Christmas plants make great gifts and for friends and family with a little outdoor space or a windowbox, these living pressies can be enjoyed for months (and sometimes even years) to come. Choose a robust hardy plant that will live happily outside all year round and it won’t be too difficult to look after either. There are thousands of plants to choose from, so to save you some time here are our top 10...
1. Pretty in pink
Hellebores (pictured above) are at the top of my all-time favourite winter plants list, with their stunning cup-shaped flowers that persist for month after month from January. Last year I was given a beautiful form called ‘Penny Pink’, which has marbled leaves and gorgeous pink flowers, and bloomed from February to June – no kidding, it really did. You’ll find this little gem at Burncoose Nurseries and Ashwood Nurseries.
2. Displays on the door
A decorative container busting with winter flowers will look fabulous from the moment it’s unwrapped. You’ll find a great choice at your local garden centre, or order through Interflora, which also offers hand-planted containers. My favourite is this winter outdoor trough (pictured above) which is brimming with flowers, foliage, and scented bulbs for added impact.
3. Roses that grow on you
Few plants can beat the beauty and fragrance of a rose, and there are so many on offer, from tall climbing roses that will cover an arch or scale a wall, to diminutive patio roses, ideal for tiny plots or pots on a balcony. Just remember that without their leaves or flowers, roses are not looking their best at this time of year, so I would opt for a plant in a pretty box, like those from specialist nursery David Austin.
4. Sophisticated topiary for trendy friends
For a stylish gift to dress up an entranceway or patio, opt for a topiary spiral, or order a pair to flank a front door. Top Topiary has a comprehensive selection, including these dramatic box plants that have been clipped to perfection (decorative pots are sold separately). You could also throw in a pair of topiary shears to keep the plants in shape.
5. Fruit for the allotmenteer
Gardening friends who like to grow their own fruit and veg will love a pair of these pretty pink blueberries from Suttons. Pink Lemonade blueberries produce a heavy crop of sweet fruits, and Suttons recommends buying two plants, which aid pollination and improve harvest yields.
6. Borders in a box
For new home-owners or those looking for a quick fix to update their gardens, check out Garden on a Roll which offers plants carefully selected by a top garden designer. Simply choose from the border types for sun or shade and select the area that needs planting. The plants will then arrive by post with a ground sheet plan of where to put them. It's as easy as that.
7. Scented winter plants
Some plants flower in the depths of winter, and make an immediate impression at Christmas. Choose from an evergreen Mahonia, which has strongly scented yellow flowers, Christmas box (Sarcococca) with its tiny white flowers that emit a powerful perfume, or the spidery fragrant blooms (above) of a beautiful witch hazel (Hamamelis). You’ll find them all at the garden centre or from online nurseries, such as Burncoose.
8. Traditional Christmas plants
Holly’s glowing red berries and spiky evergreen leaves have made it as much a symbol of Christmas as the turkey and stuffing, so what could be better than a real, live plant to celebrate the season? Check that the variety you choose is a female, as the males don’t produce berries, and look out for those with variegated foliage to add sparkle to a dreary winter garden. The forms ‘Golden King’ (above) and ‘Handsworth New Silver’ are great choices. These popular varieties are widely available online or from garden centres.
9. Citrus sets to grow your own cocktails
For friends with a conservatory or heated greenhouse, wrap up a citrus plant. These compact trees produce fruit in winter and bear delicously-scented flowers too. Plants4Presents has a great range of gift packages, including this Grow Your Own Cocktail set, which includes a miniature limequat, bottle of rum and fresh pot of mint to make zesty mojito cocktails.
10. Trees that make a statement
Winter is the perfect time to plant a tree and the Woodland Trust are encouraging us all to grow more of these majestic plants to improve our environment so if your friends have space in their garden, consider a tree. A fruit tree, such as an apple or pear, offers both spring blossom and delicious fruit, while trees with stunning stems, such as birches or this beautiful Tibetan cherry (Prunus serrula) with its shiny mahogany bark, come into their own in winter. Try fruit tree specialists Blackmoor and shrub and tree nursery Hilliers for a wide choice.
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Zia Allaway, Garden Expert
View all posts by Zia Allaway, Garden Expert