Chain of hearts (seropegia woodii) is a trailing succulent with small intricately patterned leaves.
Chain of hearts (seropegia woodii) is a trailing succulent with small intricately patterned leaves. iStock

Leave it to plants to show Mum the shape of your love

Mother's Day is a celebration honouring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. Thanks to Wikipedia for this clear, if somewhat clinical, definition.

And while I don't have much time for commercialisation of such an important role as mothering, I'm not averse to giving gifts to express love and appreciation.

Perhaps because I am a bit of plant fan, I think they are the perfect gift for just about every occasion. But it seems to me that they are especially apt for Mother's Day - they are all about growth and nurturing.

So I've been thinking about lovely plants that would make good gifts for Mother's Day. Chrysanthemums are the traditional gift because they are in full and glorious bloom right now and they are super easy to grow. Roses and orchids are also great choices.

But why not think a little outside of the box, and choose from the vast array of plants that say "I love you” all year round, thanks to their heart-shaped leaves?

Lots of plants with heart-shaped leaves grow really well in the shade or indoors. The heart-leaf philodendron (philodendron cordatum) has lovely green or gold leaves and is great in a hanging basket or trained to climb up a pole. Devil's ivy or pothos (epiprenum spp.) is similar, and the leaves can be green or gold or variegated white/green or gold/green.

Chain of hearts (ceropegia woodii) is a trailing succulent with small intricately patterned leaves that hang on long strands. It looks very sweet, and is best in a shady spot or indoors.

I'm growing a pepper vine (piper negrum) in my lounge room at the moment. The delightful deep green heart-shaped leaves trail and look very elegant. Its close cousin, the betel leaf, (piper sarmentosum) is similar and also does well indoors.

Even that darling of the indoor plant world, monstera deliciosa, has fairly small heart-shaped leaves as a young plant.

The distinctive huge leaves with many holes in them are a feature of a more mature specimen.

Colocasia and alocasia are commonly called elephants ears, but the smaller growing forms of these have leaves that are shaped like hearts.

And of course you can have heart-shaped leaves as well as flowers.

Just look at anthurium, with those lovely leaves topped with striking flowers, also heart-shaped, which may be white or shades of pink, red, orange and even purple.

Plants with heart-shaped leaves that thrive outside in sunny positions include hibiscus, mulberry trees, and the beautiful rainforest tree barklya syringifolia, commonly known as crown of gold.

This is a moderately slow-growing rainforest tree to about 10m, with bright green leaves and spectacular sprays of orange-yellow flowers in summer.

Endemic to Queensland, it nevertheless does well into Northern NSW, and deserves to be more widely grown.

Hearts are such a classic symbol of love, and isn't that what Mother's Day is all about?

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