A LIVING giftis a great alternativeto the typical chocolatesand fruitcakes.Nurseriesaround the countryare stocked with awide selection ofstunning tropicalornamental plantsto choose from duringthe holidays.A beautiful livingplant as a giftcan live on for yearsas a reminder of your affection or friendship.It’s also a gift with a positive statementfor nature amidst the commercialism thatoften invades this time of year. Followingare just a few suggestions you might finduseful.Bromeliads or Bromelias: There are twotypes of bromeliads – epiphytes, which livealoft in the trees of the rain forest, and terrestrials,which have well-developed rootsystems. A pineapple is a good example ofa terrestrial bromeliad.Although the epiphytes have theircharm, the terrestrial types are famous fortheir spectacular flowers, which come instriking colors of pink, red, yellow andwhite.Terrestrial bromeliads also do well ashouseplants, because they grow well in lowlight conditions. They do, however, need tobe watered regularly with monthly applicationsof liquid fertilizer.ORCHIDS or Orquidias: Many orchidsbegin to bloom at this time of the year, andnurseries now offer a good selection. Thesecret to giving an orchid as a gift is to pickout the perfect blooming orchid very closeto the day you plan to give it. This willensure that the bloom will last the maximumlength of time.Many orchid blooms last weeks beforethey fade. After the bloom, most orchidsare cared for in an area outside the house inpartial shade. If cared for well, your giftwill bloom at the same time each year.Poinsettias or Pastoras: This is the traditionalChristmas plant, which is popularall around the world. Actually, most peoplethink the colorful leaves are the flowers,but if you look real closely, you’ll seelittle yellow flowers amidst the eye-catchingleaves.Poinsettias are easy to plant outside thehome once their colors have faded andthey’ll grow into perennial bushes, whichbloom every year around Christmas.Mums or Pomas: Known as Pomas inSpanish, chrysanthemums are availablemost of the year and come in an almost infinitespectrum of colors. These annualplants bloom for months and are easy tocare as a houseplant.Displayed in a sunny area inside ortransplanted outside on the patio, they providea cheery ambiance for the home. Thedried flowers can be saved and the seedsreplanted in the following season.LIVING Christmas Trees: This yearyou may want to join the growing numberof families that no longer buy cut Christmastrees. Not only are the cut trees a fire hazardfor the home, they represent an old customthat has outlived its practicality.No doubt, a century ago folks needed afresh-cut tree in the cabin to revive theirspirits during the dismal winter months.But today, this custom represents a tremendousdrain on our environmentalresources.Even in tropical nurseries, you’ll find aselection of conifers in potted containersthat are ideal for decorating during the holidayseason. And when the New Yeararrives and the holiday decorations arestored away, you can transplant your treeinto the home landscape or simply enjoy itas a potted ornamental on the patio.If you are weary of wandering throughthe malls in search of Christmas gifts, youmight try a visit to your local nursery.Amidst the peacefulness of the plants withtheir joyous colors, you may just find a specialliving gift for Christmas.For books and seeds for tropical gardening,be sure to see our Web site atwww.thenewdawncenter.org. Or send yourgardening questions to email@example.com.