Unless you’re a plant lover, giving a friend or loved one a houseplant for the holidays might seem a little strange at first. But despite being nontraditional, live plants are ideal gifts.
Giving a plant is a perfect way to maintain a connection. Unlike a lot of gifts that end up going in a drawer or cabinet, houseplants are out in the open and get regular care. Each time the person you gift a houseplant to waters/prunes/etc. the plant, they have reason to think of you. So instead of giving a thing, you’re giving an experience.
There’s also a wealth of scientific studies that point to how plants may improve our well-being. From stress reduction to improving our attitudes to potentially giving us a mental boost, a plant is a gift that keeps on giving.
Here are eight of our favorite plants for the holiday season.
Norfolk Island Pine
Perfect for: Nature Lovers, Parents, and Procrastinators
One of our favorite things about Norfolk Island Pine is that it’s long-lived and easy to grow, so it can be enjoyed all year long, not just during the holidays. It’s also super gratifying in that every year it grows bigger and more beautiful. Norfolk Island Pine brings a touch of nature into any space, from a small urban apartment to a cabin by the lake.
Because it can live for decades, it’s a particularly fun choice for parents because children can watch their Norfolk Island Pine grow up with them.
It’s pretty easy-going as a houseplant—it just needs good light and regular watering, so you don’t need to be a plant expert to enjoy it.
Perfect for: Decorators, Entertainers, and Plant Beginners
Poinsettias are so colorful and add a ton of holiday cheer, even to a small space thanks to their bracts (special leaves). Plant breeders are hard at work producing new varieties (fun fact: We tested more than 200 new varieties this year!) in different colors and sizes, as well as for other features such as enhanced longevity. These plants are perfect for adding seasonal flair to every space—especially an annual holiday party. And because Poinsettia’s bracts fade shortly after the holidays, it’s fine to compost them after the season if you don’t want to maintain them from year to year. This makes Poinsettia a great choice for folks just starting out with plants—it doesn’t have to be a long-term relationship.
Perfect for: Apartment Dwellers, Plant Beginners, and Holiday Enthusiasts
Holiday Cacti are long-lived plants (they can live for decades and are often passed down through generations of family members!) that are known for their colorful flowers and easy-care nature. These plants are slow growers, making them a good choice for (well-lit) small spaces. And because they can often survive a couple of weeks without water, they’re a great choice for people with little to no houseplant experience. Holiday cacti also have a distinctive look with their toothed, leafless stems and flamboyant orchid-like flowers.
Perfect for: Plant Enthusiasts, Decorators, and Flower Lovers
Most houseplants are grown for their foliage, rather than their flowers. But Anthurium bucks that, producing elegant flowers in a range of colors, from holiday red to white pink to chocolate-purple. If given enough light, Anthurium produces blossoms that can last for weeks, and they continue to bear flowers throughout the year. This makes it easy to enjoy the look of a living bouquet all year long. Anthuriums are fairly tolerant of a wide range of indoor conditions, so they don’t require a lot of work—just a good space—to keep them looking healthy and beautiful.
Polka Dot Begonia
Perfect for: Creatives, Entertainers, and Fashionistas
Polka Dot Begonia (Begonia maculata) is a whimsical houseplant sometimes also called Angelwing Begonia. It features dark olive-green, wing-shaped leaves playfully patterned with silver polka dots. For added interest, the underside of the leaf is a rich rusty red color. Polka Dot Begonia looks great all year long, but is especially fitting for the holidays since the silvery spots look right at home with both traditional and modern holiday décor. When happy, it produces clusters of white flowers that give this beautiful plant even more eye appeal.
White Knight Philodendron
Perfect for: Nature Lovers, Plant Enthusiasts, and Procrastinators
White Knight Philodendron is a newer variety of white-variegated climbing Philodendron that shows off dark green heart-shaped leaves. Each leaf bears some white markings, but every leaf is different. Some leaves may be entirely white, others may have large patches of it, and others may have only tiny flecks. That makes this plant extra experiential --- the anticipation and reveal as every new leaf unfurls. Like other Philodendron varieties, it's pretty forgiving if you forget to water from time to time.
Little Swiss Monstera
Perfect for: Nature Lovers, Parents, and Plant Enthusiasts
Little Swiss Monstera (Monstera adansonii) is a lovely climbing or trailing houseplant also sometimes called Swiss Cheese Plant. It's earned this moniker because the oval-shaped leaves bear a series of fenestrations (holes or windows) that give it something of a lacy look. Because it climbs and/or trails, you can train it to grow pretty much any way you'd like --- up a wall or trellis, along a mantle, or up in a hanging basket where it's out of reach of kids and pets. Little Swiss Monstera is a fast-growing houseplant and easy to propagate, making it a joy to grow and share.
Perfect for: Fashionistas, Individualists, and Plant Enthusiasts,
Dieffenbachia Crocodile is a one-of-a-kind plant with its own style. It features big, dark green leaves splashed with lighter green and speckled with white (for something of a camouflage look). But beyond its variegation what makes this variety unique is that the midrib (main vein running of the leaf) has unique crests, making it look a bit like crocodile skin (hence its common name). The leaves are slightly cupped, showing off the look! Despite its unique appearance, it's a cinch to grow, making it a great choice for plant parents of every skill level.
Written by Justin Hancock