Flowers are a great way to say you care. And flowers even have a direct effect on wellbeing. The sight and scent of flowers activate memories associated with them that can bring back experiences of health and happiness in ways that a simple verbal greeting cannot.
In this article I will describe 30 of the prettiest get well flowers I use when I want to cheer up family and friends. I will describe flowers you can grow in your own garden. I will tell you about some beautiful get well flowers you can collect in nature. And I will include some flowers you can buy at the garden center or florist shop that will give your friend or loved one a get well soon message that lasts for weeks or even months.
Table of Contents
- Christmas Holly
- Gerbera Daisy
- Grape Hyacinth (also known as Bluebell or Muscari in the United States and Bluebonnet in other parts of the English-speaking world).
- Jonquiln (also known as Rush Daffodil)
- Lantana (Spanish Flag)
- Sea Buckthorn
- Tuberous Begonia
- Zombie Plant, also known as Sensitive Mimosa
Do you want to cheer up someone who loves poinsettias? Or do you want to make a gift of an easy-to-grow, inexpensive but beautiful summer plant? Amaranthus is a great choice.
The amaranthus maintains its appearance from the middle of summer until frost. Its blossom is small and white, but the upper third of the plant is covered in attractive red and yellow foliage. And for your friends who have a little trouble seeing things, it’s hard to miss amaranthus. It can reach a height of 8 feet (200 cm). Plant amaranthus in loamy soil in a sunny location in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 11.
Amaryllis belladonna L.
This amaryllis has a lot going for it. It has a delightfully fragrant scent. It comes in pink, white, or purple. And if you live in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 8, it can practically take care of itself all summer long until it blooms at the beginning of fall if you just give it about an inch (25 mm) of mulch. Water your amaryllis as long as the foliage is green but withhold water once the foliage has died. Then dig up bulbs for overwintering indoors and planting outside about the time of last frost next spring.
All over the Southeastern United States, except in a few locations where there are alkaline, clay soils, gardeners grow azaleas. These tough perennial shrubs thrive on strongly acidic soils, with a pH of 6 or lower, and require protection from heat and drought. They don’t need a lot of sun and make a great understory plant. They can do well under deciduous trees.
When I give azaleas for a convalescent gift, I usually buy a plant raised by a nursery that I put in a nicer pot. I have grown azaleas in heavy clay, alkaline soil, but I had to get a front-end loader to excavate a 3-foot (1 meter) trench to fill with suitable soil.
Lupinus texensis. There are other similar, larger lupine species.
Tens of millions of Texans have a strong emotional attachment to bluebonnets. When I have given them as a get well gift, I either made an arrangement of cut bluebonnets I liberated from the side of the road, or, a few times, I gave a pot of bluebonnets I had been growing all winter for just such an occasion.
You can buy bluebonnet plants in nurseries in the Lone Star State when the weather cools down in the “fall,” usually in December. Or you can start them from acid-washed or scarified seed (seed that has been mechanically scared) so it will germinate more quickly. Any soil will do. Just be sure they get plenty of water the first few weeks after the seed germinates or you put out the plants you get at the nursery.
Blooming cacti are rare, beautiful, and expensive. They are not a gift everyone gets when they are sick or in the hospital. But if your friend or family is a cactus fan, the gift of a cactus growing in a pot is likely to be greatly appreciated, especially if it is in bloom.
The most common mistake novices make in cactus care is overwatering. The second most common mistake made in cactus care is not watering at all. Water requirements vary from species to species. Have a conversation about water and fertilizer needs with the people at the nursery or cactus specialty shop where you buy the plant.
A Christmas wreath you grew yourself is a great convalescent gift for people who celebrate Christmas. This species of Ilex prefers well-drained soil and full sun. (Winter holly, described below, has different requirements.) Don’t worry if you don’t have ideal growing conditions. You will still get foliage. You just won’t get as many berries.
Crocus sativus L.
Crocus is just about the first plant to bloom in spring. It’s a great pick me up surprise gift for a gardener who may not have had time to think about getting out. It’s hard to go wrong with this plant. They grow in almost any soil and any level of light, especially if you are willing to plant them in the fall for early spring bloom using new bulbs every year. They are also rabbit-and deer- but not armadillo-resistant. If you really want to impress your friend, give autumn-blooming crocus the crocus that produces saffron. But be aware it takes 3,000 flowers to make an ounce of the spice
Narcissus poeticus. L.
