Published on 04/29/15

Take the guess work out of Mother's Day giving

By Josie A Krogh

Mother’s Day is less two weeks away, prompting a scramble for last-minute gifts. Not to worry – UGA Extension horticulturists are here to help.

Potted ferns and cut flowers are Mother’s Day staples, but there are many other unique and thoughtful Mother’s Day gifts. For example, hand-painted flowerpots are great gifts from young children.

“It didn’t matter what flower was planted in them because I have a reminder of their little fingers and creativity,” said Sheri Dorn, a UGA Extension horticulturist and director of the Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteers program.

Another idea for honoring mothers, those here with us as well as in our memories, is planting a tree. Dorn recommends redbud and katsura trees.

“Their heart-shaped leaves just ooze all the love we feel for our moms,” she said.

The redbud (Cercis canadensis) has pink or purple blossoms with heart-shaped leaves and is an early flowering tree; it adds color to gardens. The katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) has heart-shaped leaves that offer an array of colors throughout the year, going from reddish-purple in the spring to a deep green and then crisp yellow in the fall.

Dorn also suggests giving hanging baskets with mixed annuals – these are a great way to brighten a front porch.

Potted geraniums are great gifts as they can live inside or outside and will flower year-round with bright light. Geraniums can last year after year if they are brought inside before the first frost, she said.

African violets are another great gift. They flower indoors, don’t take up much room and produce flowers year-round as well.

Most popular gift plants – African violets and ferns, among others – can last for months or years if treated correctly, said Paul Thomas, a professor of horticulture at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and author of “Care of Holiday and Gift Plants,” UGA Extension Circular 951.

The key is to make sure the plants have adequate light, are properly watered and are kept at normal, household temperatures, he said.

One mistake people often make is leaving decorative wrapping or foil on the plant’s pot.

“If possible, remove these pot coverings, or punch holes in the bottom of the pot to promote good drainage, then place the pot in a saucer to protect furniture,” Thomas wrote.

For more information on choosing and caring for Mother’s Day gift plants, see the publication “Care of Holiday and Gift Plants” at

Josie Krogh is a student writer with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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