Marin Master Gardeners
University of California
Marin Master Gardeners

Holiday Gift Ideas for People Who Love Plants and Flowers

San Francisco Botanical Garden pond. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
San Francisco Botanical Garden pond. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Poinsettias, amaryllis, paperwhite narcissus — these are the backbone of our traditional holiday gift plants. They are all beautiful and shout holiday. But what about something just a little different?

Photo: Gail Mason, UC
Photo: Gail Mason, UC
Although we have enjoyed a bit of rain recently, it's still prudent to think drought-resistant with all of our gift purchases. Succulents continue to be the darlings of little-water-needed landscape design, and there are an amazing variety of succulents available and many creative ways to use them. Whether in the ground, in containers or tucked into a wreath, most succulents do best outdoors in moderate to bright sunlight. They'll be fine indoors for a short time, but an outdoor location is best for the long term.


And what about tillandsias? Also called air plants, these almost carefree epiphytes need no soil because water and nutrients are absorbed through the leaves. They love bright, indirect sunlight. Tuck one into a decorative container and you have a delightful hostess gift.

Let's examine our shopping list:

  • Passionate gardener with lots of room to plant and grow: The world is their oyster. What can we gift that will encourage less water reliance or encourage production of edibles? Consider a book about native plants; on the gift card recommend a link to the local Marin watering schedule, marinwater.org/161/Weekly-Watering-Schedule.
  • Garden lover with limited outdoor space: Succulents are great for small-space gardening — and available in a shape and size to fit most any budget. Miniature citrus are easy care and practical for patio gardeners.
  • Plant/flower lover with space limited to windowsills: Think herbs. How about a pot of rosemary, sage and thyme for a kitchen gardener? Small ferns and zebra plant also do well with moderate light.
  • Apartment dweller — little time to tend plants, not much light: For this gift recipient think pothos, or snake plant (Sansevieria) — something almost indestructible but alive and green — flourishing in sun-deprived environments. Make it easy to achieve success.
  • Loves flowers and plants but has no room to grow, no time or energy to tend: Many of us have friends and family on our gift lists who no longer have the space or the energy to nurture a garden, but their love of the natural world remains strong. Consider a membership at one of our local horticultural treasures. Visits to botanical gardens can provide a welcome opportunity to breathe fresh oxygen and enjoy a variety of plant life — no watering or weeding required.

Berkeley Botanical Garden, Conservatory of Flowers, Filoli, Quarryhill Botanical Garden, and San Francisco Botanical Garden all have affordable membership programs.

Falkirk Cultural Center offers free access to Master Gardeners' demonstration gardens showcasing succulents, Mediterranean gardening, under the oaks gardening, beneficial habitat gardening, and more. Pack a lunch, bring your guest and sit on the steps of the historic mansion for an easy, inexpensive nature experience.

Marin Art & Garden (MAGC) is also open to the public from sunrise to sunset. The rose garden, designed and maintained by the Marin Rose Society, offers a fragrant treat from April to October. Majestic, century old trees are beautiful in all seasons. Unique specialty gardens provide an opportunity to explore and discover a diverse collection of plants.

Gifts from the heart — and the able bodied — are a welcome treat for many. Consider a personal gift certificate, good for:

  • Rose pruning in January
  • Delivery of a truck load of mulch, extra credit for spreading it around
  • Planting fall bulbs
  • Fine tuning the drip irrigation system

Marin Master Gardeners are always here for help; go to http://marinmg.ucanr.edu for more information about gardening in beautiful Marin County.

May your holiday shopping be merry, bright and green.


Original articles by Jane Scurich for the Marin Independent Journal 11/21/2014

Edited by Kathryn Parkinson

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