10 of the Best Plants to Give as Gifts

woman in purple sweats poses with purple orchid in large circle chair

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Choosing a gift that will stand the test of time is always a challenge, but giving plants is one way to try. Knowing your recipient is perhaps the most important part of choosing a houseplant as a gift. A water-sipping succulent might be most appropriate for a busy friend on the go, while a shade-tolerant fern could fit better in a shady apartment with an attentive owner. If the recipient is already a plant-lover, consider an unusual choice that will test their skills. In any case, including a ceramic pot and a bag of appropriate soil can be a helpful addition to your plant you choose.

Here are 10 houseplants sure to impress as a thoughtful gift.

Warning

Some of the plants on this list are toxic to pets. For more information about the safety of specific plants, consult the ASPCA's searchable database.

1
of 10

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii)

A flowering Christmas Cactus on a white table in front of a window

Nadezhda Nesterova / Shutterstock

The Christmas cactus is a succulent that makes a great gift plant, with showy flowers that appear in winter. Its impressive flowering display might make you assume that this is a fussy plant, but nothing could be further than the truth. It prefers bright, indirect light and thrives in average potting soil or cacti mix. Though succulents tend to be very drought tolerant, this tropical native prefers a steady watering schedule, especially in late fall and winter during its blooming season. To encourage more growth, plant it in a hanging container that allows its limbs to drape.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Bright, indirect light.
  • Water: Water regularly, but allow soil to dry out somewhat in between.
  • Soil: Well-draining cacti mix.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to dogs and cats.
2
of 10

Jade Plant (Crassula argentea)

A bright green plant with thick, waxy leaves in a white pot
mikroman6 / Getty Images

The jade plant is a large succulent that makes a perfect gift for someone who's mastered parenting smaller succulents and cacti. With a woody stem, it resembles a tree once it grows tall enough. Besides occasional watering and a bright window, the jade plant has few other requirements. A good challenge for ambitious owners is to try to promote vertical growth, which can be accomplished by regularly pruning its heavy foliage to reduce weight. As a bonus, trimming also reveals its unique trunk, which otherwise would be hidden by its fleshy leaves. 

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Bright, indirect light.
  • Water: Regular watering, but let top of soil dry completely between waterings.
  • Soil: Regular potting soil mixed with some sand.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
3
of 10

Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis spp.)

A purple orchid sits next to a bright, wood-framed window

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

For some reason, the orchid has become something of a poster child for fussy houseplants, which might be enough to scare you away from considering this beautiful flowering plant as a gift. But commercial varieties of orchids are hardy and easy to grow with only moderate attention. It's most important to get the climate right—orchids prefer moist, temperate conditions and partial, indirect light. Getting orchids to rebloom can be something of a challenge, but decreasing light and temperatures are cues for them to begin the process. As long as temperatures don't drop below 55 degrees, placing them outside overnight in fall can be a good way to create these conditions. 

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Bright, indirect light.
  • Water: Thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch.
  • Soil: An orchid-specific potting mix is best.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
4
of 10

Paperwhite (Narcissus papyraceus)

A collection of plants with white flowers sitting in a market display

Roy_TeamV / Shutterstock

Some people just aren't interested in keeping houseplants around long-term, and paperwhite flowers are an excellent gift for anyone you know who fits this mold. These flowers may not last forever, but they will outlive cut flowers by a large margin and still provide your recipient with some of the perks of plant ownership. Paperwhites, which are a type of daffodil, grow from bulbs and will bloom out of season. The roots need to be kept relatively damp, but once they are blooming, there's not much that can go wrong. They can be replanted outside after they have run their course.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Prefer bright, indirect light.
  • Water: Water regularly to prolong their lifespan.
  • Soil: Can grow in potting mix or a shallow bed of pebbles.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
5
of 10

Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)

A tall fern plant with wavy fronds in a textured, white pot

 OlgaMiltsova / Getty Images

The bird's nest fern is a good gift for anyone with a shady house or apartment that wouldn't support other, sun-loving species. It's a hardy fern variety, adapted to living on forest floors, where the air tends to be cool and damp. It does well in moist, well-draining soil, and likes to be misted as well. This doesn't always mean you need a misting bottle—spraying it in the sink or hanging it near a shower that's used often works as well. 

