Mother's Day: Think Outside the Blooms

Don't settle for a pre-potted plant. Create your own special container arrangement for mom.

Purple Flowers Planted in Boots

Purple Flowers Planted in Boots

Don't settle for a store bought arrangement. Customize a unique vessel in keeping with mom's garden style with her favorite blooms.

Photo by: Imfoto /

Imfoto /

Don't settle for a store bought arrangement. Customize a unique vessel in keeping with mom's garden style with her favorite blooms.

The garden stores are full of plants to give for Mother’s Day—the kind I think of as “buy-me-and-take-me-home” plants. 

You know the ones. They’re blue hydrangeas in matching blue pots. Or hanging baskets spilling over with red geraniums. Or plum-colored petunias. Usually gift plants are wrapped in shiny foil or tucked into a straw basket tied with ribbon.

And they’re gorgeous; I’m not denying it. But when it comes to giving a gift to someone special, I don’t want something straight off the shelf. I want the plant to be special, too. While it can be tough to find a one-of-a-kind plant, it’s easy to add a few touches to personalize it.

This year, try going rogue. Pass up the pre-planted containers and the cut bouquets in the supermarket cases or florist shops. Instead, pot up a flower or shrub, a small conifer, dwarf citrus, or a few succulents in a beautiful container. Add an unexpected ornament or two, and your mom will know that you went to the extra trouble because you love her extra-much.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Tovah Martin, in her new book, The Unexpected Houseplant: 220 Extraordinary choices For Every Spot In Your Home, recommends potting a stately calla lily in an urn for mom’s foyer or dining room. Underplant it with creeping fig or a small-leaved ivy with similar light and water requirements. Callas come in many colors, so look for them in mango orange, white, yellow, pink, red or even black.

A calamondin orange or other dwarf citrus is another wonderful plant Martin suggests for Mother’s Day. Citrus have attractive green leaves and will perfume a room with their sweetly scented flowers. If your mother can keep her plant in a sunny spot in the winter, and let it summer outdoors, she’ll probably have fruit, too. (I’ve made orange marmalade from my dwarf citrus fruit, and I have a dwarf Meyer lemon that produces enough for a few batches of fresh lemonade every year.)

Pot up an ivy in an antique pot or attractive dish (add pebbles to the bottom for drainage, or carefully—very carefully-- drill a few holes.)  Bend a length of thin wire into an arch or heart shape, and poke the ends of the wire into the soil beside the plant. As the ivy grows, train it onto the wire by wrapping it around it. Add a miniature garden fairy, watering can, or a mossy rock. You could also use a permanent marker with a narrow tip to write, “love” or another meaningful word on a flat stone.

Plant succulents in a hypertufa trough. These lightweight containers are made to resemble the stone troughs popular in English gardens from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Heat-loving, drought tolerant succulents are easy to care and look great in these.

Make a terrarium from a glass dome turned upside down on a plate. (Thrift stores are a great place to find cake or cheese domes, although you may have to look around for the size and shape you prefer. You can also find lots of inexpensive plates, and chips and crazes won’t matter, if  you’re going for a vintage look.) Plant a lemon button fern, maidenhair fern, or other small fern in a shallow pot and put it on the plate. Add a tiny bird’s nest from the craft store, or a couple of pretend monarch butterflies for color. Tuck in some sphagnum moss to hide the edges of the pot. Mist lightly, cover the plate with the dome, and tell Mom to open it from time to time to let excess moisture escape. Remind her not to place the terrarium in the sun.

Need more ideas? Wander through the aisles of your favorite garden center or nursery, and take a look at blooming plants like azaleas, topiary hydrangeas, gardenias, and other flowering shrubs. Many of these will also grow nicely in containers that Mom can keep on a patio or porch.

You’ll find the perfect gift when you use a little imagination and remember to think outside the pot.

Next Up

Punny Stamped Terra Cotta Pots for Mother's Day

Gift your mom an indoor garden complete with puns to show her how much you love her.

8 Unexpected Mother's Day Gifts Under $50

This year, treat the women in your life to something extra special.

Unique Ways to Celebrate Expectant Moms This Mother's Day

Make sure her very first Mother's Day is one to remember.

How to Celebrate Mom (Based on Her Astrological Sign)

She gave you a birthday, so you better know hers.

Create a Mother's Day Tea Garden

Put a twist on tea in the garden by planting up vintage teacups.

15 Handmade Mother's Day Gifts From Etsy

May brings flowers and a time to celebrate all the moms in our village. Shower them with these handmade and personalized gifts.

15 Best Mother's Day Gifts for Grandma

Shop our thoughtful finds to show Grandma just how much she means to you.

7 New Design and Garden Books to Give for Mother’s Day

Flowers are great, but how about a book about flowers instead?

24 Things on Sale That Make Wonderful Mother's Day Gifts

Mom loves a good deal, and so do we! Surprise her with any of these thoughtful gifts that just so happen to be on sale this week.

Very Herby Pots

Conventional wisdom holds that strawberry jars should contain strawberries, but master gardener Paul James has other ideas.

Go Shopping

Spruce up your outdoor space with products handpicked by HGTV editors.

What's New in Outdoors


House Hunters

6:30am | 5:30c

House Hunters

7:30am | 6:30c

Unsellable Houses

8:30am | 7:30c

Unsellable Houses

9:30am | 8:30c

Unsellable Houses

10:30am | 9:30c

Unsellable Houses

11:30am | 10:30c

Unsellable Houses

12:30pm | 11:30c

Flip or Flop

1pm | 12c

Flip or Flop

1:30pm | 12:30c

Flip or Flop

2:30pm | 1:30c

Flip or Flop

3:30pm | 2:30c

Flip or Flop

4:30pm | 3:30c

Flip or Flop

5:30pm | 4:30c

Flip or Flop

6:30pm | 5:30c

Flip or Flop

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Flip or Flop

8pm | 7c

Flip or Flop

8:30pm | 7:30c

House Hunters

10pm | 9c

House Hunters

10:31pm | 9:31c
11pm | 10c
11:31pm | 10:31c

House Hunters

1am | 12c

House Hunters

1:31am | 12:31c
2am | 1c
2:31am | 1:31c

Flip or Flop

3:30am | 2:30c

Flip or Flop

4:30am | 3:30c

Flip or Flop

5:30am | 4:30c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.