Snake plant is a very common houseplant that is easy to care for making it an excellent plant gift for your Valentine this year.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, many of us are seeking floral gifts to express our affection for family, friends, and significant others.  While nothing beats the spectacular blooms and intricate arrangements that cut flowers offer, we all know their lifespan is limited.  This year, consider a much longer-lived houseplant as gift that will continue to add lush greenery and even beautiful blooms for years to come.

Poinsettias are one of the most popular holiday plants in the US.

Poinsettias are a symbol of the holidays that have adorned wintertime homes in the US since their rise in popularity almost 200 years ago.  These gorgeous plants are native to Mexico and naturally reach full bloom near the holidays, making them a ubiquitous plant of the holiday season.  On average, they account for about one quarter of all potted plants sold in the US each year.  With all this popularity, it is surprising to me that there are a number of misconceptions or myths surrounding this plant.

The yellow lady’s slipper orchid is an Illinois native that can be grown in cultivation. Photo credit: Chris Benda.

Over the past 200 years or so, orchids have went from a mysterious and challenging plant, barely sustained in cultivation, to a fixture in many homes and businesses. Today, easy-care varieties of these beautiful flowering houseplants can be purchased just about anywhere, including the supermarket checkout lane.  In the last decade, plants in the orchid family have become highest selling potted plants in the US horticulture industry, exceeding the previous leader, poinsettias.

Poinsettias are the quintessential holiday house plant with nearly 30 million sold each year.

Are you searching for the perfect holiday gift for that plant lover on your list?  Hoping to inspire a new plant enthusiast with the ideal plant-related gift? Houseplants are one of the best and most affordable gifts for someone interested in a plant-themed gift this holiday season. 

Before you select that perfect specimen from the ranks of holiday plants for sale, it is helpful to consider some basic care requirements to be sure your plant’s recipient will be set up for success.

Houseplants provide beauty as well as a plethora of human health benefits during winter although indoor plant care can often be challenging this time of year.

Winter is a stressful time for many plants in the landscape, given the drought conditions brought on by freezing temperatures and the effects of extreme cold.

Although these stressors typically don’t impact our houseplants the same way, indoor plants experience their own form of winter stress, making wintertime one of the most common times of year for decline or death of houseplants.

The last thing any homeowner wants this time of year is a cold draft from the outdoors.  We humans have become exceedingly good at sealing up all of our indoor spaces in the interest of trapping heat during the winter or cooled air during the summer.  These type of improvements in home construction, insulation, and the overall sealing of our “building envelop” have gone a long way in reducing our energy costs, and our carbon footprint. 

Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are the most popular holiday plant in US households.  It is estimated that over 30 million poinsettias are sold each year around the holiday season, accounting for about one quarter of all flowering houseplants sold in the US, year-round.  That is a staggering statistic, making it the highest-selling potted plant nationwide.  It is so interesting to me that a plant which most of us purchase, enjoy for the holiday season and discard when blooms fade can be so widely sold. 

Nothing symbolizes the holiday season to a horticulturalist like a holiday cactus in full bloom.  These fascinating plants are cacti, but not at all like the full-sun, desert loving specimens we commonly think of.  Instead, these plants hail from the treetops of forests in Brazil, which is quite different than the desert ecosystems associated with other species of cacti.  They are all epiphytes, living in mostly shaded tree tops and rooting into pockets of organic debris instead of soil.

Have you ever heard of a plant with no roots? How about a plant that has no roots in the soil, but rather root-like structures that grow into other plants to steal water and nutrients?  Doesn’t that sound like something right out of a sci-fi movie?  Well, every holiday season, many of us hang a plant with these very characteristics in our homes.