Creative and Inexpensive Garden Gifts for Hannukah, Christmas, and Kwanza

be gentle and nurture by janoid
be gentle and nurture by janoid

December is the holiday month with Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanza and numerous other festive gift giving days. In my family, December is also the birthday month for four members. In these hard economic times, TheGardenLady likes to come up with creative but inexpensive gift ideas so as not to break the bank.

You can give IOUs to friends. Make or buy a pretty card- preferably with a flower on it – and offer your friend your services in the friend’s garden. For example, write on the card that you owe your friend one day of weeding time or if your friend is going somewhere, offer to water the flowers – indoors and/or outdoors when your friend is away. Or if your friend is away from the college campus while you will be around, offer to care for any plants.

Or one can propagate plants from your own plants. This is a little late in the year to get started for the plant to really be showy in time for Christmas and is really not the time to propagate outdoor plants; but one can attempt to propagate some simple indoor plants even at this late time of the year. The easiest way of propagating indoor plants is by taking leaf cuttings. Not all plants will propagate by leaf cuttings. Some simple, pretty plants amenable to this type of propagation are coleus, begonias and African violets. Sometimes all that is needed to get a root to form is to just put a stem with leaf cutting in water.

You could also divide some of your plants, like spider plants. Repot the little plants and give them as gifts. Good directions for propagating plants can be found on-line here.

You can buy bulbs and pot those up in pretty glass or ceramic pots and give the arrangement as a gift. My favorites are the paperwhite narcissus and the Amaryllis. Some bulbs can be started together in a planter, like crocus bulbs and hyacinth bulbs. Amaryllis bulbs can be bought inexpensively in supermarkets and hardware stores. There are even sales on line.  See here.

Of course you can consider giving traditional plants like poinsettias. When you go to buy these plants remember that every year hybridizers like the Ecke ranch comes up with new poinsettias.  See here.  Some 70 or 75 percent of the poinsettias in America get their start on the Ecke ranch. One new poinsettia cultivar in 2009 has the bracts come out red and then turn white as they grow. Another of the Ecke ranch introductions is their Polar Bear variety.

Ecke is partnering with Polar Bears International while introducing this outstanding white poinsettia. For every Polar Bear plant sold, Ecke is donating money to Polar Bears International for polar bear education and research programs. TheGardenLady loves this type of win/win gift- where one gets a beautiful plant or whatever and money also goes to a wonderful charity.

Another win/win gift idea is through the Arbor Day Foundation where for a minimum donation they will mail 10 flowering trees from different groups of your choice. The little trees will be sent at the right time for planting in the area or you can opt to have the Arbor Day Foundation plant trees in one of the nation’s forests in someone’s name.

An inexpensive gift for plant lovers might just be the pretty plant pots without a plant or a cache pot for the plant lover to put the plants in. As much as people are buying cheap plastic pots for themselves, it is always nice to get a gift of some pretty ceramic pots. There are even some big plastic pots that make attractive gifts.

This might be the time to look at craft shows. You can probably pick up something unique that will hold a plant in a craft show- something that is one of a kind yet not that expensive. For example, the 63rd St. Y in Manhattan near Lincoln Center will be having their annual holiday sale of original hand made ceramics on Dec. 10, 11 and 12 . These pieces are made by the artisans who work in the Y studio and some of the money helps support this Y. Of course, you might also find something you think your friend would love that is a little more costly. For example, I get lots of catalogs at this time of year and one catalog called Bits and Pieces had a pretty piece that looks Italian and is referred to as Ceramica Italia Pottery. You can have the piece personalized with the recipient’s name.

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