Issue: December 8th, 1997

Gardeners' gifts


For Christmas I want to buy some plants for gardener friends. The problem is that these friends don't grow houseplants. What can I buy that can be grown indoors, then planted outside where they do their gardening?


This is difficult. Do your friends not garden indoors because they do not have a suitable, brightly lighted room, in which to grow plants? If so, I wouldn't recommend giving them anything that they would have to try to maintain indoors until spring. However, you could buy several packets of flower or vegetable seeds, staple or tape them together with a soda straw to form "seed packet flowers," and give them a bouquet of seed packets. Or perhaps, you could buy them gardening supplies such as gloves, a sprayer, a new or exotic type of garden implement, containers for outdoor container gardening, a garden book, or a subscription to a gardening magazine.

If they have an appropriate indoor site for gardening, then they may like a miniature rose to grow indoors until they can plant it outside in the spring. Geraniums, chrysanthemums, and many other outdoor-type plants can be purchased in the nursery at this time of year in pots, grown indoors until spring and then planted outside.

Do your friends like to cook? If so, potted herbs may be more appreciated than other types of plants for windowsill gardening. In the spring, the herbs may be planted outside. Chives, bunching onions, oregano, thyme, and rosemary are some of the herbs you can find in the nursery for giving as gifts.

With all of these ideas, be sure you understand why your friends don't grow plants indoors. Some people are allergic to certain plants or the fungi in the potting soil. Some do not want to be tied-down to their indoor plants in the winter. They may prefer to travel to see friends and family. Indoor plants can inhibit travel plans. Some gardeners just want a break from gardening so that in the spring they are rejuvenated and anxious to return to the garden. Some have just never tried to grow plants indoors or think it is too difficult for them. Only the last of these is a candidate for indoor plants for a Christmas gift.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!