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Houseplants make wonderful gifts for almost all occasions, but how do you make the right choice? Here is a short guide on why plants make the perfect gift and some suggestions about what might be the best present ever received.
Why plants are great gifts
“It's the thought that counts.”
Quite possibly, this is one of the most depressing phrases in the English language. The thought behind a gift is terribly important, and it is almost always well intentioned. But sometimes, that thought leads to a present that is also a little misguided or impractical (or really disliked), and sometimes it is hard to hide your disappointment, which can be hurtful.
How many times have you received a gift that, in truth, you would never use, but which you felt obliged to keep in case the giver visited and wondered where it was? Have you ever received gifts of food that were quietly put out with the rubbish, unopened, or passed on to friends? Perhaps your local charity shop has benefitted from your unwanted presents.
One gift that rarely fails to give pleasure, however, is a houseplant.
Whatever the occasion, houseplants make superb presents and the recipient is always likely to be glad to receive one. It is hard to imagine anyone taking offence when given a plant.
Why would that be?
First, they are living things. We have an innate need to be close to life and our instincts seem to be to want to nurture and preserve it. We imbue plants with personalities and often give them names, just as we do our pets. I recall several occasions when working in offices that an old, rather dishevelled plant that was due for replacement got saved by someone begging for “Harry” to be left alone because he was part of the family. (Harry the plant might then have found a new home at the office worker’s house that evening, as the manager really did insist on Harry’s retirement).
Next, it is hard to imagine any room in a home that couldn’t be made better by having a plant or more in them. No matter the decorative style, a plant will fit in (although you might need to think about the pot you use - read on for more about that subject).
Finally, they last. Most houseplants will live for a few years, and some for a few decades. A box of chocolates or a bottle of wine, on the other hand, might last just a couple of days. A well-chosen houseplant will always be a reminder of the occasion you received it as a gift. You might even be able to take cuttings from it to grow and pass on as gifts in the future.
Gifts for friends and family
There are so many occasions when a gift is appropriate. Birthdays and Christmas are most obvious, but the birth of a child or an engagement or wedding would also be suitable occasions. Perhaps someone has just retired or they have recovered from a serious illness. Another opportunity to give a gift is if someone has a new job or has been promoted.
Knowing someone well means that you probably know something of the way they live. You might have visited their home, or at least seen pictures, and this gives you the opportunity to create a really personalized present.
If you know the recipient’s likes and dislikes, as well as the decorative style and even which rooms have the best light, you can go to town with the plant and pot selection tools that we have on the foli8 website.
As the country carefully reopens after the dreadful pandemic many office workers are going to find that they will still be spending a lot of time working from home - hybrid styles of working seem set to become more common as both employers and employees discover new ways of working.
As an employer, you might wish to recognise the hard work and inconvenience that long-term working from home has caused your staff, especially for those for whom setting up a long-term purpose-built home workspace has proved difficult. Alternatively, as you move towards a time when some degree of homeworking is going to continue, you might recognise that plants are just as essential to the home office as a good chair and light - just as you would find in the corporate office.
What better way to recognise the efforts of your colleagues than to give them a houseplant. As we mentioned before, plants are an ideal gift as they are alive and need nurturing. In the context of the workspace they really do help to induce a sense of well-being and create a reconnection with nature.
In a previous article on biophilic design for home workers, we wrote about ways of making the home office a more comfortable place to be. Indoor plants are obvious additions.
Choosing plants for someone else's home office might be a bit of a challenge. You may never have visited your colleagues’ homes and your only clue about decor and the working environment might be what you have seen during many Zoom calls.
You could play safe and select plants from the low light range to be sure that the plants you give stand a good chance of a long life. A neutral pot would also be a sensible choice. However, you might wish to consider a foli8 gift card as an alternative. Then, your colleague has the ability to personalise the home office and benefit from some biophilic design courtesy of their concerned employer. It might be the case that your colleague already has a plant and needs the perfect pot to go with it, or has a nice big empty pot available, allowing them to choose a bigger plant to fit it.
Recently, there has been a bit of a boom in-house sales. People are moving house more than they have for a long time. This has been driven partly by the pandemic. People are thinking about homes with space to work, and also homes further away from the office if commuting becomes less of an issue.
Whatever the reasons for a house move, people moving home always welcome a small gift from friends and family to welcome them to their new house. One such gift that will always be popular is a houseplant. They bring new life into a home and immediately make your new house seem welcoming.
Often, when you move into a new home the decor is not what you would necessarily choose for yourself. One way that you can immediately stamp your own personality on your new home is with the addition of a few houseplants. These can be used to distract you from, or to hide, the worst crimes against good taste that the previous owners have inflicted.
Give a plant gift with a pot
Whereas almost every plant will fit almost every location in a house, one thing that needs to be taken into account is the decorative style. This is where choosing the right pot becomes important.
Here at foli8, we have a great range of beautiful decorative plant pots that will suit all plants and in all their different sizes. This is where you can make a real personal impact with your gift.
Pots and planters come in all sorts of shapes, colours, textures and sizes. Some are especially suited to quite traditional settings, such as a country cottage or period townhouse, whereas others seem destined for chic penthouses or converted factory lofts. There are, of course, classic styles that will work in any situation - they might be considered a safe choice, but versatile might be a better word.
Don't forget that you can also get pots that hang rather than sit on a surface. These are ideal for plants with a long trailing vine such as this creeping fig (Ficus pumila), which is very popular, or if you need to keep surfaces clear.
Another style you might want to consider is a pot with legs. These are very trendy at the moment and perfect if the recipient of your gift is a follower of interior design fashion.
By lifting the bulk of a pot from the floor, they also allow light to come from underneath, giving a sense of lightness as well as making the plant display taller too. Great for large houseplants.
Need some more plant inspiration? See all of our best-selling plants or get style envy in our new lookbook.
By Kenneth Freeman