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UF/IFAS Extension: Plants Make an Excellent Hostess Gift for Holidays

ORLANDO, Fla. – You’re headed to the home of family or friends for a great holiday dinner, and wonder what you should take for the host. Forget the traditional chocolates and wine, because plants make a great gift, say Extension agents with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“Plants make a great gift because they last quite a while with proper care, and they brighten up any home,” said Ed Thralls, a UF/IFAS Extension Orange County horticulturalist.

Thralls suggests the following plants as gifts:

  • Poinsettia
  • Christmas cactus
  • Amaryllis
  • Kalanchoe
  • Cyclamen.

“The Poinsettia is a perennial favorite, but why not think outside the box and try something new,” Thralls said. “These other plants do well in the cold, are beautiful and will flourish.”

While hollies are fine, Thralls said gift buyers should forget the Norfolk Island pine. “It grows up to 40 feet and will dwarf any single-family home. Plus, it doesn’t do well in the cold,” he said.

According to Kaydie McCormick, Master Gardener coordinator for UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County, orchids grown in Florida make a great gift. “They’re local, and if you don’t overwater them, they will last for a long time,” she said.

McCormick also suggested the drought-tolerant African violet. She also added:

  • The eastern red cedar, if you have the homeowner has room in their landscape. “It’s sometimes used as a substitute for a traditional Christmas tree in Florida. You can dress it up or let its natural beauty shine,” she said.
  • Junipers are a hardy plant that do well in various soil and weather conditions, McCormick said.
  • A terrarium with succulents. These are crafty and handmade, and succulents are low maintenance. “You can find directions online,” McCormick said. “I did it one year for my family and they were a pretty big hit.”


The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.