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10 favourite plants! So difficult to select just a few, but we can reveal which plants have been the most popular during the past year or so. Giving a gift that grows is a great way to keep a friendship fresh!. Even if the recipient doesn't share your love of growing, there's a good chance that they can be converted for their own good, of course. Here's our round-up of the most popular and most-wanted plants for the home and for the garden too.
Best for the garden
Annual plants suitable for pots, containers and hanging baskets. Particular favourites have been, as always, pansies, violas, busy lizzies and lobelia. These seem to have never gone out of fashion as there's nothing that rivals a splash of colour from reliable annuals.
Perennial Salvias. It's not surprising that so many people love Salvias because there are so many different types. Top of the favourites list is Salvia nemerosa Caradonna. Why? Because the purple flowering spikes just keep appearing throughout the season, creating a drift of mauve. It also has slightly aromatic foliage which is pleasing too.
Perennial Verbenas. One of the best loved is the tall V. bonariensis, with its electrifying purple flowers. This is a see-through plant that can be planted anywhere in the border without obstructing the view.
Hardy geranium, particularly G. Rozanne. Some hardy geraniums are thugs that multiply faster than you can keep up, but others are worth their weight in gold. They flower for months, block out the weeds and look amazing.Hardy geranium 'Summer skies' (pictured below) is also a pretty perennial plant that won't spread too far and flowers for much of the summer.
Heuchera: Who would think that we would be so in love with foliage? It's not surprising when you see the enormous varieties of colours available, from lime green and golden yellow through to deepest burgundy and purple. Ground cover perfection with great contrasting potential.
Home-grown herbs. The grow your own movement is stronger than ever and everyone can find space for herbs. Flying off the shelves recently are Oregano, mint and rosemary. They are hardy, delicious and they look great too.
Exotic and more tender plants such as bananas (Musa), palms, tree ferns and olives. More people than ever before seem to love experimenting with exotic plants. We're more than happy to give the extra bit of TLC that these plants might need. Perhaps it's a case of having plants that the neighbours don't have. Banana palms such as the Musa basjoo pictured below, are relatively hardy but need a bit of winter protection as their leaves can get damaged by wind and severe weather.
Gargoyle ornaments for the garden - yes, really! It seems we can't get enough of grotesque-looking creatures that are said to ward off evil spirits from our outside spaces. The Grumpy Gargoyle pictured below is one of the top selling gargoyle products.
Outdoor lighting, particularly solar fairy lights and lanterns. They are surprisingly effective and an easy way to make a garden or balcony come alive after dark. Some designs light up at night automatically and you therefore don't even have to remember to switch them on.
Next, we all seem to love the colour of copper and golden brown. Particularly the rusty Corten weathering steel; golden ornamental grasses such as Calamagrostis Karl Foerster and weathered bronze statues.
Best for the home
House plants have, without question, been the desirable must have feature of interiors this year. We now know that they are immensely good for us, and they look great too. Heres our pick of 10 favourite plants that are top of the pots for 2018:
Monstera deliciosa, the infamous cheese plant. So easy to care for, it has leaves that change with age. The distinctive holes and splits appear after the infancy stage. This can become a glossy giant and it has huge impact. We are smitten.
Ficus lyrata, the fiddle leaf fig. It's not the easiest to care for, but perhaps that's the appeal. It's definitely one of the 10 favourite plants. When this architectural masterpiece is happy, it rewards its keeper with an elegant form like no other. It is adorned with large and leathery, violin-shaped leaves and tends to become more like a tree as it matures.
Ceropegia woodii, the chain of hearts. Where to start with the charms of this hanging, trailing house plant? It's demure and undemanding. The foliage is as pretty as can be. Little heart shapes, all joined together on a string. Pop it into a beautiful pot, place it on a shelf and watch the chain of hearts gently descend into your life. You'll love it.
Pilea peperomioides, often called the Chinese money plant and it also goes under the name of a pancake or missionary plant. It's a pet-friendly plant for a window sill or shelf. The round, jaunty little leaves just make you want to smile. No wonder we all want one of these, it's a bit of a cult fascination thing.
Epiphyllum anguliger, fishbone cactus. It's a funky, modern succulent rather than cactus and definitely has no spikey surprises. Instead, it's a superb plant for a shelf as the foliage tends to droop. This looks rather like a bad hair day plant and it has immense charm. The foliage looks a bit like a zip, with zig-zag margins. Cool!
Lucky bamboo. The love for luck seems never to run out! This plant is highly popular, largely because of Feng Shui. This is probably the most popular gift plant that isn't seasonal it's an all-year-round good luck boost that people love to receive (apparently). The number of stalks is said to matter. It's all about promoting a good flow of energy and who couldn't want that?
Chlorophytum, the spider plant. Yes, you'll probably remember it from the 1970s, but there's a good reason why this is still top of the pots. It's so easy to look after and it's a brilliant air-cleaning plant and a great present for someone suffering from allergies. What's more, it's pet-friendly and looks great dangling down from a shelf.
Schlumbergera, the Christmas cactus. These are far better than the Christmas cacti that granny used to have. The flowers are amazing. They produce a great colourful splash, just when we need it the most. What a great gift, these succulents keep on giving.
Crassula ovata, the money tree, jade plant or friendship tree. This easy-to-care-for succulent is known as a money tree because the foliage leaflets are fleshy and round, some say they look like little coins. The story goes that if you stroke the leaves and think nice thoughts, the tree will bring wealth. Good to try, we think, and it looks great too.
Cacti, from mighty to miniscule. There is now a high demand for huge cactus plants because they are relatively unchanging and very much like a living piece of art. Eyecatching (and often clothes-catching too). Provide what they need (think high light and little water, much like a desert) and they will dominate the space in a really positive way. There are hundreds of varieties and some of them are mightily impressive!