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How to make a gift plant

Low-maintenance plants make wonderful gifts. Here are a few tips on how to create wonderful, living keepsakes for any occasion.

If you are looking for something unique for gift giving, try making your own potted creations. It's easy and, with a little imagination, you can create one-of-a-kind potted plants that the recipient will love.

First, plan to have a few supplies on hand so you will have time to make a truly wonderful setting for the plant and be able to handle any last-minute giving situations.

Always keep bags of potting soil, peat moss, and vermiculite on hand. You will also need gravel for the bottoms of your pots or any item that will create an umbrella over the drainage hole. You may also wish to include charcoal for an additional layer between the gravel and the dirt.

Clear containers work well for both freshly cut flowers and as terrariums. If you are filling a clear container, consider using colored aquarium gravel in the bottom. You can be creative here, too. Make a layer of marbles or use a handful of golf balls instead of gravel. Your flowers may not last forever, but the person who receives this gift will be able to reuse the container and its contents. Tie a pretty ribbon around the top and you are done.

Begin collecting containers of different styles. Visit local discount stores and look for interesting ceramic vases, bowls, and baskets. Other ideas for containers include cookie or storage jars. Simple clay pots can be dressed up with glued-on embellishments. Use a base of spray paint, add a few painted designs, or create a faux finish for a fun, trendy, or elegant gift.

If your pot does not have drainage holes, you can fill it with plants that love water, such as ferns or peace lilies. You can also create a pot-within-a pot. Simply place the plant in a smaller pot with saucer and set it inside the gift container. Add some type of weight to prevent dislodging the plant.

One important rule for giving plants: make sure they are easy to care for and will have the proper environment in their new home. Each plant species requires varying amounts of light, humidity, and temperature. You do not want to create a burden on the gift recipient unless you know they love plants and will know what type of care is involved.

Here is a short list of flowering and foliage plants that make great gifts.

Begonias. You will find plenty of choices within the Begonia family. As a whole, they do well indoors with a little extra humidity. Some of them flower throughout the winter. They require good sunlight until temperatures rise; then, they should receive filtered light.

Kalanchoe beharensis (felt plant) and Kalanchoe blossfeldiana. These two members of the Kalanchoe group store water in their leaves, which means they are succulents. They do well indoors in full sun. The second variety listed here can be set outside in summer.

Peace Lily. Also known as Spathiphyllum or White Flag. A wonderful indoor plant that requires filtered, offset light and humidity. Keep the soil moist at all times as they are water-loving plants and enjoy tropical conditions. However, these plants will typically bounce back under some abuse.

Peperomia. Available in several types; generally remains small. These plants do well in terrariums. They do best in cool temperatures and high humidity, but do adjust to average home temperatures.

Geraniums. A huge family with hundreds of varieties. Any of these make great gift plants because they require very little attention. Full sun, a dry spot, and do not overwater. Some varieties have scented leaves (including rose and peppermint) and make a cheery addition to a kitchen windowsill.

Chrysanthemum. Mums can be purchased at growers in blooming form all year long. After the blooms die, cut them off. Remove stems from the pot, separate them, and plant outdoors. They will flower again the next year.

Whenever you are gifting someone with flowers, it is helpful to provide instructions on specific plant care. If you have experience with the plant you are giving, you will know its little quirks or what you can get away with in the lack of care.

There is no limit to ideas for presenting plants in your own gift packaging. Whether cut fresh or in planted form, you can be proud of the time and effort put into such a special gift.

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