Houseplant as housewarming gift ideas?

My sister is moving into a new house on the first of the month and I want to get her a little something as a housewarming gift. There’s nothing of a practical nature that she particularly needs or wants so I thought about getting her a plant.

First of all, is this a bad idea?

Second, do you have any specific suggestions for me. What are you favorite attractive, robust and negligent tolerant plants? Her new house has a wonderful south-east facing bay window seat that has a row of ceiling hooks for hanging plants but of course it wouldn’t have to go there.

Any thoughts?

I certainly don’t think it’s a BAD idea. A person who loves plants will love it; a person who hates plants will love killing it. What’s the down side?

Negligence-tolerant plants include cactuses (Christmas cactuses even bloom pretty colors), succulents, spider plants, and croton. Croton is the one with yellow, red, and orange striped leaves… they’re really cool and really easygoing.

I think its a great idea, but I like plants.

Hoya are tough to kill and their blooms are wonderfully fragrant. They love to hang.
Tradescantia (Wandering Jew) are tough to kill and the foliage is a beautiful green with purple undersides.

African violets are tough to kill, but its hard as hell to keep them blooming, at least I’ve not been particularly successful, so while it will look great in the store, I’d recommend avoiding them.

Many thanks Sattua and otternell.

One other thing I should mention. She has three housecats that generally don’t cause problems but I know that at least some plant are toxic to felines.

If she doesn’t have plants or doesn’t want to take care of a plant…I hope you don’t mind watching it die.

How about a new “welcome mat” for her front door. Everyone that moves into a new place needs one of those.

Or a new shower liner. No one moves their old one with them.

If you know she likes house plants, then this is a lovely idea.

This should be helpful in determining what is toxic for kitties.

Hoya is not! (also called an old fashioned wax plant)

There are some possible down sides;

Plants poisonous to pets or children.
Plant allergies.
Person never home to take care of it.

If, for example, I had a cat that loved chewing on plants, and someone gave me a Lily, I could not accept it.

I’ve seen one plant or another at her old house several times but almost never the same plant twice in a row (I think). I know nothing about houseplants so I couldn’t guess how long any particular plant might live or what kind of care it requires. I’m guessing that she buys a plant that she likes, keeps it for a while and then either gives it away or discards it.

Have you considered getting a fake plant?

When I bought my house I was determined to get a ficus but found they were expensive. I finally found one that was a great deal and I still have it up, 5 years later.

There are a lot of beautiful fake plants out there. For me, it’s something that I’d want to have in my house but not something I’d want to buy. YMMV.

I second the recommendation of a Hoya. (I came in to post just that, and found it already mentioned.) Attractive leaves, would love a southeast window, are forgiving of under-watering, and have interesting flowers. In general, a very good plant for someone who might like a plant or two, but is not really into fussing with them.

I would also warn against the Croton that was recommended, if your friend isn’t really into plants. In 30+ years of houseplant growing, I’ve owned several, and the last word I’d use to describe them is “easygoing”. They are prone to spider mites and mealybugs, need lots of sun to keep their color, and are very unforgiving if one forgets to water.

ETA: I wouldn’t get a fake plant for anyone without checking first. Some people really loathe them, no matter how realistic. Even if a person wouldn’t be thrilled with caring for a live plant in the long run, they can be treated sort of like a longer-lasting floral arrangement and tossed, with the excuse “I’m not really good with plants”. An expensive fake plant one doesn’t like might not be as easy to get rid of tactfully.

A pair of hoya to frame the window seat sounds like just the thing for her. The pictures I’ve found online look nice and they show up on otternell’s non-toxic list so they seem like a winner.

Many thanks!

When I go to a housewarming, I always like to do what Donna Reed did in “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

Bread… that this house may never know hunger.
[Mary hands a loaf of bread to Mrs. Martini]
Salt… that life may always have flavor.
[Mary hands a box of salt to Mrs. Martini]
George Bailey: And wine… that joy and prosperity may reign forever. Enter the Martini Castle.
[George hands Mr. Martini a bottle of wine]

I like that.

I often give plants too, cactuses or succulents. Those are both very difficult to kill. Much better than an item which might not match their taste or colour scheme. TBH, I thought a houseplant was a traditional housewarming gift.

I’m not a big fan of houseplants, but I can think of two things that might be cool.

  1. Aloe, in the kitchen. Aloe is great for burns and my grandmother always kept a plant in the windowsill in her kitchen in case she burned herself. She’d snap off an end of the plant, apply the gooey stuff, and get back to cooking. I have several around my house for the same reason. (Awesome for sunburn.)

  2. A little kitchen herb garden that can go in a windowsill. Then your friend can snip off bits of fresh herbs while in the middle of cooking. That’s a gift that keeps on giving! You can often find little kits complete with soil, pots, and seeds, at places like Target. If the person isn’t really a plant person, she can simply re-gift.

Another hot little tip: Twice now I have given friends little gardens in their yards. One was a butterfly garden with all pink flowers (at my friend’s request). The other was an herb garden. I’d take my tools over to my friend’s house, dig a little bed, plant a few things, and then leave my friend with instructions on how to take care of the garden. You can do this in a container as well, although large containers are quite expensive (unless you or your friend have something suitable laying around that could be repurposed, like a recycling bin or something). I’d strongly suggest, if you do something like this, that you choose native-to-your-area, drought-tolerant (in case they forget to water), perennials (bloom over and over each year so no replanting). If you go with that, you can create a low- or zero-maintenance garden that your friend will enjoy for years to come. It takes me the better part of the day and both times, my friend helped out with the digging, so we had a little bonding experience/quality time. Friends (and family) really appreciate the gift of time and sweat equity and every time they look out at their little garden, they think of their gardener friend who put it there. And I don’t have to keep looking for new space to plant new things; I just commandeer someone else’s yard.

If it’s someone who likes or is indifferent towards plants but terrible at caring for them, so you’ve now saddled them with something that they feel they have to care for, even if they don’t want to, because it was a gift?

This sounds totally awesome, if it’s something the giftee would be up for. I can get a garden plot at my apartment (or I could put pots/boxes on my balcony), but I’ve just never found the motivation to get started. If I had a gardenish friend to help me set things up, that would be an amazing gift.

I’d agree about some plants, but a lot of succulents, including aloe vera as mentioned above, really don’t need caring for - they just need a little water now and then (weekly’s more than enough). There’s a succulent on one of my indoor windowsills that got lost behind a curtain and completely forgotten about for months and months, and it’s doing fine.

Trust me–even consistent *weekly *watering is beyond some people (I’ve been one of them; it’s amazing that I still have any plants left at all). Being given a plant can be hugely stressful if you feel like you’re going to fuck it up. (Compare this to someone like my mother, who started *crying *when her brother gave her a diamond bracelet for her birthday–not out of joy, but because she was *freaking out *because now she had this expensive piece of jewelry to keep track of.) It’s not necessarily logical, but it’s how some people react.

But I said weekly’s more than enough, and mine survived months with no water at all. (It’s not the only one that’s happened to, either).

I guess if someone’s going to freak out over watering a plant every now and then, then this is probably something their friends will be aware of.

Do you have any friends who don’t have any plants at all? Have you ever *asked *them why they don’t have plants?