Flowers represent nature’s most potent beauty. So it’s no surprise that we’ve built an entire market around gifting cut vases and bouquets around Valentine’s Day. If you want to give a gift that will last more than a few days, though, we recommend switching to living plants!
It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping for an experienced gardener or a plant novice, many houseplants are surprisingly beginner-friendly. And if your giftee wants to display their Valentine’s present for all to see, there are plenty of options that thrive outdoors, as well.
14 Best Living Plants To Give Instead of a Bouquet This Valentine’s Day
Don’t worry! You don’t need to know a thing about plants to pick out the perfect gift for your green-thumbed loved ones.
Here are the 14 best living plants to brighten up someone’s Valentine’s Day this year:
There’s no better way to celebrate the end of winter than with a pot full of hyacinth. These flowers are one of the first to emerge in springtime. They’re also incredibly fragrant.
Like tulips, hyacinth grows from bulbs. It’s quite easy to force these bulbs to sprout in the spring by placing them over a jar of water. You can also plant hyacinth in the garden for a perennial reminder that spring is coming.
As far as giving a hyacinth as a gift is concerned, we recommend surprising your special someone with a set of potted hyacinth bulbs ready to bloom.
If you’re on the hunt for a houseplant that will add a little color to your giftee’s life, just wait until you hear about bromeliads.
These tropical plants produce brightly colored leaves that grow tall, almost resembling a flower. Unlike a flower, though, these vibrant leaves won’t fall away during the off-season.
Believe it or not, these plants do produce flowers on top of their show-stopping foliage. However, most won’t bloom unless their growing conditions are near-perfect.
Bromeliads require special care to survive, so this plant is best gifted to someone with a little bit of gardening experience.
3. Citrus trees
Did you know that many citrus tree cultivars thrive in containers? You can even grow these plants in colder climates, as long as you bring them inside during winter or keep them in a heated sunroom!
However, keep in mind that not all citrus trees will submit to the confines of a pot. For the best results, you’ll want to surprise your giftee with a dwarf variety. These trees have been specifically bred to maintain smaller root systems and shorter trunks, even into maturity.
The Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree is actually a hybrid between a lemon plant and a mandarin orange tree. Rest assured, however, that this citrus tree will only grow bonafide lemons. While this lemon tree will grow up to six feet tall in the ground, it adapts well to life in a container.
If you’re looking for a great beginner-friendly citrus tree, the Dwarf Washington Navel Orange Tree is your best bet. This tree is extremely low-maintenance and compact, making it the perfect gift for an inexperienced gardener.
Ferns might not grow flowers of any kind, but that doesn’t make these prehistoric living plants any less beautiful. Many fern species grow well as houseplants — some can even be grown as mock air plants without any soil.
While the Boston fern is the most popular variety for containers and hanging baskets, we guarantee your giftee will love a unique fern cultivar even more.
The Kimberley Queen Fern looks a lot like its Bostonian cousin, except its fronds, grow more upright. These ferns make excellent houseplants and tolerate a range of light conditions.
For a fern unlike any other, check out the Japanese Bird’s Nest Fern. This fern features solid fronds with stylish ruffled edges. The middle of the fern — where the fronds emerge — resembles a bird’s nest (hence, the name).
There might not be a plant with more common names than Sansevieria. You might know this popular houseplant as a snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, viper bowstring hemp, or Saint George’s sword. Either way, they’re all the same plant in the end.
The classic Snake Plant, or Sansevieria trisfasciata, makes a perfect gift for anyone just getting into keeping plants. This plant is super tolerant of forgotten watering and thrives in low-light rooms.
6. Money tree
Whether you believe that money trees actually bring good fortune or not, you can’t deny that they make excellent houseplants. The money tree’s tolerance for living indoors and its flexible trunk also make it a favorite within the Bonsai community.
Money trees are surprisingly easy to care for. These living plants love dim light and require little attention. You can even buy a Just Add Ice Money Tree, which needs just a few ice cubes per week to survive.
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Many people love giving and receiving bouquets around Valentine’s Day. Though, the thing about bouquets is that they tend to die off within just a few days.
If you want to give living plants this Valentine’s season but don’t want to give up the beauty of a bundle of flowers, we recommend gifting your loved one a potted anthurium.
Anthurium come in all different colors (white, pink, and red are the most popular) and produce flowers for three months at a time. After a short dormant period, this houseplant will get right back to work, producing another round of stunning blossoms.
Some people grow begonias for their foliage. Others grow them for their charming flowers. Either way, your Valentine is sure to love a basket of begonias.
Begonias come in so many different cultivars, each bearing a unique shape, growth pattern, and color palette. One of our favorites this season is the Golden Balcony Begonia. It features gorgeous yellow-and-pink flowers that will stick around all summer long.
