Though flowers are always a lovely and festive gesture for Mother's Day, why not send something that will brighten up mom's space for a lot longer? This year, breathe a little longer-lasting life into your mom's home with a houseplant.
"As a mother, and plant parent myself, I would much rather receive a plant as a gift over flowers," says Courtney Warwick, founder of BLKGIRLGRNTHUMB Courtney Warwick says. "There are so many different plants to choose from, and the cool thing is they are just as vibrant as flowers."
Not only are plants just as pretty as a colorful bouquet, but they also provide a variety of perks beyond their aesthetic appeal. "A number of scientific studies show being around houseplants can improve our health," Costafarms’ horticulturist Justin Hancock explains. "Benefits include lowering stress levels, lowering blood pressure, improving our moods, improving cognition and memory and more." And who wouldn't want to gift their mom a life filled with just a little less stress?
Plus, there's the whole fact that houseplants are a better long-term investment than flowers. "With good care, a houseplant can continue to grow for decades, getting bigger and better with age," Hancock continues. "And while they’re beautiful home décor, a plant never goes out of style (unlike throw pillows and other décor items)."
If you’re nervous about shipping a living thing in the mail, don’t worry. All the pros agree that many plants can reach their destination in one piece. "Most plants handle being shipped across the country just fine," says Hancock. "You can order mom pretty much any houseplant and, as long as it’s packed well, expect it to arrive in good condition."
While remember to water plants is the top care priority, indoor plants can also accumulate dust, so the leaves should be wiped down periodically. "This helps the plant to continue to photosynthesize and grow properly," Warwick explains.
Between the watering, repotting, and cleaning most plants require, we understand you might be hesitant to give mom more chores. Don't worry: With the help of Hancock, Warwick, and Bloomscape’s Plant Mom, Joyce Mast, we’ve created a list of six plants that are surprisingly low maintenance.
Polka Dot Begonia (Begonia maculata)
Completely eye-catching and exotic, this stylish houseplant features wing-shaped leaves covered in shimmery silver polka dots. Though a young begonia maculata makes for cute desk decor, and as it gets older it can reach up to four feet tall. Fully grown, it can brighten up any corner from the floor up.
Skip the polka dot begonia if your mom has pets. According to the ASPCA, this plant can be toxic when ingested by cats or dogs, so it's best to avoid, even if it lives on a desk.
The soil should be damp but not too wet as it’s quite susceptible to root rot. So before dousing it in water, do a finger test. Hancock notes that the top inch or two should be dry, but after that, the dampness should be detectable. To get to this point requires regular watering, about once a week.
To maintain the vibrant silver spots, Hancock says that the polka dot Begonia does best in bright yet indirect light. The best placement would be on a desk or table in a room with lots of natural light, not on a sun-soaked windowsill. Keep this plant in peak health by fertilizing the soil every two to four weeks, especially when the plant is actively growing. A balanced, water-soluble fertilizer is recommended.
Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia argyreia)
With an appearance similar to a watermelon rind, Hancock calls the Watermelon Peperomia "delightfully showy." The symmetrical silver stripes on the leaves contrast beautifully against the red-tinted stems. Overall this plant may not be as colorful as flowers, but it’s equally as aesthetically pleasing. As a bonus Watermelon Peperomias may sprout flowers during the summer months that have a similar green hue to the leaves.
Watermelon Peperomia plants enjoy extra humidity, so this probably isn't the right pick for moms who live in drier climates. To boost the amount of moisture this plant soaks up, mist the leaves a few times per week and place the pot on a pebble tray.
Similar to the Polka Dot Begonia, Hancock points out that Watermelon Peperomias need to be watered until the soil feels damp about an inch down from the top. Overwatering may cause root rot, so when in doubt, it’s best to under water.
Hancock also explains that just about any houseplant will brown on the leaves and sunburn if it’s not used to being in direct light. So tell mom to place the Watermelon Peperomia in a spot where there's medium to bright light — but not direct sunlight. If you do choose to move a plant to a brighter spot, it’s best to slowly acclimate it to the light. This means giving it an hour in the sun, then two, then three, until it’s used to the brightness. To maximize its health, during the spring, add a diluted liquid fertilizer to the soil every two to four weeks.
