Plants are the gifts that keep on giving. Choose wisely, and they will shower the recipient with beauty and joy year after year. While it’s true not all plants look their best at Christmas, there is still a wide enough variety available to suit everyone’s tastes.
Top of the Christmas giving list is a citrus tree. These evergreen beauties often have attractive glossy dark leaves and come in a range of sizes. A lemon tree will be appreciated with every gin and tonic the recipient drinks, while the fruit of orange and kumquat trees can be used for marmalade and eaten all year round. In our Dundee climate keep them in pots that can be brought inside during winter and put back outside between early-spring and mid-autumn.
For a small flower, hyacinths pack a seriously fragrant punch. They come in deep blue, pretty pink, and white, and make a fantastic gift in a pot or basket. The bulbs can be forced into flower in time for Christmas and then planted outdoors where they will naturally flower again in the spring.
Viburnum shrubs have the benefit of not only being hardy and easy to grow, but of flowering in winter. They are native to the Atlas Mountains and do very well in Dundee’s climate. Viburnum makes a wonderful gift for bird lovers as their berries attract birds (although they are poisonous for humans and pets, so be careful). The fragrant flowers, which come in shades of pink, white, or cream, smell even better when they get the afternoon sun.
It is difficult to beat the amaryllis (main pic) for a truly spectacular Christmas plant. Trumpet shaped flowers extend off long dark green stems, and the bulbs are found in most garden centres. Several amaryllis in a decorative pot makes a wonderful and inexpensive gift.
Many people throw their poinsettia away once it starts to shed its incredible red leaves, but if cared for correctly they can last all year to brighten up Christmas again. So don’t be put off thinking they are short-lived if you want to give them as a Christmas gift. Add some sparkle to your present by spray painting a terracotta pot with metallic gold paint (or stamping with your children’s handprints as a gift for their grandparents) before varnishing and planting the poinsettia in it.
Bay trees are often found standing sentry on a doorstep. They suit styles of homes from rustic to contemporary, and require very little maintenance beyond regular watering and spring pruning. You can substitute a bay tree for an olive tree.