Gift Dilemmas, Solved! Top picks for the hard to please

Gift Dilemmas, Solved! Top picks for the hard to please

Gift Dilemmas, Solved! Top picks for the hard to please
dwarf conifer in a white container in front of a fire with a wrapped gift at base

Photos by Monrovia: Doreen Wynja

Need a little help finding presents for the most challenging members of your gift list? We've got you covered with some fantastic plants. Below you'll find over 20 plant picks for the people who have you stumped. We've organized them into 8 common personas that we've heard can be especially hard to shop for. Need more inspiration? Follow us on social media @MonroviaPlants.

Find these expertly grown Monrovia plants at your local garden center or subscribe to be notified when you can pre-order for 2023. 

Give the gift of nature with an eGift card that will inspire your friends and family to Grow Beautifully. 

1. The Mom Who "Doesn't Need Anything"

For the person on your list who insists they don't want or need anything, consider gifting a shrub that is spectacular and special in some way. Here are three beautiful options that will surprise mom and spread joy for years to come. 

Nuccio's Gem

Mom will fall in love with the sparkling white, formal, double blooms and the glossy, dark green foliage. This mid-season bloomer is a prized plant of the milder regions of the U.S. Filtered sun. Up to 8' tall and wide. Zones 8-10.

Seaside Serenade® Glacier
Bay Hydrangea

This conversation piece will be her pride and joy, with brilliant, crisp-white lacecap blooms that pop against the dramatic black stems. This rebloomer flowers all summer and into fall. Perfect for containers! Partial shade to partial sun. Up to 3' tall and wide. Zones 4-9.

Little Darling®

What's better than mom's favorite fragrant lilac? One that blooms twice a year! Large clusters of dark-purple buds open to classic lilac-hue flowers. Blooms heavily in spring, with a second bloom set in fall. Compact, nicely rounded shape.  Full sun. Up to 4' tall and wide. Zones 4-8.

2. The New Gardener 

If you know someone who was lucky enough to find the joy of gardening recently, keep their passion for their new hobby going by gifting a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow, unique, and exciting. 

Golden Duke®
Eastern Hemlock

A gorgeous gift that can remain in a large container for the holidays and then be planted in the garden come spring. The golden yellow foliage glows on graceful, upright, pyramidal arching branches, and has improved sun tolerance over other gold hemlocks. Bright yellow-orange winter color.
Partial to full sun. Up to 10' tall, 3' wide. Zones 4-8.

Sirens' Song™ Dark
Night Heuchera

New gardeners will love this mesmerizing new heuchera with deep purple-red, sun-tolerant foliage. Magnificent sprays of reddish-pink blooms will lure hummingbirds to the garden in late spring. Plus, they're easy to grow and you won't find anything else like them. Partial shade to partial sun. Up to 18" tall, 15" wide. Zones 4-9.

Nitty Gritty™
White Rose

Just the thing for a new gardener, this very durable, own-root, fuss-free groundcover rose produces an abundance of lovely blooms while offering excellent disease resistance and a self-cleaning, easy-to-care-for habit. The white double blooms provide exquisite warm-season color, adding great low-maintenance curb appeal to the landscape. Full sun. Up to 3' tall, 4' wide. Zones 4-9.

3. The HGTV-Obsessed Mother-in-Law

Hey, we're guilty of intense love for HGTV, too! These choices reflect the aesthetic and style we often see while we're enjoying our favorite home and garden shows. Plus, check out our plants in these HGTV Deluxe Garden Makeovers for more inspiration. 

Teddy Bear®
Southern Magnolia

This very compact southern magnolia features an upright form with shiny, deep green leaves that have heavy, velvety, reddish-brown undersides, and classic, large 6- to 8-inch wide, fragrant, white flowers. A superb specimen tree for smaller landscapes, or use as an accent in larger landscapes. Full sun. Up to 20' tall, 12' wide.  Zones 7-9.

Faulkner Boxwood

This slow-growing, dwarf habit means less pruning! Glossy, bright green foliage is densely packed and takes on a rich bronze tinge during the winter. An exceptional specimen for a container or landscape. Easily shaped into a tidy hedge or topiary form. Partial to full sun. Up to 4' tall, 3' wide. Zones 5-9.

Chateau™ de Versailles
Rose of Sharon

The large, showy, blue-violet flowers will cover the stems from top to bottom, each featuring a deep red-violet center and a prominent stamen. Its height and scale, long bloom season, and attractive green foliage are ideal for providing high impact in borders and island beds. Partial to full sun. Up to 6' tall, 4' wide. Zones 5-9.

4. The Bird-Watching Dad

Whether he's truly an ornithologist, just gazing out the window as he washes dishes or something in between, get your bird-watching dad a shrub that will invite more feathered friends to the party. 

Sparkler® Arrowwood

A densely branched, upright, deciduous shrub with lustrous, dark green, ruffled foliage that turns bright yellow to red in fall. Creamy white, flat-topped umbels give way to large clusters of showy blue-black berries that will delight birds. A hardy and reliable hedge, screen, or border background, ideal for urban landscapes or native gardens. Partial to full sun. Up to 15' tall and wide. Zones 4-9.

White Symphony™

Full, leafy branches are adorned with light pink summer blooms that produce an abundance of white berries, becoming especially showy on the bare stems in winter. The perfect plant in front of evergreen shrubs to spice up northern native plant landscapes and wild garden woodlands. Berry-filled stems attract birds. Partial to full sun. Up to 4' tall and wide. Zones 3-7.

