5 creative ways to gift plants this Christmas for under $10

Nothing beats a living gift, but instead of giving your true love a pūkeko in a pōnga tree, let these ideas grow on you.

When it comes to buying plants as gifts, it’s easy to head to the garden centre and be tempted by exotic fruit trees and darling infant kauri, but pause and consider! Does your intended recipient want a kauri shading their house in 50 years? Do they actually like kumquats? If you’re not sure, a garden voucher is always well received.

Also, delay giving plants as gifts if the recipient is about to head off on holiday. With that disclaimer, the following gift ideas can all be made, shaped or grown for around $10 (get the kids involved) and are ideal as eco-friendly Secret Santa gifts.

1 Rosemary topiary

Buy two small creeping rosemary plants from the garden centre. Make sure each plant has at least one long stem. Fill a pot with potting mix, then bend a piece of flexible wire into a heart shape (you could re-purpose a coathanger). Poke each end of the wire heart into the potting mix and plant each rosemary plant at the base of the wire. Take the longest stems of rosemary and gently twist them (this is wonderfully fragrant!) around the wire until they reach the top of their side of the heart. Cut the other stems off at the base of the plant.

Festive small pots of rosemary cactus and sage
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a rosemary topiary, a cactus in a gilded string pot – made by my eight-year-old – and good old sage (essential for herb stuffing) in a tin can tied with burlap and red string.

2 Herb salt

Get your fancy gourmet on. Herb salt can be used to season meat, pasta, slices of tomatoes and cucumber – or give anything an extra kick! Gather bunches of herbs such as rosemary, oregano, parsley and thyme. Strip the leaves from the stems and place on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Bake on a low heat with the oven door open until the herbs crumble between your fingers. Grind herbs with a mortar and pestle or break up with the back of a spoon. Combine equal quantities herbs and coarse sea salt and pour into jars.

3 Upcycled Christmas cans

Culinary herbs are always welcome in a kitchen. Mint, parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano are all popular choices and look particularly fetching planted in cans decorated with burlap and ribbons. Go for cacti or succulents for non-cooks or people that are holidaying after Christmas or have fingers of death.

4 String it on

If you’ve always wanted to make a macramé plant hanger out of string but haven’t had the time, here is the next best thing! Paste PVA glue onto a pot and then carefully wrap string around it until it’s covered. Use several different colours of string to create stripes. My son, Harry, and I brushed ours lightly with gold paint for some extra Christmassy shimmer.

Potted green salad vegetables

5 Bring your own microgreens

Take homegrown microgreens with you to Christmas dinner. Fill a shallow pot with seed-raising mix and spritz it with water. Thickly sprinkle microgreen seeds on top, then sprinkle a thin layer of seed-raising mix on top of the seeds. Place in a warm spot and spritz daily. In about a week you’ll have a healthy crop of microgreens. Or pot up punnets of lettuce plants in terracotta pots and give those to your host.

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