Begonias make excellent living plants for hanging baskets or decorative outdoor containers. Many begonias also thrive as houseplants if they get enough light and humidity.
Hibiscus trees can be grown as annuals or perennials, depending on the climate. Many gardeners have success growing hibiscus trees in containers and bringing them inside during winter in colder climates.
Even if your Valentine only gets to enjoy their hibiscus for a single season, these plants make excellent centerpieces for ornamental containers. They can also be grown indoors in a bright window or screened porch.
Flowers are just one way to add color to your home or outdoor container garden. Caladium is extremely popular for its colorful, one-of-a-kind foliage that pairs nicely with all kinds of ornamental flowers.
When we say caladium comes in all shades, we really mean it. The Red Flash Caladium is a classic style with green-edged leaves. Each leaf features a “flash” of bright red coloring in the center.
The White Christmas Caladium is a bit more subdued. These plants have white-and-green variegated foliage that grows just a couple of inches above the soil for a compact appearance.
Another of our favorite varieties for Valentine’s Day is the Miss Muffet Caladium. The light green leaves are speckled by pinkish-red spots — perfect for the holiday.
Caladium is an annual plant that sprouts from tubers (a type of bulb) in the spring. In the right conditions, these tubers will produce leaves in as little as two weeks. If you don’t want your giftee to wait to enjoy their new living plants, though, you can always give them a planter full of already-sprouted caladium.
11. Elephant ear
As made obvious by their near-identical appearances, elephant ears are closely related to caladium. The name “elephant ear” applies to several genera of plants. (To make things more complicated, you’ll sometimes even find caladium sold under this common name!)
While caladium works great as a filler in mixed flower pots, elephant ears are larger and often look and grow best on their own. If you want to go the extra mile, gift your Valentine a large, well-draining container to go with their new living plants.
Like caladium, elephant ears come in all different colors. This season, we’re partial to dramatic cultivars with dark leaves.
The Black Velvet Elephant Ear (Alocasia reginula) really lives up to its name. This plant produces deep black foliage with contrasting white veins. They grow just one or two feet tall, so are a bit smaller than many other types of elephant ear.
The Illustris Elephant Ear (Collocasia esculenta) is another dark species that will perfectly complement your giftee’s favorite flowering plants. These black-and-green leaves can grow up to five feet tall. But you’ll still see them used as the centerpieces of large ornamental containers.
While dahlias shine as cut flowers for bouquets and floral arrangements, they’re not as commonly grown in containers or home gardens.
A big reason for this is that most dahlia cultivars grow quite tall. These long stems are ideal for cutting but not so great for growing in an ornamental pot.
Not all dahlias follow the same growth patterns, though. The Pulp Fiction Dahlia is a great example that tops out at just 8 to 10 inches tall. Its crimson flowers and stunning all-black foliage is just a bonus.
The Pulp Fiction Dahlia still needs full sunlight, so this flower is best grown in an outdoor container. If your Valentine is looking for something new to freshen up their window boxes or porch planters, a set of these dahlias may be the perfect fit!
13. Japanese maple
Ornamental trees can add much-needed color and variety to your landscaping. With a big enough container, they can also bring life to your sunroom, deck, or front porch.
Of course, you don’t want to throw just any tree into a pot and hope for the best. If you want to really wow your Valentine this year, gift them a dwarf Japanese maple tree instead of a bouquet of flowers.
Japanese maple is known for producing autumn-toned leaves nearly all year round. Many varieties also feature bright red stems in their younger years.
The Little Sango Dwarf Japanese Maple is a great option for any ornamental tree-lover. This variety has green leaves that quickly transition into yellow, orange, and red. It won’t grow more than five feet tall at full maturity, making it perfect for a large container.
Last but certainly not least, there’s no denying how synonymous Valentine’s Day is with the rose. And you can still give this classic flower with a gift of living plants.
Instead of a bouquet of cut roses, give your Valentine a Mini Yellow Rose Bush. Miniature roses offer the same beauty and color as their larger counterparts, just in a much smaller package. The one thing miniature roses really lack is the fragrance.
It’s also possible to grow roses in outdoor containers. These plants can be grown as annuals or brought inside during cold weather for multi-year blooms.
The Pink Double Knock Out Rose Tree is a prolific bloomer that will grow between four and seven feet if it survives to maturity. It produces bright pink flowers and a subtle fragrance. Plus, it bears the famous disease- and insect-resistance of the Knock Out line, making it perfect for inexperienced rose gardeners.
Living Plants: Spread the Love (Near or Far)
While celebrating holidays from afar has become the norm, it doesn’t need to affect your gift-giving efforts.
It’s truly never been easier to ship living plants to your loved ones. Dare we say, it’s as easy as sending a bouquet. So get started on your Valentine’s Day shopping now, before it’s too late!
What do you buy for a plant-lover who seems to have everything? Share your favorite rare or unusual plants in the comments below!