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Best houseplant for Mother's Day depends on the mom

Flowering houseplants make terrific Mother's Day gifts. Three — the anthurium, clivia, and "Mophead" hydrangea —are especially beautiful and easy. Unlike cut flowers, they will keep charming your mother for many weeks and, with the right care, bloom again year after year. But which one will be best for May 9?

It depends on your mother's personality. Here's why. Some houseplants thrive on attention, and need frequent watering. Others require a hands-off approach: too much water and they drown.

Anthurium

For those hovering mothers, I suggest an anthurium. These Hawaiian natives range from 10 inches to 2 feet high. Their leaves and flowers, held aloft on long stems, are both appropriately heart-shaped.

An anthurium hates to go dry, but it can survive an anxious caretaker all too ready with the watering can. Just remind Mom to empty any water in the pot's saucer. Give an anthurium bright light, but no direct sun, and Mom will be reminded of you past Father's Day.

Clivia

If your mother encouraged you to be independent, she will love clivias. These beauties are related to that Christmas favorite, the amaryllis. Clivias have strap-like leaves that shoot from a central base. Every spring, they send up a stalk topped by as many as a dozen long-lasting, bell-shaped flowers in bright orange or yellow.

Native to the dry plateaus of South Africa, clivias need little water and only an occasional dose of fertilizer, and thrive in low light. In winter, put them in a dim, cool basement, and ignore them. Retrieve them in the spring, water and feed them, and by Mother's Day, they will be in bloom again.

Hydrangea

What about the mother in the middle? It's a potted "Mophead" hydrangea for her.

Each Mophead stem ends in a dense, spherical bouquet of delicate flowers, which come in a range of colors from blue to white to pink, and even red.

The soil in the pot should always be kept moist. But if your mother forgets, her Mophead will remind her by going into a gentle wilt. All she has to do is add water, and your gift will perk up promptly.

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