House plants make great gifts for your Valentine

Heart leaf philadendron’s heart-shaped flowers make for a perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

There are many benefits of giving houseplants, winter or summer. Besides the joy of gifting a living plant to a friend or loved one, we benefit from their capability of filtering pollutants, adding moisture to the dry winter air, providing oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide.

Many homes today never have an open window. Houses are built tight to reduce loss of heat and cold, so many pollutants just stay in our homes and we inhale them. NASA research has shown that plants can remove up to 87% of volatile organic compounds. They also release 97% of the water they take in. NASA suggests about 15 plants in an average size home for purifying the air naturally. But even one plant added this Valentine’s Day can uplift the spirits in dreary winter weather.

Having house plants does not have to involve 8-foot ficus trees. A few plants in 6-8 inch pots like an indoor herb garden for your kitchen can do the job nicely. Very little work is needed to maintain most houseplants: a little water, some grooming to remove dead blossoms or leaves, and an occasional application of fertilizer.

There are choices to please everyone. Plants may be flowering, vining, ferns or succulents. “Romantic” houseplant varieties to consider for gifting are potted orchids, miniature roses, heart leaf philodendron, heartleaf begonia, heart fern, bamboo plants grafted in the shape of a heart to name a few.

It is always smart to consider the right plant for the right place, besides plant variety, consider the environment it will be chosen for to give it a fighting chance. Here are some suggestions of low maintenance plants that you may consider.

Barrel cactus has modified leaves with sharp spikes for protection. Cast-iron plant (Aspidistra) can handle different light and temperature changes, is drought tolerant and slow growing. Corn plant (Dracaena) is a slow growing plant with a thick base to store water. Jade plant is a popular succulent that is basically impossible to kill. Plant in a large enough pot because they are fast growers and top heavy. Aloe vera plant is best known for its plump leaves that can provide a soothing gel for cuts and burns, it is a fast grower when it is in a high light area and is durable. Golden pothos is a fast- growing philodendron, with striking variegated leaves. Ribbon plant (sansevieria) is a succulent with thick, waxy leaves and likes to be pot bound. Ivy plants can withstand dryness, are great for mantels because they have a horizontal habit and can tolerate different light environments.

Heart leafed philodendron has heart shaped leaves and dates back to the Victorian age, when people first started enjoying houseplants — it is a favorite through the years. Spider plant is extremely adaptable, propagates easily and tolerates most growing conditions. The rubber plant features leaves that darken to deep burgundy and likes to dry out in-between watering. Umbrella tree schefflera, is fast growing and easy to contain in size by clipping the top leaves.

Hoping this year, you will consider making a live plant choice for that special Valentine gift to a loved one, friend or yourself!

For additional information or questions about the Master Gardener Program and their new classes for 2020, please contact Nebraska Extension, West Central Research and Extension Center at 308-532-2683.

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