Berri-Magic® Kids
Holly Combination

A profusion of bright red berries fall through winter is assured because a male pollenizer is planted in the same container as the fruiting female. The x meserveae species is the hardiest of the hollies with glossy, blue-green leaves and purple stems. Ideal as a landscape accent, or planted in groups as a dense hedge or screen. Evergreen. Partial to full sun. 8' tall, 6' wide. Zones 5-9.

5. The Dorm Dweller  

College students love plants, too! Help them brighten up their first home-away-from-home with these beautiful, easy-care houseplants. Plus, did you know that plants can help students be more productive as they work? This study is just one of many that conclude that having plants in your workspace can increase productivity, workplace satisfaction, concentration, and air quality

Black Jade Hahnii
Snake Plant

Perfect for college students because it needs little light and little water. The compact size is great for desks, table tops, or small shelves. Happy with low to bright light; avoid direct sun. Can also grow in fluorescent lighting.  Bright Indirect Light. Up to 10" tall. Zones 9-11. Grow indoors in all Zones.


A gorgeous, unique houseplant for stylish students. Delightful crinkled and spotted foliage is deeply dark green on top and burgundy red on the underside. Soft pink flowers bloom in summer and fall outdoors, sporadically through the year indoors. Bright Indirect Light. Zones 10-11. Grow indoors in all Zones.


This pretty and popular houseplant is prized for its ease of care and versatility, with low water needs due to the fleshy, succulent leaves. The smaller size is a great option for shelves and tables in the shaded spot of a bright room. Bright Indirect Light. USDA Zones 10-11. Grow indoors in all Zones.

6. The Stressed-Out Friend Who Needs a Little Pampering 

Show your friend you care with a plant that encourages rest and relaxation. Aromatic plants are always a great choice to encourage deep breaths, and their beauty is an added luxury that will delight (and soothe) for many years to come.

Provence French

Choose a highly fragrant lavender variety for your friend to offer some natural aromatherapy. A wonderful addition to dry, sunny borders and gardens. Useful as a hedge or edging in herb gardens. Flowers may be dried and crushed to use in sachets. Full sun. Up to 2' tall and wide. Zones 5-9.

Madison Star

Another incredibly fragrant idea to encourage your friend to stop and enjoy the flowers. More cold-tolerant form of the popular climbing or spreading star jasmine. Lustrous green leaves are highlighted by clusters of white flowers. Beautiful evergreen for trellis, arbor, or fence if given support. Full shade to partial sun. Up to 12' tall, with support. Zones 7-10.

Keiko™ (Adored)
Itoh Peony

Large, semi-double to double, lightly fragrant peony flowers are the ticket to offering a feeling of luxury via flowers. Dark lavender-pink petals mature and fade to soft pink, revealing a cluster of yellow stamens in the center. Prefers full sun to dappled shade. Hybridized by Don Smith, a leading Itoh Peony breeder. Partial to full sun. Zones 4-8.

7. The Discerning Foodie 

Not sure what to get your friend with a truly sophisticated palate? Here are three options that will surprise and delight anyone with a taste for the best.


Your foodie friend will be thrilled to hear that this refined, eye-catching evergreen shrub has leaves that may be used to add a spicy, peppery flavor to foods. The oval-shaped, deep green leaves are held along beautiful red young stems. Creamy yellow-green perfumed blossoms enhance the distinctive foliage. This male selection will not fruit. Partial shade to full sun. Up to 12' tall, 8' wide. Zones 7-10.

Haas Improved Manzanillo
Fruiting Olive

What cook worth their salt wouldn't love the prospect of fresh, delicious olives that are fantastic stuffed, salted green, black, or for oil? Distinguished by its large spherical olives with smaller pits, yielding more flesh than the popular Manzanillo. Evergreen foliage is more finely textured, with dense, arching branches on a more compact, rounded form. Full sun. Up to 20' tall, 15' wide. Zones 8-10.

Little Ragu®
Sweet Bay

A more compact sweet bay with highly aromatic, deep green foliage that emerges on unique red-tinged stems. The dried leaves add a classic Mediterranean flavor to soups and sauces. Easy-care upright shrub or small tree. Handsome in natural form, or easily clipped into a formal hedge or topiary shape. Thrives in containers. Partial to full sun. Up to 8' tall and wide in the landscape. Zones 8-11

8. The New Homeowner with a Blank Slate

If you have a friend who needs a little help sprucing up their space, choose these plants to instantly elevate their indoor or outdoor style.


Brighten up a blank slate with this uncommon indoor plant that's starting to get its turn in the spotlight, thanks to the huge, eye-catching, heart-shaped leaves. Grows into an upright tree. Happiest in bright, indirect light and a humid environment. Bright Indirect Light. Up to 4' tall and wide indoors. Zones 10-11. Grow indoors in all Zones.

Emerald Colonnade®
Holly Topiary

Help your friend brighten up their entryway with a living work of art. This handsome and versatile male evergreen holly is a superb topiary specimen. The dense, glossy, bright green foliage looks fantastic year-round. Small cream-colored flowers do not produce berries. Full sun.Up to 12' tall, 8' wide in natural form. USDA Zones 7-9.

Tectonic™ Shangri-La™

An extraordinary specimen for containers, a large terrarium, or as a houseplant, this fantastically hardy woodland perennial was discovered in the mountains of China. Upright, fuzzy, dark red stems support handsome, dark olive-green foliage with brick red undersides. Full to partial shade. Up to 18" tall and wide. Zones 8-11. Grow indoors in all zones.

Previous Post  Next Post 
2023-10-23 17:15:00