Gardenias enjoy a bit of sun.">A gardenia plant on a sunny kitchen counter

I Received a Plant Gift! Now What?

Plants are often given as gifts for special occasions. When a business owner opens a new store, customers may send plants as congratulations. In time of bereavement, you may receive a plant as a gift. A blooming plant makes a cheerful birthday or get well present. These gifts are a thoughtful way of communicating well wishes.

But what if you don’t have a green thumb? If you have received a plant gift, you may not know what to do with it. Here are some tips for dealing with the gift of a living plant.

Determine the Species of the Plant

Most plants come with a tag that will tell you what kind of plant it is. In most cases, these will be common houseplants, such as a dracaena, pothos ivy, philodendron, or arrowhead vine. These tags will tell you how to take care of the plant, and how much light it should receive.

If there is no tag on the plant, the best thing to do is to get on the internet and look up houseplants. If you search for images of house plants, you’ll see hundreds of pictures. Compare them to your plant, and you may find the one you have and how to care for it. You can also type up a short description of the plant and plug that into a search engine. For example, “house plant with spiky leaves.”

Images of house plants on a search engine

Use a search engine to help you identify your new house plant. The image search feature can be very helpful.

Learn How to Care for Your Plant

Different plants require different kinds of attention. Most house plants require steady moisture. You may need to mist the plant occasionally, water it a little bit every day, and provide proper drainage to avoid root rot.

Also take light into consideration. Many plants can thrive under incandescent or fluorescent indoor lighting, but most will want some sunshine.

Expect your plant to grow as time goes by. As your plant flourishes, be prepared to place it in a larger pot. This will happen about every two to three years.

A gardenia plant on a sunny kitchen counter

Consider your plant’s light needs when choosing a spot for it. Gardenias enjoy a bit of sun.


Find a Spot for the Plant

If the plant that has been given as a gift requires low light, it means that it will burn up if the sun shines on it. It will not be able to tolerate direct sun and UV rays. These plants usually do quite well in rooms and offices with normal, overhead or task lighting. Most of these plants will still need at least 8 hours a day of light, but overhead light is just fine.

Low to medium light requirements can handle life near a window, if no direct sunbeams come in. All of these plants should spend their lives indoors, never exposed to UV light.

However, medium to bright light house plants can spend some time on the patio or porch during warm weather. Just be sure, once again, to keep them under shade so that no UV touches the plant, or it will fry where it sits.

If a plant requires direct sunlight, it should have a tag designating so. You can place these plants in the sun, where UV will keep them healthy.

Write a Thank You Note

Don’t overlook this step! When you receive a plant as a gift, write a short note of thanks. Say something like, “Thank you so much for the lovely dracaena. It looks great on the front counter, and will grace our waiting room for years to come.”

Or, you can say something like, “Thank you for the pothos ivy. Mom had one in her kitchen window, and this will always remind me of her.”

To go the extra mile, you might even send a plant back to the sender as your own form of thanks. In some cultures, a return gift is expected. If this is the case, you can reciprocate in kind. If someone gives you a plant, they probably won’t mind having one themselves.

Your plants can give you pleasure for many years to come, if you care for them properly. Your friend or loved one will be happy to know that their gift was treasured for a long time.

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