Philodendron Brasil (Philodendron hederaceum)
With leaves shaped like hearts, Philodendron Brasil is the perfect little plant to remind your mom in a non-cheesy way how much you love her. Thanks to its trailing vines and ability to grow fast, this lively plant is full of charm.
Similar to the Polka Dot Begonia, the leaves on the Philodendron Brasil can be toxic when consumed, so anyone with pets or young children should consider skipping — or keep it somewhere well out of reach.
According to Bloomscape’s Plant Mom, Joyce Mast, this plant is a great option for pretty much any type of space and will adapt to nearly all light conditions — making it a strong choice for newer plant parents. However, if placed in direct sunlight the leaves may start to brown due to leaf burn, so give it a bit of shade, like on top of a bookcase where the leaves can crawl down.
Allow the topsoil to dry out between waterings, which should happen about once a week. To help avoid overwatering, during the winter months, cut back on how often moisture is added based on how dry or damp the topsoil feels. To be safe, Hancock says that it’s better to underwater it than overwater the plant. If the environment is especially dry due to air conditioning or any other indoor factors, mist the leaves every few days.
Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
With the look of a mini tree, the Ponytail Palm technically qualifies as succulent, making it a slow grower and drought-tolerant. As Mast points out, this plant is ideal for people who have little time to care for home greenery or anyone who travels often, as it requires very little attention, and "can be left alone to soak up the sunlight," says Mast.
The ponytail palm is slow-growing and compact, making it an ideal pick for those who live in smaller spaces or have little room for imposing plants.
With a bulb-like trunk that stores water, this plant only needs to be watered every couple of weeks (and even less during the winter months), and thrives in bright light, but can manage in shady areas as well.
If your mom’s home has a working radiator, she’ll want to keep this plant away from it and any other dry areas. If she starts noticing the leaf edges browning, that means it needs to be moved to a slightly more humid spot.
Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
This beautiful leafy plant will add an instant tropical flair to any space. "Its dark green fronds create a bushy, lush plant perfect for tabletops, desks, and shelves," says Mast. An all-around crowd-pleaser, Parlor Palms are non-toxic and adaptable. This plant is a simple, easy gift for just about anyone.
Though the parlor palm may grow quite slowly, it can get pretty big (about four to six feet). So if the mom you're sending it to has limited space, this might not be the right pick.
This species of houseplant can be watered once a week to every other week, depending on how much sunlight it soaks up. Hancock says the first inch or two should be dry, unless it’s in a bigger pot, in which case it should be dry a little further down into the soil. To figure out how often it needs to be watered, simply allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
Though Parlor Palms do best in medium to bright light, this plant can adapt to lower-level light, as well. However, it should never be in intense, direct sunlight as the leaves will start to brown and burn.
As a result of its weak root system, this plant shouldn’t be repotted unless absolutely necessary. A simple top dressing of fresh soil should be enough to keep it healthy and happy.
Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
Thanks to the colorful hue of the leaves, Hancock says the Chinese Evergreen is "just as cheery as a bouquet of flowers, but will continue to grow for years." He continues, "Bearing leaves artfully decorated with streaks, stripes, or splashes of purple, red, pink, chartreuse, cream, and white, there’s a variety for every look." Chinese Evergreens are sturdy, resilient, non-toxic, and incredibly beautiful.
This houseplant needs a thorough watering once a week. However, Hancock notes that it can survive a few weeks between waterings if, say, you're away from home. Prevent root rot, which Chinese Evergreens are prone to, by allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.
Warwick says that this plant thrives in bright, indirect light, however, it can adapt to everything from low to bright light. To maintain its vibrant hues, though, medium light is best. Rotate the plant every so often to ensure even growth on all sides. If it’s housed in a lower light area, the leaves will need to be dusted off to photosynthesize efficiently.
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Originally Appeared on Allure