13 Show-Stopping Houseplants You Can Buy Online That Make Great Gifts

From 'goldfish plants' to 'frizzle sizzle', we’ve got gift options for growers of all experience levels.

November 17, 2017
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venus fly trap
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Thinking about gifting a houseplant to your hostess, friend, or family member this holiday season? We LOVE that idea. First, there are a few important things to consider, like what kind of space is the recipient working with? Do they have animals and children to be wary of? What kind of light does their place get? Now the fun part begins! What color, style, shape, size do you think they would like? To help, we’ve put together a range of stunning houseplants from easy to expert care.

(Brag your love of gardening with the Organic Life 2018 Wall Calendar, featuring gorgeous photographs, cooking tips and recipes, plus how to eat more—and waste less—of what's in season.)

You’ll see some directions indicating ‘bright indirect sunlight’, which can be confusing. It just means the plant won’t survive directly in a window, but instead loves being placed in view of a window, perhaps behind the some other plants or a sheer curtain.

Related: 22 Gifts That Will Make The Crazy Plant Lady In Your Life Super Happy

If you decide to order a plant online, consider doing so a few weeks before gifting so it has a chance to bounce back from travel. Some leaves may fall off or brown, and this is totally normal. Most companies will send a little care sheet on what to look for.

As for decorating, a simple ribbon around the pot is beautiful. We’d recommend steering away from wrapping the plant or putting it in a bag. Both have the potential to break stems or harm blooms. A safe option is placing the pot in a shallow box with colorful tissue paper surrounding only the base for stability when transporting. We’ve also seen bows attached to wooden stakes and pushed into the soil for a little flair (just be sure not to damage roots). Other options include adding a gemstone or silly figurine to the soil. But of course, the plant is the main show!

Related: 21 Best Gifts For People Who Love To Garden

prayer plant
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For Beginner Growers: ‘Prayer Plant’ (Maranta leuconeura)

This beauty is known for its not-so-subtle leaf movement from day to night. During the day, leaves lay flat, but come nighttime they stand straight up (check out this time-lapse!), hence the common name ‘prayer plant’. They make great hanging plants as they trail down over pot edges while keeping a low, bushy look. Also exciting is their striking red and green striped leaves, though there are many variations of the plant. Care includes well-draining soil, evenly moist dirt, and indirect sunlight. Too much sun can scorch the leaves and turn them brown.

Buy it: $6, amazon.com

bromeliad
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For Beginner Growers: Guzmania Bromeliad

You may have seen these colorful tropical plants at restaurants or hotel lobbies as they are super easy to care for. When you purchase a bromeliad in bloom, know the color will last for a few months then die off. Lots of people think they’ve killed their plant, but that’s not the case. It’s simply the plant’s lifecycle. These plants like humidity, bright sunlight, and regular watering. The only difference between them and other houseplants is they like to be watered where all the leaves come together, also known as the cup. Choose from exciting colors like red, pink, orange, or yellow.

Buy it: $20, jet.com

Related: Why Your Bromeliad Plant Is Turning Brown

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We hope you enjoy the products we're recommending as much as we do! Just so you know, Organic Life may get a share of sales from the links on this page.
 
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For Beginner Growers: ‘Cracklin’ Rosie’ Begonia (Fibrous begonia hybrid)
 

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These babies are a bold addition to any gardeners’ collection. You may have spotted one on Instagram showcasing their dramatic deep red contrast behind a splatter of pink spots. Care is simple with the hardy Cracklin' Rosie, as they like partial sun (east or west-facing window), regular watering airing on the dry side, and pruning to keep the plant bushy.

Buy it: Check your local nursery or get a cutting from a friend 

houseplant gifts chinese money plant
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For Beginner Growers: ‘Chinese Money Plant’ (Pilea peperomioides)

This easy-to-care-for Pilea is also having a huge moment on social media. Their amphibian-like stem, round pancake leaves, and adorable off-shoots are exciting to even a beginner gardener. They enjoy bright indirect sunlight, well-draining soil, and fertilizer every month or so. The challenge with these robust plants is finding one to purchase, as they are rarely in garden centers. If you don’t want to buy online, your best bet is gifting a clipping from your own plant or checking on social media for groups that trade plants (here’s how to propagate any houseplant). Believe us, the search is worth it!

Buy it: $25, amazon.com

flamingo flower
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For Intermediate Growers: ‘Flamingo Flower’ (Anthurium)

A personal favorite, these tall green plants shoot up darling heart-shaped waxy blooms in red, salmon, pink, or white, which are technically modified leaves. They are native to tropical America and need bright indirect sunlight to continue blooming throughout the year. Water this plant when the first few inches become dry, and make sure it’s in well-draining soil to prevent root rot. Be careful gifting this beauty to friends with animals or children as they are poisonous, and touching the bumpy flower can cause mild skin irritation. The species is also highly susceptible to houseplant pests, like mealybugs and aphids so be sure your plant-getter examines the plant each time they water.

