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Live plants are a wonderful gift for any occasion. If you have a collection of healthy houseplants already growing in your home, chances are that by planning ahead you can create these gifts for a very small cost. Propagate your houseplants, present them in a hand-decorated pot, and your gift recipient will treasure them for years.

Any plant can be forced to reproduce, but some varieties are much easier than others. Spider plants are among the easiest, because they naturally produce “babies” at the end of their stems. These babies will develop roots quickly when they touch the soil. Place potting soil in a small pot, and lay the baby plant on top so that it will not be disturbed. When it has begun to grow a good root system and seems firmly attached, it can be cut from the mother plant. Another simple way to create a new plant is by division. Many varieties, such as aloe, peace lily, and cast iron plant, create “babies” around the base of the original. Unpot the plant, and separate the babies by pulling gently and cutting away roots until it is free. Baby plants grow faster if separated with a large amount of roots.

Leaf cuttings can be rooted easily from plants such as philodendron and pothos. Cut a healthy leaf from the stem, and place it in either a jar of water or a small pot full of potting soil. Many people recommend dipping the end in a rooting hormone, available at garden stores, but this is not usually necessary. Keep the soil moist, or if using a jar of water, change the water often, and place the leaf cutting in a moderate to low light location.

Once the plant is established and attractive, it’s time to think about presentation. The pot can be as important a part of the gift as the plant itself! Purchase a few terra-cotta pots and paint them with geometric or abstract designs; glue small shells or beads to the pot; decorate it with ribbons – the possibilities are endless. Any container can be a good pot for a houseplant, though it’s best to have holes for drainage. If you’re fortunate to have a variety of “baby” plants, you might try arranging them in a planter or basket with plastic liner.

It may take most of a year for your new plants, especially those propagated from cuttings, to reach a good size for a gift. But if you’re patient and plan ahead, it’s possible to create personalized gifts with very little expense. Plants are good for the environment and help purify the air, they add beauty to the room, and almost everyone enjoys them. Don’t just let your plants sit on a shelf and grow – one healthy houseplant can create many more and please everyone on your gift list.