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Give a living gift for Mother’s Day

A hanging basket of red calibachoa is the perfect specimen for a season’s worth of color. John Zvirovski The Sun

Mother’s Day came quickly once again, but it always happens during the time of year where plenty of gifts are available. Springtime is full of wonderful plant ideas for mom on her special day and why not celebrate the holiday with a living plant for her to enjoy throughout the season.

Taking a quick trip to the local floral shops and nurseries will give you many different ideas in which to choose that perfect gift. Fresh cut flowers are nice, but they only last for a short time, where living plants will give color in the garden until frost. If you select one of the many blooming houseplant options, one will have a specimen that can last for years. These would include items such as the bougainvillea, hibiscus, oleander, camellia, gardenias and bromeliads. Give them a sunny location and moderate moisture and they will have all their needs met within the home.

When walking into a greenhouse or nursery, one will be met with many plant ideas. Two of the best ones are any of the numerous hanging baskets or the beautiful container gardens displaying an entire mix of plantings.

Hanging baskets have many plant types that create a wonderful display due to the size of the annuals used. Calibrachoa and wave petunias are some of the most common for those full-sun conditions. They produce numerous flowers that last well into the fall, and they are killed only by a hard frost.

For shady locations, baskets of impatiens, tuberous and rieger begonias, hanging fuschia and pansies work very well for giving those darker areas a brighter look. These will also bloom until frost for months of continuous color.

Hanging baskets are perfect for the patios, in trees, hanging from eaves or on shepherd’s hooks in the garden. Some of the larger ones can have a mix of different plant materials along with various vines that cascade down from the mounds of colors. If someone lives in an apartment, they look great hanging on the deck.

Container gardens are very versatile also as they can be placed within the garden, on decks, patios and porches and can either have plant materials that grow in the vertical form or with a cascading effect. Many times in large containers, a combination of both will create the perfect display.

Containers not only work well on the ground level, but they also look nice clustered together or on steps or columns to add an element of height. Keep in mind, when placing them on columns, make sure there is enough weight in the container to keep them from blowing over in the strong winds.

If you want to add a personal touch with just the right plants for mom, try creating your own arrangement. For hanging baskets, make sure the container is large enough to fit the plant types you are seeking and use a water-retentive soil so they do not have to be watered every day. A mix of upright and cascading types usually create a balanced appearance with grace and elegance.

Container gardens are a little easier to work with as their size is up to the user. Smaller containers work for more limited spaces and very large ones are available for central focal points. Urns and artistic-style containers can make the appearance more stunning depending on how it is used within the landscape.

Plants that can be used for a vertical scale are fountain grasses, sedges, spikes and cannas. For foliage color and bloom, try coleus, rex begonias, petunias, salvia and lobelia. To add that cascading effect, try wave petunias, verbenas, vinca vines, bacopa, purple, yellow or copper sweet potato vines and silver falls dichondra.

Many times there seems to be an endless array of plant materials to make the perfect container. Just when you think you have the perfect combination, you find something else that is appealing. One rule of thumb for making containers or baskets to look their best is to not overcrowd them with too many items. Keep them to counts of three, five or seven depending on the size of the containers for the right balance.

Mother’s Day is a day to honor that special person who raised and nurtured you from a very early age. She is the one who taught you many lessons along the way while she allowed you to enjoy new experiences in life. Not always an easy task, it is this day that you can do something special for her to show her you appreciate all she has done. Giving a living gift always has lasting effects, so choose something special this year and watch her eyes light up.

For all mothers on this special day, happy Mother’s Day and know you are very much appreciated!