12 houseplants for everyone on your gift list

girl holding fern
© Ilona Titova

Cat lover? New plant parent? Fortune seeker? Traveler? We've got the perfect plant for all.

If you are struggling with ideas for gifts that are both sustainable and promise joy for the recipient, consider a houseplant. They are charming, offer a bevy of benefits, and at the end of their life will not end up in the landfill for centuries to come. They may be the perfect "anti-stuff" gift. That said, not all indoor plants are for everyone – so with that in mind, we have picked certain plants to go along with certain personalities for a truly green gift guide. Consider the following:

1. For the new plant parent: ZZ plant

My favorite plant, not only for its beautiful glossy leaves and their geometric arrangement, but because Zamioculcas zamiifolia is practically indestructible. It can take all kinds of light situations and can go for long periods of time without water. Such a forgiving plant! And so pretty, a perfect gift for a beginner or anyone with a brown thumb.

2. For the insomniac: Lavender

We included lavender in "8 bedroom plants to improve your sleep" – and in fact, it is probably one of the best known plants for helping to coax calm nerves and slumber. Among other research, single-blind randomized studies investigating the effectiveness of lavender aroma on quality of sleep show that lavender improved sleep quality in a wide array of participants.

3. For the dog lover: Ponytail palm

Also known as the elephant-foot tree and the bottle palm, Beaucarnea recurvata can be found in the ASPCA's list of "Plants Non-Toxic to Dogs." This fun and whimsical houseplant is also very easy to care for, making it a great gift for someone who travels a lot ... or would rather spend more time playing with their pup than taking care of a plant. As a member of the agave family, it likes bright indirect to bright light.

4. For the cat lover: Parlor palm

Chamaedorea elegans is also known as a miniature fishtail dwarf palm, good luck palm, tabletop palm, and bella palm. Don't you think it would look great in a home with cats? The ASPCA gives it its blessing as non-toxic to cats. It will do best in bright, filtered light, but will adapt to low light as well – and otherwise requires very little care.

5. For the sun worshipper: Aloe vera

For a giftee who can't get enough sun, and in fact may get a bit too much, an aloe vera plant should be theirs. As the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences notes, "Aloe vera is touted as the 'burn plant,' the perfect natural remedy for a bad sunburn, and according to some studies, aloe vera can help. Initial research has shown aloe vera aids the skin in healing from sunburns and mild burns. In addition, aloe vera oil can moisturize the skin, helping you avoid the peeling normally associated with sun damage." As a succulent, aloe plants like a bright spot, but don't need much water.

6. For the chef: Windowsill herbs

Nothing beats having a few pots of windowsill herbs from which to snip while cooking. Herbs that do well inside include basil, bay laurel, chervil, chives, miny, oregano, parsely, rosemary, and thyme. You could also give edible flowers, like nasturtium or pansies. Some shops offer grow-your-own kits, or you could put together your own selection of potted herbs.

7. For the friend or the fortune seeker: Pilea peperomioides

This plant, ohhh, this plant. Also known as the Chinese money plant, pancake plant, UFO plant, and friendship plant, it is easily one of the most charming plants around. Legend has it that if you bury a coin in the soil, good fortune will come to you. But even better, as Summer Rayne Oakes explains in the video above, it is called the friendship plant because it is so easily propagated and shared with friends.

8. For the hedonist: Orchid

For the lover of beauty and pleasure on your gift list, few plants may be as well-known for their beauty and pleasure as the orchid. Orchids get a bad rap for being fussy, but actually there are many varieties that make easy and excellent indoor plants. RePotme notes, "With proper care an orchid can be in bloom for months each year and can live indefinitely ... A well cared for and varied orchid collection can provide continuous bloom every day of the year." How luxurious is that?

9. For the Type-A personality: Jade plant

jade plant© Barb Elkin
Plants are healing. In fact, one study goes so far as to suggest them as a “noninvasive, inexpensive, and effective complementary medicine for surgical patients.” Those researchers found that patients with houseplants had lower systolic blood pressure, and lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue as compared to patients without plants in their rooms. While that's not specific to the jade plant, it's as good a plant as any to give to someone in need of a little calm and well-being. It is generally amongst the plants credited with helping to clear indoor air pollution, so that's helpful too. And in the practice of feng shui, jade plant is considered a good luck charm, symbolic of growth and renewal, and especially for bringing financial wealth. Plus, it's just so pretty.

10. For the mad scientist: Venus flytrap

Because nothing says "happy holidays!" like a sci-fi carnivorous plant? I don't think I could feed a plant live insects, but it's hard to deny that these are exceptionally interesting plants. Better Homes & Gardens explains that they can go a month or two without food, they will eventually require a live insect – for that reason, they recommend keeping flytraps in closed terrariums where feeding is easier. It's kind of starting to sound Victorian...

11. For the detail-oriented: Bonsai tree

For the plant-loving, detail-oriented, nurturing type, few plants would be better than a miniature tree. Bonsai need attention; they need proper placement and watering, and pinching and trimming, among other things – but what a wonderful gift for the right person.

12. For the bathing beauty: A collections of ferns

If you have a giftee who loves to soak in the tub, this collection of ferns – a staghorn, a silver ribbon fern, and a lemon button fern – love humidity and are perfect "shower plants" for the bathroom. You can cobble together your own set of humidity-loving ferns, or you can order this specific collection straight from the Bloomscape greenhouse – three plants delivered to the door in eco-friendly pots for $65. See more here: Fern Friends Collection.

See more plant ideas in the related stories below.

12 houseplants for everyone on your gift list
Cat lover? New plant parent? Fortune seeker? Traveler? We've got the perfect plant for all.

Related Content on Treehugger.com