For many gardeners, daffodils are synonymous with spring. (Actually, for me, giving away my age, they are synonymous with Bullwinkle the Moose, but that’s only due to an ongoing gag in the 1960’s cartoon series.)
Daffodils do best in moist, rich soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7, but they will grow for at least one season in almost any well-drained soil if they get enough water. You can also force daffodils for indoor bloom. Be sure to plant the bulbs at the right depth. Plant daffodil bulbs at a depth twice the height of the bulb in a pot for forcing or outdoors if the ground does not freeze where you live. Plant them at a depth of 4 to 5 times the height of the bulb if you plant them in a place where the ground freezes solid in winter.
Dahlias are the ruffled relatives of sunflowers and zinnias. There are dozens of varieties of dahlias that can have blooms the size of dinner plates and stems of 1 to 5 feet (25 to 125 cm) tall. All dahlias require full sun. They are set back by sensitive to cold and killed by frost. Grow in the summer in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 10.
Dogwoods are famous for their flowers. Many people give dogwood flowers a religious interpretation. They also bear beautiful berries. A few branches of blooming dogwood in the spring or dogwood with berries in the fall make a great get well gift.
There is a dogwood that grows in almost any soil or climate where other deciduous trees grow, but they do best under other deciduous trees.
My late mom went gaga over gerbera daisies. When she was in the hospital with cancer, I dispatched a younger member of my family with my credit card and told them to get my mother a nice display sent to the hospital. It was a beautiful, gigantic (6-foot) pot of gerbera daisies, but I nearly needed a room in the cardiovascular ward when I saw the $1700 price tag.
You don’t have to spend $1700 to cheer up friend with gerbera daisies. They are available already-blooming in pots for patio display in garden centers at reasonable prices (don’t send your teenager with your credit card), or you can grow them as an annual plant. They are a little fussy: They need bright but indirect light, and it’s important not to get the crown of the plant (where the stems emerge) too damp.
Never let Gerbera daisies stand in water. Water them in the morning so their leaves have a chance to dry off during the day.
Gladiolus communis L.
Gladioli, also known as glads, a common fixture in sunny, well-watered gardens that are protected from wind. They come in at least 40 colors and shades, and they have nice fragrance. They bloom all summer long and they keep for about a week as cut flowers. But they are easily damaged by wind, they are fussy about getting enough sun, and they need slightly acidic soil.
Grape Hyacinth (also known as Bluebell or Muscari in the United States and Bluebonnet in other parts of the English-speaking world).
Grape hyacinth is a beautiful spring plant with a confusing name. Unlike the American Bluebonnet (lupine) or the bluebell, which are grown from seed, the grape hyacinth is grown from bulbs. When grape hyacinths are planted for the outdoor display, the bulbs are put in the ground in the fall in warmer climates (USDA Hardiness Zones 7 and higher) or early spring in colder climates (USDA Hardiness Zones 6 and lower). Grape hyacinths’ can also be forced indoors for winter bloom.
Many people associate hibiscus with Hawaii. A gift of a potted hibiscus or an arrangement of big, bright hibiscus blossoms can take the mind away from troubles to memories of a happier time.
If you don’t live in the tropics, it is best to grow hibiscus plants as annuals. They need rich soil, lots of water but good drainage, and indirect sunlight. Outdoors, they can reach a height of 15 feet (5 meters), but in pots they maintain a shorter habit that is much more suitable for gift giving.
I grew up near a little town that was mostly Czech-speaking (which wasn’t unusual in Texas at the time) For some reason, we had lots of guys named Ladislav and lots of women named Hyacinth. It turns out that there are many places in the world where hyacinths are so popular that women as named after them. The hyacinth is an icon of spring, renewal, and rebirth in both Western and non-Western cultures.
You won’t have any trouble growing hyacinths as annual plants if you just don’t plant them too deep or plant them in waterlogged soil. Plant them about 2 inches (5 cm) deep for forcing indoors or spring planting in places where the ground doesn’t freeze during the winter. Plant them at least 4 inches (10 cm) deep if you are putting them out in the fall for spring bloom. Bear in mind that all parts of the hyacinth plant are poisonous and especially dangerous for children and small plants.
