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Your partner really wants a houseplant this Valentine’s Day. Enough hints have been dropped to let you know that a flaming katie would be warmly welcomed onto the windowsill right now. A watering can has been staged strategically in front of every faucet in the house as a not-so-subtle reminder, and your partner always seems to gravitate toward the floral section of the supermarket and linger long whenever you pop in for a quick errand together. The good news is that you can find some really swell potted gifts without making a journey to the specialty nursery. But that’s just the starting point because a real gift from the heart means giving your new green adoptee a makeover that expresses your sentiments.

A Sharper Image

Although the kalanchoes, gerberas, mini designer aloes, cyclamens large and small, philodendrons, etc that can be found almost everywhere are lovely plants befitting your romantic partner, the presentation typically falls a little flat. The foil wrap, buckets, pails, or just plain green plastic containers at point-of-purchase are not going to send anyone’s pulse racing. You can easily improve on that lackluster look. With the help of a snazzy container and some organic Coast of Maine Bar Harbor potting soil—the type depends on what you’re growing—you can bring the look to a much higher level. And repotting is a snap. You can do this.

Food for Thought

Most houseplants sold at big box stores, etc are begging to be given a graduation. Check the root system to be sure: The roots should be visible and filling the previous container before repotting. But even if the plant is not potbound, keep the plant in a same sized container but shake out some of the old stuff and give it improved organic soil (like Coast of Maine) to jumpstart a new lease on life. Consider improving its appeal by moving it into a handsome terra cotta or glazed container with panache. Echo or accent the plant’s flower colors or foliar hues. Got a partner who loves retro? You can find some incredible McCoy containers and glazed midcentury masterpieces to up the ante. Or go with whatever flow is happening at the plant’s new home. Consider matching curtains, the décor, furnishings, or design themes with your pot. Find a silhouette that fits the recipient’s taste. But also check to make sure your new container has proper drainage for easiest care. If not, get out the drill and provide holes. Or, if you don’t want to jeopardize a container by drilling, fill the bottom of the container with an inch or two of gravel or pea stone and a handful of horticultural charcoal before adding the potting soil to filter the soil and keep it from going anaerobic.

Making your Gift User-Friendly

When you repot a houseplant, it becomes an easier family member to keep happy and healthy. With additional root space and nutritious soil, the plant will not be high maintenance (leaving your lovey with more time to spend linking with you!). Plus, you can solve display problems with a smart container. For example, if you purchased a philodendron, ivy, pathos, or similar plant with a trailing growth habit, you might want to provide a long, lean, cylinder-shaped container rather than a difficult-to-host hanging pot. With the additional height, the plant can easily shower down. Despite the extra elevation, always fill the full depth of the container with nutritious soil from top to bottom.



The best news is: After your little “intervention,” the plant is going to thrive. No matter what you gifted—from an African violet up to a monstera—your artistic composition is more likely to spark a nurturing reaction from any grateful recipient. Thanks to your thoughtful diligence, you’re all going to live happily ever after.

Written by award winning author, Tovah Martin.  Photos also taken by Tovah Martin.  Find her books and more information on her website:

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