Nature's full of surprises.

You can probably recognize a snake plant without a second glance, and a pothos plant is pretty easy to spot, too. But what about nerve plants, dolphin succulents, and hoya hearts? Nature is truly amazing in that you'll find some incredible (and strange and unusual!) plants out there, and many of them make great houseplants, too. These fascinating plants are so cool, you'll want one of each for your indoor garden—whether you're seeking a striking succulent or something bigger, bolder, and full of color. Some of these are even low maintenance enough, you can keep them in your office. (Yes, even your dark cubicle!)

Also known as Fittonia, these plants got their nickname due to their bright leaf veins. Their vibrant coloring and unusual patterns will wake up even the most boring spots in your home.

Okay, they're not technically stones, but lithops—also called pebble plants—are a strange flowering plant that mimic rocks, hence the name. The key to growing these at home? Don't overwater them.

True to its name, the tiny leaves on this sprawling succulent look exactly like swimming dolphins—it's almost too good to be true. If you want your own, the technical name for this variety is Senecio peregrinus.

Anyone who appreciates a signature red lip will love the this bright red succulent. Some are red all over, others are green with bright red tips, but in any case, Echeveria agavoides is sure to add a pop of color to any indoor garden.

Also known as the sweetheart plant, Hoya kerrii is undoubtedly the most romantic succulent out there. It's a popular gift for Valentine's Day (for obvious reasons) and is super low-maintenance when it comes to care, like most succulents. It's often sold as clippings of single leaves, as seen here, but you can also find it as a full plant with vines covered in little heart leaves.

Even though this playful plant is technically called Selenicereus anthonyanus, it's more commonly known by nicknames like the zig-zag or fishbone cactus. Like most cacti, it's relatively low-maintenance and produces colorful pink flowers when it blooms.

With bright pink stems and red or deep pink-tipped leaves, this easy-to-care for houseplant certainly makes a statement. Keep it in medium to bright indirect light and its color will be even more pronounced, but it can thrive (and stay colorful) in lower light, too.

Greenovia earned its nickname because it looks just like a rose (and you can find them in green and pink varieties), but these succulents are much easier to keep alive than flowers—all you need to do is water the top of the soil when it's dry.

Ferns come in all shapes and sizes, but the staghorn fern is one of the more unique types out there. This variety gets its name for its uniquely shaped leaves that look like, well, animal horns.

With dramatic, spiral-patterned leaves, this plant has a bit of a Tim Burton-esque feel, doesn't it? Rex Begonia is also fairly easy to care for—just make sure you don't wait too long in between waterings and give it a good misting, since it loves humidity.

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You can grow these orchid-related flowers indoors or out, but either way, their all-black appearance is pretty striking. Technically known as Tacca chantrieri, these rare flowers thrive in a warm environment.

These tiny bunnies, AKA Monilaria obconica, will eventually look unrecognizable as rabbits (their "ears" will grow longer and longer as their base stays the same), but you can't deny this succulent is irresistibly cute.

Even though it might look like it bunch of bubbles settled on it, it's actually those clumps of small rosettes made out of fleshy green leaves that make this plant so unique.

Looking more like a colorful undersea coral reef than a cactus, Euphorbia lactea is a stunning variety that will thrive in a bright environment with minimal water.

Commonly known as Donkey Tail, Sedum morganianum is a unique succulent variety that produces sprawling stems that can grow up to 24 inches long with round, blue-green leaves.

This strange, yellow and brown-banded flower gets its nickname thanks to its round, lifesaver-shaped center. Technically called Huernia zebrina, this succulent also features cactus-like foliage.


Houseplant Themed Gifts

Houseplants and Succulents are always popular, but never more so than this past year. Creek Side is working with our suppliers to offer the best selection available. For some, buying houseplants and succulents is a serious hobby and guilty pleasure. Most customers are so excited to see the wide variety that we carry.

As part of the houseplant craze, gift companies have also jumped on the bandwagon with complimentary gift items from towels and soaps to candles and more.

In our Creek Side Style, we have assembled a collection of houseplant accent gifts for your houseplant hobbyist friends and family.

Candles and Soaps

Brand new for the 2021 season, Creek Side offers a line of candles that are made in Colorado called Pearl Street Lights. Offering a wide selection of scents, but the Cactus Blossom scent is perfect for your succulent collector. Another option would be the decorative boxed soap called Pink Cactus from Michel Design. Other curiosity size candles include ones with whimsical sayings such as, “It’s not drinking alone if the plants are home.”

Tea Towels

Tea towels with houseplant related sentiments are so fun and hip. Find them in our Gift Boutique now, with more are on the way! What houseplant junkie would not love a towel that speaks to their enthusiasm of their hobby.

Notecards and Zipper Pouches

Another new gift shop addition for the 2021 season are our beautiful notecards with lovely pictures of houseplants, cactus, and other scenes. Getting a houseplant or succulent gift for a friend? Why not add a notecard specially handwritten for them? Zipper pouches with sayings such as, “You Grow Girl” are so fun and your houseplant person can use this for makeup, traveling or just as a simple pouch for keys, money, and a phone. Showing everyone that they love houseplants.

Stop in to see all our live houseplants in the Glasshouse as well as visiting our Indoor Living Gift Boutique for gifts especially for the houseplant person in your life.

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