Iris germanica L. and about 300 other species
Irises make a nice cut flower, which isn’t surprising because they bloom for weeks on end outdoors. The natural home for irises is on the edges around marshes and bogs, where they aren’t shaded by trees or surrounded by vines. Irises need sunlight on their corms (the bumpy root-like parts) to grow well. Gritty or gravelly soil woks best. Irises need water, but they aren’t fussy about fertilizer. There are species of iris that work in every USDA hardiness zone from 2 to 11.
Jonquiln (also known as Rush Daffodil)
Here is a brilliant yellow relative of daffodils with a marvelous scent. You can take care of them in the same as you take care of daffodils (please see above), including indoor forcing.
Junipers are an interesting addition to floral arrangements. (I wouldn’t give someone a bouquet of just juniper.) They are easy to grow on any kind of soil in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 10, in climates ranging from arid to rainy.
Lantana (Spanish Flag)
If gardeners are honest, they often both love and hate lantanas. These berry-bearing verbenas produce abundant bloom for months on end. And they need extraordinarily little attention. But they are also invasive and can easily become a weed.
Don’t share too much information about the downside of growing lantanas. Just trim them down and share the blossoms with your friend as a bouquet. You can grow lantana anywhere winter temperatures don’t get lower than about -10 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 degrees Celsius.
Peonies make a stunning bouquet. They are rated among the most attractive spring flowers growing in cool-summer and cold-winter locations. Start peonies from plants you buy at the nursery, and grow them in slightly moist, well-drained soil. You can tell the time to plant peonies by their condition at the nursery. Buy peony plants that look vigorous or wait ‘til next year.
Roses from your own garden are always a welcome gift.
I once owned a rose nursery. In the process of running my nursery, I learned a number of ways to kill roses. Here is what I learned not to do:
- Never plant roses in shade.
- Never skimp on compost and soil amendments.
- Never let rose leaves stay damp.
Of course, I knew that long before I bought the nursery. But lapses of these three rules cause trouble. And if you live in a location that gets cold winters (USDA hardiness zones 1 through 7), mulch your roses for winter protection.
I have relatives in Saskatchewan who love gardening. I once asked them what they gave for winter flowers before there were greenhouses. They answered with sea buckthorn.
Sea buckthorn is a very, very cold-hardy plant. If you need to deal with temperatures of -50 in the winter, this is your garden plant. It’s hard not to keep sea buckthorn happy.
Snapdragons are a good choice for cool-weather color. Buy them in pots to share with friends.
I have friends who run a Persian food restaurant. They keep shakers of sumac on the table. This versatile plant is both tasty and beautiful. Cuttings of sumac, especially in the fall, make a nice addition to floral arrangements. If you like Middle Eastern food, you are already familiar with sumac. Sumac does well on any kind of well-drained soil, but it needs full sun to develop its colorful berries and brilliant fall foliage.
Begonia x tubeohybrida
Tuberous begonias are a very easy plant to grow in summer shade. They stay in bloom all summer long in the shadiest spots of your garden where no other flowers will be as happy. Their blooms of red, orange, white, pink, salmon, or yellow may be single or double, ruffled, toothed, or plain. red, white, orange, yellow, pink, and salmon blooms may be single or double and may be ruffled, toothed or plain. But in exchange for their shade tolerance, they need frequent feeding and steady water supply.
Tulipa species, there are about 80 species of tulips
You can’t go wrong with tulips as a get well flower in the spring. Like daffodils, tulips are widely regarded as essential to the spring landscape. It just isn’t spring without tulips. Force them indoors in any potting mix or grow them outside in protected areas in slightly acidic, granular soil that drains well. Don’t forget to protect tall tulips from gusty winds.
Winterberry is the “other holly” for winter floral displays. The requirements of this holly are the opposite of those of the closely related Christmas holly. Winterberry loses its leaves in the winter, and it needs to be grown in the shade, not in full sun. Speak with your nursery owner about the varieties you need to be sure to get berries. Winterberry plants are either male or female, not both.
I grow zinnias in pots for the patio or for sharing with friends. If you have rich garden soil, hot direct sun, and weekly watering, you will get great blooms.
Zombie Plant, also known as Sensitive Mimosa
Here is a great flower for convalescing children. Its rows of green leaves and purple balls of petals aren’t very impressive, until you touch it. Then it folds its leaves and won’t open them again until it thinks you have left (or at least that is how I explain it to kids). Zombie plants in natural settings grow on hard, dry, alkaline clay soils, but you will be getting your specimen at the nursery in a pot. Don’t allow the soil in the pot to dry out completely and give the plant at least six hours of sun a day.