Easter, Mother’s Day, spring birthdays and anniversaries—flowering plants can be a popular request for special occasions this time of year. Who doesn’t want some spring growing inside about now? An uber-thoughtful gift for a friend who loves hydrangea, a mother who favors azaleas, a gardener who grows lilies.
Flowering plants can be ideal gifts, as long as sender and recipient realize there is a difference between a gift plant and a nursery plant. “So my friend/mother/gardener can plant this outside once the blooms are finished?” No, not necessarily.Gift plants are grown in greenhouses and fertilized for quicker and abundant blooms, growth which can come at the expense of a longer life for the plant.
Gift hydrangeas generally don’t do well once planted outside, although there are people who have made a success of adding their gift hydrangea to the outside landscape. Harden off a gift hydrangea by putting it in a cool place in your house, then outside on a porch once the possibility of a frost has passed, and finally planting once planting season had arrived. These plants will not blossom again the first season, but if they survive the winter, they may blossom the next season. If they are kept in a pot and brought back in for the winter, hydrangeas still need a cooler period of dormancy to thrive and bloom, and even so, may not grow well in the house. (Always check for insects before bringing any plant back in the house!) Attempting to grow a gift hydrangea inside season after season is for the educated, dedicated gardener. And growing a gift hydrangea outside is hit or miss at best. Enjoy the fabulous showy blossoms of the gift hydrangea in the moment, and take anything after that as a bonus.
Gift azaleas may make the transition outside smoothly, or not, depending upon the variety. Read the tag on the plant if there is one to discover if this plant can over-winter in the area. If there is no tag, the best recommendation is to assume they can not winter outside. Enjoy them outside in the summer, then bring the plant back in when cool weather comes. Place in a bright area with indirect sun. Keep well watered, and if the air is dry, try placing the plant on a saucer filled with pebbles and water for humidity.
Gift Easter lilies may be the easiest of the three to transition to an outdoor garden. Once the danger of frost is passed, trim off the dead foliage and plant outside. If other lilies are in the garden, likely this lily will join the group and blossom year after year.
One last tip: When you want us to send out a beautiful flowering plant to that special someone, give us lead time. We aren’t a nursery and we don’t keep a corral of these plants outside. We special order premium stand-alone gift plants to provide the best product available for that occasion. We often keep a small selection in the shop, but the more specific your wishes are, the more you want to call days ahead–so we can do our best to send a flowering gift plant that is both a beautiful surprise and a cheery message for the person you are thinking about.