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Partial indirect light; tolerates shade well.
  • Water: Regularly. Ferns prefer a moist, humid environment.
  • Soil: Moist, fertile, well-draining soil.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
6
of 10

Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)

Close up shot of the soft branches of a Norfolk Island Pine.

Radhavar / Shutterstock

The Norfolk Island pine is a great gift choice as a small, sustainable Christmas tree. Unlike most cut Christmas trees, they can be purchased in a pot and continue to thrive as houseplants for many years. It's important to note that, despite their appearance, they are not true pine trees. These tropical natives won't survive outdoors in cold climates like a pine or fir tree will. Indoors, they prefer a regular watering schedule and plenty of sunlight.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Bright, indirect light.
  • Water: Prefers a consistent, weekly watering schedule and high humidity.
  • Soil: Well-draining, peat-based mix.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
7
of 10

Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans)

Close up of dracaena fragrans with a woody stalk and dark green leaves

Yurii Kushniruk / Getty Images

The corn plant is another excellent gift choice for someone living in an apartment or house with lots of shade. They are forgiving of variable light conditions and watering routines. It grows slowly, but can reach a height of four to six feet, and at maturity can make an impressive floor plant in a large pot. Their leaves are an indication of the amount of sun they receive—turning paler in direct sun to reflect the extra light, and darker green in shady conditions to maximize sunlight absorption. 

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Lower to medium indirect light, filtered sun.
  • Water: Keep soil moist but not soggy.
  • Soil: Rich, well-draining potting mix.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
8
of 10

Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata)

A snake plant sits next to a bed with white sheets

Feel Pic / Getty Images

The snake plant is a striking houseplant that makes an especially good gift for new plant owners who you might not trust to keep a plant alive. It's a hardy species that grows happily in just about any conditions. While it prefers bright light, it doesn't mind shade or even artificial light. Plus, thanks to its thick, fleshy leaves, it stores water with remarkable efficiency, which makes it very drought tolerant. The snake plant would rather be neglected than overwatered, and is a great gift plant for anyone who might forget about it entirely on a regular basis. 

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Medium, indirect light; tolerates sun and shade.
  • Water: Water regularly, allowing soil to dry well before re-watering.
  • Soil: Rich, well-draining potting mix.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
9
of 10

Resurrection Plant (Selaginella lepidophylla)

A brown, shriveled plant sitting in a bowl of water getting ready to rehydrate

 MadKruben / Getty Images

The resurrection plant makes a unique gift thanks to its singular ability to return to life before your very eyes. This native of the Mexican desert has adapted to survive in extreme drought by curling into a ball and remaining in this lifeless state for years, if necessary. In its spherical form, it can be transported by the wind across the arid landscape to areas with water. In your home, it will revive within hours in a shallow bowl of water, unfurling and transforming into a verdant, green moss. 

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Full or partial indirect light.
  • Water: Rehydrate in a bowl of water; can be moved after several hours.
  • Soil: Not needed.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
10
of 10

Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides)

Pilea Peperomioides house plant in a gray pot in front of a white wall

dropStock / Getty Image

The Chinese money plant is a flowering species that makes a good gift for experienced plant parents looking for a new challenge. It has interesting, round leaves that can grow up to four inches in diameter and often sit horizontally to the ground. It prefers a moderate amount of indirect light, and to dry out slightly between watering sessions. It propagates easily without any input, growing sprouts or "pups" directly from its root system. These can coexist in the same pot for a time until they grow large enough to transplant.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Medium indirect light. East or west window.
  • Water: Water when top inch of soil is dry. Will need water more frequently in brighter light.
  • Soil: Well-draining organic potting mix.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.