"It's the thought that counts" usually only comes up when a gift hasn't quite hit the mark. But the phrase takes on a totally new and wholly positive meaning when a gift displays the giver's labor of love and forward thinking—regardless of how much money the gift cost.
Making plant babies (aka propagating) is exactly this kind of gift-giving. It's personal, appropriate for just about everyone (from your kids' dance teacher to the cousins you see once a year), and—most importantly—they are so stinkin' cute.
But if you want to give them as holiday gifts, you'll want to start making your mini plants soon.
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You can start with plants you already own, or buy a parent plant at your local garden center to spawn off into small starter plants. Ideal candidates for baby plant presents are those that are both easy to propagate and easy to care for.
4 Plant Babies that Make Great Gifts
Here are some great plant options and how to propagate them:
Rosemary is one of the hardiest herbs. It looks festive, smells great, and can be used for cooking.
To make rosemary plants from cuttings:
- Snip a three- to four-inch sprig just below a node.
- Strip the leaves off the bottom inch.
- Dip the ends in rooting powder to give them a jump start (optional).
- Plant them in loose soil about one inch deep.
- Keep moist.
- Transplant in about four to six weeks.
Read more here.
Umbrella plants are hard to kill and root extremely easily. My mother sent me a cutting from her plant when my husband went on a business trip to San Francisco a decade ago. He forgot it in his suitcase for a few days. That neglected sprig's offspring is now three full, bushy plants.
To make equally tough yet pretty umbrella plant babies:
- Cut one "umbrella" from your mother plant.
- Stick it in soil.
- Water regularly.
Alternately, you can root umbrella plant cuttings in water and transplant to soil once roots develop. Read more about umbrella plants here.
Pothos are "stupid easy" as this article describes. Like umbrella plants, they can survive on very little attention and multiply extremely easily. They thrive in both soil and containers of water, and they can be trained to be bushy or trailing.
To make presents from the pothos you have at home:
- Cut or pinch a clipping that includes a node.
- Root in soil or water.
- Keep moist.
Succulents are known for how easy they are to propagate and tiny succulents are downright adorable. Consider including instructions for propagation with your gift so the recipient gets the most out of her present.
Many succulents propagate through "pups," little babies that grow near the parent plant. Others can be reproduced through leaf cuttings. For either method, follow these steps:
- Cut off a pup or leaf.
- Let it callous over for a few days.
- Place the pup stem or leaf in soil appropriate for succulents.
How to Turn Propagated Plants Into Gifts
These classic terracotta pots are perfect for any kind of plant baby and are your least expensive option at around $1.50 a piece. Wrap them in thin ribbon or a few rounds of twine tied in a bow and they're ready to go. Or you can try your hand at painting them with modern, fun or festive treatments.
If you want to kick it up a notch and get a design-y pot that becomes part of the gift, check out these mini planters.
If you want to go the extra mile, print off a tag with instructions on how to care for and propagate the plant for their new owner, so they can share the love again next year.