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A house plant can make a great gift when it is well chosen. House plants are often appreciated because they are environmentally friendly, contributing oxygen to the houses they live in while eliminating the waste associated with cut flowers. Plants will also add to the décor of a home, making them especially suitable as housewarming presents for people who have just moved into a new home. There are some things to keep in mind when selecting a plant which will make the gift more likely to be appreciated.
If possible, it helps to determine that someone really wants a plant. If the recipient has no house plants, this may mean that he or she doesn't want to deal with them, or is concerned about messes, in which case a plant would make a bad gift. Asking a few well-phrased questions may determine whether or not someone would welcome a house plant.
Ease of care is another important consideration. Some people spend a great deal of time caring for their house plants, and they enjoy the investment of energy in their leafy housemates. Other people might prefer plants such as ficus, bamboo, and spider plants which thrive on minimal attention and do not require fertilizing, pruning, and other care. An orchid, for example, would make a poor gift for someone who tends to kill houseplants.
The levels of available light in the home should go into a choice of house plant as well, as it would be a shame to present someone with a plant which will die from lack of light or too much light. Thinking about the design scheme and feel of a home is advised also when selecting a plant and a pot. Someone with an Asian-style house would probably not appreciate a philodendron in a macrame planter, for example, and someone with an Italian-style home might enjoy an ivy topiary in a terra-cotta pot. If a plant and pot look like they would fit well in a home, the gift will probably be appreciated much more, because some thought has obviously gone into the selection.
Potential toxicity is an important concern which people sometimes forget when selecting a house plant. If someone has pets, a list of plants toxic to pets should be consulted to confirm that a house plant will be safe, and plants toxic to people should be avoided for families with young children. Choosing a plant that will not hurt any members of the household is generally advisable, unless one is sending a very specific sort of message.
Finally, it's a good idea to think about selecting a plant which has some sort of meaning to the recipient, or a plant which complements the relationship between giver and recipient. A friend trying to make up after an argument might consider the tongue-in-cheek gift of a peace lily, for example, while someone mourning the death of a parent who loved roses might like a small tea rose.