Gifts that grow (even without a green thumb)

For the gardeners—and wannabe gardeners—in your life

Giving somebody a plant is special; you’re essentially telling them that you think they’re responsible enough to support another living thing. Not only that, plants have been proven to boost your mood and filter your air.

Some people give things, but you give experiences. Like the experience of growing a little bean sprout.

Your future Christmas tree PlantsFromSeed Etsy Shop

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Out-do even that pretentious guy in your office who cuts down his own 15-foot tree every year by growing your own from seeds. Sure, it won’t pay off for several years (or just one, if you like short trees), but play the long game. You could even plant one every year to ensure an endless supply of cheap and beautiful Noble Firs, right in your backyard. And just think—it’ll be the shortest trip to get a tree ever.

$11.70 on Etsy

A giant tree SmartSeeds Etsy Shop

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Want something bigger? Enter: the Dawn Redwood. It grows well in most parts of the U.S. and will get up to 100 feet tall and 20 feet wide. OK, yes, maybe it’s not the best gift for most people, but if you know anybody with a desire for a personal grove of giant trees among which to perform ritualistic dances, this is a must-have. Alternatively: your giftee can keep it inside as a tastefully contained bonsai.

$2.99 on Etsy

A Groot Amazon

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Okay, so you don’t * technically * grow the Groot—you grow the vines that grow on the Groot. The sprouts grow quickly for (near) immediate payoff and you can train the bean sprout to twirl around him. Plus, his hands glow in the dark for that magical feel. Just remember to trim the grass, lest your Groot become overwhelmed by surrounding foliage.

$24.99 on Amazon

Shiitake mushrooms on a log Amazon

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Shiitake mushrooms are expensive. Grow your own instead. This log comes pre-filled with mushroom spores so all you have to do is follow the simple instructions and reap the rewards a few weeks later. They’re way more interesting than growing a hydroponic tomato and are sold by a company by the name 2funguys. Come on.

$34 on Amazon

A crocodile Amazon

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No one is too old to take pleasure in those little toys that grow after being submerged in water. (Pro tip: if you grow them in distilled water, they absorb up to 10 times as much fluid.)

$7.50 on Amazon

Your own alcoholic ginger beer SandyLeafFarm Etsy Shop

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This kit makes 2 liters of alcoholic ginger beer using the provided yeast to convert the sugars inside the ginger to produce ethanol. And it has a sterilizing powder, so the yeast is the only thing that grows like crazy. Bonus: you can guilt your friend into sharing their results with you.

$6.50 on Etsy

This adorable air plant FunUsualSuspects Etsy Shop

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On top of being the cutest planter you’ve ever seen, this little guy is super easy to grow. Air plants require no soil, and very little water, especially in winter. That means this baby plant will continue to grow with hardly any care. Just follow the directions to keep it relatively moist. Every planter is handmade for that bespoke feeling, so you know this gift is (technically) one of a kind.

$15 on Etsy

Weird versions of vegetables Amazon

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This kit helps inexperienced gardeners grow their own purple carrots and striped tomatoes. There are five types of seed in every kit.

$17.99 on Amazon

Tiny trees to tend for the rest of your life Amazon

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Sure, you could buy a bonsai tree that’s already grown, but where’s the fun in that? Give the gift of future responsibility by starting from seeds. There are three types in here, each with their own pots and peat blocks, plus instructions to seed them. The gift-ee will have years to research how you actually grow and train a bonsai to look like a tiny tree, so don’t worry about any of that now. Just tell them to focus on all the conversations they’ll get to have with friends—“Why yes, I *did * grow that myself!” Plus, it’ll outlive you all.

$18.99 on Amazon

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Sara Chodosh
Sara Chodosh

is an associate editor at PopSci where she writes about everything from vaccine hesitancy to extreme animal sex. She got her master's degree in science journalism at NYU's Science Health and Environmental Reporting Program, and is getting a second master's in data visualization from the University of Girona. Contact the author here.