Buy it: $21, amazon.com

 
 
mistletoe fig
Photograph courtesy of Logees.com
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For Intermediate Growers: ‘Mistletoe Fig’ (Ficus deltoidea)

Wondering where the mistletoe reference comes from? This slow-growing tree produces pea-sized (inedible) orange and red fruits all year long that resemble the traditional holiday garnish. Technically, this tree naturally grows to full size outdoors, so when kept inside the treatment is considered ‘bonsai’, a method of training trees to remain small that originated in Japan and China. (Consider gifting a Bonsai care book as well!) But don’t let that word scare you away from this beauty, it just means it needs to be pruned every so often. Other care is basic, like frequent watering, lots of light, and monthly fertilizing. Mistletoe Figs are said to enjoy being outside in spring and summer, so consider gifting to someone who has patio space.

Buy it: $11, logees.com

Related: 10 Hardy Houseplants Anyone Can Grow With Ease

baby rubber plant
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For Intermediate Growers: ‘Baby Rubber Plant’ or ‘Oval Leaf Peperomia’ (Peperomia obtusifolia)

A succulent in disguise, this plant stores moisture in its wide fleshy leaves creating a compact playful gift for any desk or bedside table. But don’t be tempted to treat them like succulents, because in the wild they grow on rainforest floors so they require low light and moist soil indoors. Sometimes they grow too tall for the stem to support, so pruning is recommended. Keep an eye out for mealy bugs and over watering marked by wilted or scabbed leaves.

Buy it: $9, etsy.com

orchid
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For Intermediate Growers: Vanda Orchid

This is the perfect plant for the true tropical lover on your list. In the East-Asian tropics, these babes are epiphytic, meaning they grow on tall trees and require little soil. As a houseplant it can be grown the same way, minus a tall tree. You can suggest suspending the plant, securing it to a mount, or placing in a hanging terrarium. All are very exciting prospects to an indoor gardener. These orchids bloom about 2-3 times a year and enjoy bright indirect sunlight. To water, soak the roots for about 10 minutes every week.

Buy it: $79, whiteflowerfarm.com

Related: 4 Reasons Your Houseplants Are Dying And How To Fix Them

 
 
goldfish plant
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For Experienced Growers: ‘Goldfish Plant’ (Columnea gloriosa)

A very, very happy sight to see, this plant gets its name from the look of abundant blooms in the summer that resemble big, orange goldfish! How cool! This plant is tropical and loves lots of fertilized water, especially when it’s in bloom. East-facing windows are the perfect amount of bright indirect light, and they respond well to artificial light if needed in winter. As you can imagine, they are best kept in hanging baskets, because they cascade long stems up to three feet. Some pruning is recommended.

Buy it: $10, etsy.com

venus fly trap
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For Experienced Growers: ‘Venus Fly Trap’ (Dionaea muscipula)

Of course, we had to add this classic carnivorous plant. A quick review: In each hinged head of a venus fly trap sits three ultra sensitive hairs. When two are triggered 20 seconds apart, the trap closes and digestive fluids are released to breakdown the insect. It is as cool as it sounds. Contrary to popular belief, the plant also gets nutrients from the soil, so bugs are just an added bonus. They require high to very high light and need constant moisture as they naturally occur in swamp areas. Mine sits in a saucer of 1-3 inches of DISTILLED WATER at all times with sphagnum moss. This is very important. Tap water contains too much alkaline and minerals. While it may not be the prettiest thing to look at (sorry, no fancy pots) it is thrilling to check up on it and see flies and spiders through its closed mouths.

Buy it: $10, etsy.com

Related: 12 Inventive Ways To Decorate With Houseplants This Winter

staghorn fern
Photograph courtesy of Amazon.com
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For Experienced Growers: ‘Staghorn Fern’ (Platycerium alcicorne)

This plant is a real showstopper, as it is best kept mounted on the wall. That’s right, it’s a living piece of art. Caring for a Staghorn Fern is unique from other indoor plants, which is why it’s best to gift to an expert gardener. First, there are two mandatory types of watering: misting and soaking. They like indirect sunlight and humid temperatures. Understanding their anatomy is also important, because some of the leaves will brown, but this is totally normal and does not mean the plant is dying. Treated with care, this tropical fern will be a surprising addition to any plant lover’s home.

Buy it: $15, amazon.com

 
 
frizzle sizzle
Photograph courtesy of Etsy.com
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For Experienced Growers: ‘Frizzle Sizzle’ (Albuca spiralis)

Possibly the craziest little plant you can find, frizzle sizzle is a bulb that produces spunky leaves on short, bunchy stems. In the spring it produces its popular yellow, vanilla-scented flowers, but its active growing season is in the winter. Watering this silly dude is a bit challenging, as too much can cause the bulb to rot and too little can stunt foliage growth. Be sure your plant-recipient pots it with well-draining soil and understands the unique cycle of this plant.

Buy it: $15, etsy.com

split leaf philodendron
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For Experienced Growers: ‘Split Leaf Philodendron’ or ‘Swiss Cheese Plant’ (Monstera deliciosa)

This trendy plant can grow to be 8 feet tall, so make sure to gift it to someone with lots of space! As with most tropical plants, this guy loves bright indirect sunlight and regular watering after the soil is dry 2-4 inches deep. The difficulty comes with size and keeping the plant upright, because as it grows, it needs to be carefully attached to a lattice.

Buy it: $28, amazon.com

Related: 6 Ways To Make Sure Your Houseplants Thrive All Year Long