Prune-and-pass plants make great gifts

There are not many more rewarding experiences in life than planting and propagating your own plants and watching them grow.

Giving someone special a gift is usually at the top of that list, too.

But, growing a gift is even more special.

The passion flower plant attracts the Gulf Frittilary butterfly. (Courtesy of UF/IFAS Communications)

Many plants can be easily grown and pieces passed along as gifts with some simple pruning and propagation techniques. The resurrection or rain lily is a great example. These Southern staples seemingly spring up out of nowhere in summer during the heavy rains.

Rain lilies grow from clusters of bulbs that can be easily dug up and divided, making them perfect for sharing. Divide them in summer and plant them in sunny spots with moist but well-drained soils. It may take them a year to bloom but when they do, they are spectacular when planted en masse or as singles. These are good butterfly attractants, too.

Four o’ clocks are perennial plants that grow well throughout Florida. Their trumpet-shaped flowers come in a variety of colors and invite hummingbirds. Four o’ clocks will bloom in late spring throughout summer in sunny locations. While they’ll grow easily from seed, they will grow from tubers that you can dig in fall and give away to friends.

Plant the tubers with roots down and deep enough so that the top of the tuber is about 1-inch deep and keep them moist but not wet. Choose planting spots wisely though as four o’ clocks can be somewhat aggressive in the landscape.

Passion flower plants with their wavy petals, and shades of purple and lavender are quite beautiful.

A must have for butterfly enthusiasts is the passion flower, which attracts the Gulf Frittilary.

Passion flower is great for dry conditions and will wind its way up and around a trellis or fence in sunny areas. The wavy petals, 3-inches to 5-inches wide— in shades of purple and lavender — are quite beautiful.

To share, simply use a sharp pair of pruners to clip off 4-inch to 6-inch-long cuttings below a node. Strip away the bottom row of leaves and plant into a moist potting soil. Keep the cuttings moist and in a shady spot. After about a month, new roots should be forming, which means they are ready for gifting.

One of the easiest plants for Florida gardening is also quite drought resistant and beautiful throughout the summer. The crinum (lily) thrives for many years with little to no care. You can plant them in moist and dry areas, and while they do prefer partly shady locations, they can withstand sunny spots.

Plan to divide these plants in the winter, when they aren’t actively growing. Dig around the clump, lift it up and remove any bulb offshoots. Replant those bulbs with the most slender portion of the bulb upright and just above ground.

Crinum care involves nothing more than removing old blooms. Just be prepared for new bulbs to take a year or more to flower.

If you have a friend with a shady spot, consider gifting them a Peacock ginger. Peacock ginger will produce pink or purple flowers in the summer, but their foliage is their most striking characteristic. Dark green, round to oval, medium to large leaves with lime green, purple or even white or silvery splotches make these groundcovers stand out. They do lose their leaves in winter, but they’ll return in spring.

Simply dig up and divide the rhizomes (underground stems) in winter and plant these about ½-inch below the soil surface in well-drained, shady areas. Keep them watered until established.

If you’re looking for an explosion of color, you’ll want to plant crocosmia. Flowers of red, orange or yellow will pop in May and June. These plants prefer sunny areas or part shade and will grow quickly, sometimes flopping over into huge “sprays” of color. You might consider adding support or using a trellis for these. Pass these to friends by lifting the clump and dividing in spring. These make great additions to most any landscape and are usually drought tolerant after established.

Most any plant can be propagated and passed along to friends and family.

Passion flower is great for dry conditions and will wind its way up and around a trellis or fence in sunny areas.

Many easily propagated plants tend to be invasive, which is what makes them so easy to grow in the first place.

Invasive plants are not something we want to share, especially with those we love.

To be sure what you want to prune and pass isn’t invasive, refer to the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants directory where you can easily determine whether your intended gift is invasive or not, at

There is a vast array of methods for propagating plants – some just take more ingenuity and expertise than others.

Passing along plants is a great way to tell someone special you’re thinking of them since there’s a bit of thought and elbow grease that goes into the process.

You’ll have a special connection to the recipient since you’ll share the same experience of watching the same plant grow and thrive.

For more advanced propagation methods, refer to the UF/IFAS Fact Sheet at

Just remember the first principle of Florida-Friendly Landscaping; always plant the right plant in the right place.

By Whitney C. Elmore

Dr. Whitney C. Elmore is the UF/IFAS Pasco County Extension director and an Urban Horticulture Agent III.

Published May 15, 2019

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