The heart-leaf philodendron has leaves shaped in perfect heart form. (ALBERT PARSONS/FOR THE SUN)
An arrowhead vine has heart-shaped leaves, often in unusual colors. (ALBERT PARSONS/FOR THE SUN)
Peperomias, like this ‘Emerald Ripple’ in the foreground, sport heart-shaped leaves. (ALBERT PARSONS/FOR THE SUN)
The peperomia ‘Watermelon’ has leaves perfectly shaped for Valentine’s Day. (ALBERT PARSONS/FOR THE SUN)
It is the day before Valentine’s Day and you have today and tomorrow to get that special someone a Valentine’s Day gift. Cut flowers, perhaps roses, are always a good choice, followed closely by anything chocolate.
If your special someone, however, is a gardener who enjoys indoor gardening in the winter, impress by choosing a gift that is personalized and shows that a bit of thought went into obtaining it.
Many indoor plants have heart-shaped leaves, making them absolutely perfect Valentine’s Day gifts; this would be a good place to start if you are interested in pursuing this notion.
Probably the most common plant with heart-shaped leaves is the aptly named heartleaf philodendron, a trailing plant producing long trailing stems that sport six-centimetre-long leaves with a very definite heart shape.
The downside in choosing this plant is that it is a foliage plant and does not flower. As most of the plants I will suggest are mainly grown for their foliage, be sure to dress the plant up for the occasion.
Choose a colourful — perhaps red — jardinière and slip the potted plant you buy into it. Avoid any Valentine Day motif with the exception of the colour, so that the jardinière can be used any time of year — the red colour will remind the recipient where it came from.
Then go to a craft store or florist shop and purchase an appropriately sized bow and a Valentine’s Day pick to create a great Valentine’s Day look.
While the heartleaf philodendron is usually displayed trained on a decorative trellis or as a hanging plant, choose a smaller specimen that can be set on a high shelf or cupboard where its foliage can tumble attractively from the pot.
The peperomia plant family includes wonderful foliage plants with heart-shaped leaves and they are not large plants so they also lend themselves to being displayed on a small table or desk.
Peperomias are tropical plants with thick, fleshy leaves that seem almost succulent-like. They are not succulents, however, and like high humidity and warm temperatures.
They must not be overwatered; the soil must be allowed to dry out between waterings or rot may very well develop — if your special someone is a gardener, he/she won’t have any trouble looking after such a plant.
The small, three- to four-centimetre-long leaves of peperomia are heart-shaped and often have interesting texture and colour. A dark green one called ‘Emerald Ripple’ has heavily puckered, dark green leaves while a variety with the common name ‘Watermelon’ Peperomia has green leaves with silver stripes — the variegation does indeed resemble the colouration of watermelon skin.
Striking heart-shaped leaves also adorn the arrowhead plant. This plant is a trailing one, but larger than the heartleaf philodendron, having leaves that are often 10-15 centimetres long.
Like the heartleaf philodendron, an arrowhead plant can be displayed on a trellis or as a hanging plant but it will take up a lot more space.
Its leaves are very definitely heart-shaped and come in a range of colours, often with attractive veining or variegation; one variety has dark green leaves with burgundy undertones while another has gold and green marbled foliage.
Like the peperomia, arrowhead vine is a tropical plant that prefers warm temperatures and high humidity. Also like the peperomia, it prefers its soil to be allowed to dry out between waterings.
All of the plants that I have mentioned are happy in the relatively low light environments found in most homes. They also will be happy in bright light with no direct sun.
They are easy care plants and if you are giving one of them to your special gardener, the plants are common and are available in your local garden centre. Look around, you might find something you like better.
If you don’t like the fact that there are no flowers on any of these plants, you might choose an anthurium which has bright red, heart-shaped spathes that look like flowers and that are held above the heart-shaped leaves on sturdy stems. The shops are full of these plants around Valentine’s Day.
Now that you have chosen the perfect personalized Valentine’s Day gift for that special someone, what more could he/she ask? Well, a dinner reservation might be a good idea.
Albert Parsons is a consultant for garden design and landscaping who lives in Minnedosa.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 13, 2014