If you’ve got some secret Santa gift exchanges coming up this season with coworkers, friends, or family, there’s a good chance you’re struggling to choose a gift. You want to give something interesting, inspiring, and enjoyable—even to the coworker you barely know. No one really needs more coffee mugs, ties, or sweaters.
Have you ever thought about giving houseplants as gifts? Plants liven up homes and offices and have been proven to improve our health, both mental and physical. Plants also pull toxic chemicals out of the air to keep us breathing easier, and just looking at plants can cheer us up and lift our spirits.
If you’re worried that your recipient might kill a houseplant, don’t be. There are plenty of very resilient plants that will survive a surprising amount of neglect. And if your self-professed black thumb friends get to see a plant survive and even thrive under their care, it might just inspire a little more interest in plants—and that’s always a good thing!
Best Indoor Plants To Give As Gifts
Don’t just run out and buy the first cute houseplant you see, though. If you’re gifting plants, especially to someone new to plant care, you want to make sure you get them rugged plants that are easy to maintain. A fickle elephant ear alocasia might perfectly match for your friend’s decorating style, but it needs to match their lifestyle as well.
These are our favorite plants to give during the holidays. Each one is resilient enough to survive a few care mistakes while still looking fabulous!
The dracaena genus of plants includes about 120 different species of trees and shrubs. They’re mostly tough desert dwellers, and store plenty of water in their trunks to last through long droughts (like when your friend forgets to water them). They come in a wide variety of different colors and shapes—some have wide, strong, spikey leaves, and some have thin, long, delicate leaves.
They prefer drier soil, they don’t require fertilizer, and they’re relatively flexible about light needs. They’ll love a bright sunny window, but they’ll also survive in low light situations and under artificial lights.
Chinese Money Plant
Chinese Money Plant is a great plant to share with friends. It’s fairly resilient, and also prefers the soil to dry out between waterings. It’s constantly popping up new little baby plants that can be transplanted to share with others. (If only our money worked that way!)
Chinese Money Plant needs indirect light—direct sunlight will scorch the leaves.
Hoyas come in tons of different styles, shapes, and color variations. They naturally grow in the lower levels of the rainforest, where they may get dappled light but rarely direct sun. They’ll be fine in an office or near a north-facing window.
Like the plants above, they’re also resilient and prefer their soil to dry between waterings. They’re very tough and will hang on for quite a while, even if they don’t see a drop of water for a few weeks.
Chinese Evergreens are one of the easiest, most forgiving plants to grow. They are available with many different striking color variations, and they’ll tolerate pretty much any location.
They also prefer their soil to dry out between waterings, and they’ll still look amazing if your friend forgets to water them for weeks.
Similar to Chinese Evergreen, Snake Plants will last a long time before they start showing signs of neglect. They come in several different shapes, sizes, and color varieties, but they’re all equally easy to grow. They go great with modern decor.
Your black thumb friend can probably even keep a snake plant alive for a year, and that will give anyone interested in plants a boost of confidence.
Anthurium is dramatic, colorful, and exceptionally resilient. Their striking blooms are highly eye-catching, and they’re available in a wide variety of colors. They don’t seem to care at all if they’re left to dry out for a while. They’ll happily produce their long-lasting dramatic blooms.
Anthurium prefers indirect light, and can even tolerate low-light, though it will bloom less often. It does prefer the soil to dry out between waterings.
ZZ Plant is an excellent low-light option. They also prefer to dry out, and won’t notice if you miss a few waterings. They grow slowly, so they won’t need repotting for years. Their glossy, dark green leaves are very attractive. The ZZ plant works well with a minimalist or industrial aesthetic.
They really don’t like direct light—in fact, they can tolerate hardly any light at all. You can genuinely forget to water this plant for up to 5 weeks, and they’ll still look fantastic. ZZ plant is toxic, so keep it out of reach of kids and pets.
Plants NOT to Give as Gifts
There are a few plants that we don’t recommend giving as gifts, simply because they’re quite finicky and need experienced owners and particular conditions to survive.
Alocasia, as we mentioned above, is pretty finicky and definitely not a beginner plant. Fiddle leaf figs, while super popular, are also very picky about their conditions, and do not like changes in their environment. Orchids can also be challenging to rebloom. Venus flytraps are more of a pet than a plant and need to be fed on a regular schedule.
Ready to pick out some houseplants? We’ve got a great selection of houseplants for your Secret Santa gift exchange. Pop by one of our garden center locations in Lothian, Alexandria, or Belle Haven for a visit.