After the last burst of autumn colors, when the leaves turn red, orange, and yellow then fall from their branches, there isn’t much color left in nature until spring rolls around. However, with the right indoor plants, your indoor garden doesn’t have to be as bleak and grey as the winter sky. These festive plants are the most popular sources of bright colors and living decor during the holiday season.
One of the most common plants you’ll see adorning people’s mantles, shelves, and windowsills around Christmas is the poinsettia. This highly festive plant features dark green leaves and large, bright red flowers, which creates a perfect accent for a home already decked out in plenty of Christmasy colors. It is said that the star-shaped leaf pattern symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem while the red of the blooms is meant to symbolize the blood of Christ.
The Christmas cactus is another red and green plant that can be seen blooming throughout the holiday season and complementing the cheery colors of Christmas. There are many different cultivars of the Schlumbergera genus but the Christmas cactus will fall into one of two groups. The Truncata cultivars feature stem segments with pointed teeth, horizontal flowers, and a bloom season sometime around fall. The Buckleyi cultivars have stem segments which are more rounded, flowers that hang down, and a blooming season later into winter. The Buckleyi cultivars are the truer “Christmas cacti”.
Holly is a genus that contains around 480 different species of flowering plants, such as trees, shrubs, and climbers. Decorating with holly for the winter season dates back to the oldest Druid, Celtic, and Roman traditions. Within Christian symbolism, the prickly leaves signify the crown of thorns and the red berries signify the blood Jesus bled when pricked by said thorns. You’ll often see holly incorporated into wreaths and other Christmas decor but you can also grow your own holly through seeds or cuttings.
Kissing under the mistletoe is one of the most infamous Christmas traditions and it stems from this plant’s ancient associations with fertility, peace, and love. During the Christmas season, clippings of mistletoe are often hung over doorways or added into other festive decorating schemes, but you don’t often see anyone growing this curious plant. Mistletoe actually acts somewhat parasitically, growing on the branches of other trees and leeching the nutrients from them. You can grow your own mistletoe by depositing the seeds from the berries onto the smaller, newer branches of one of your own trees.
When amaryllis flowers bloom, they create large, trumpet-shaped blossoms of red, white, or variegated combinations somewhere in between. The flowers are delightfully showy and may reach up to 10 inches wide. Some gorgeous cultivars that are especially popular around the holiday season are the “Fire Dancer”, which bloom into a bright, stunning red, or the “Christmas Gift”, which produces peaceful looking flowers of pure white. Amaryllises naturally bloom in the spring but if you snip off their flowers stems when they’re done blooming and provide them with ample light, water, and nutrients, they will happily rebloom over the holiday season.
Christmas Cheer Azalea
The Christmas Cheer azalea is a type of Rhododendron shrub that blooms in the late winter and early spring, producing bright red or softer pink flowers to liven up even the bleakest winter landscape. They will produce their closely spaced clusters of flowers in many batches over a long period of time, up to about 2 months or so. To promote new growth, remove the old flowers from the plant once they begin to wilt.
Solanum pseudocapsicum, also known as winter cherry or Jerusalem cherry, is a very popular plant to buy around the Christmas season, whether you want to display it ornamentally or to give it as a gift. The plant flowers during the summer and produces it’s red, cherry tomato-like berries closer to winter. This plant is a member of the nightshade family and the fruit is mildly poisonous with the potential to cause gastric problems if ingested.
The Christmas Rose, or Helleborus niger, is not truly a rose but is actually part of the buttercup family. The large flowers this plant produces look somewhat like wild roses and they will bloom throughout the winter season. The flowers are either pure white or they may be slightly accented with hues of pink, green, and even a tinge of yellow. This is another poisonous plant which can cause a burning sensation in the mouth, eyes, and throat, as well as gastrointestinal symptoms, so be sure to keep it where pets and children won’t have access to it.
Paperwhite narcissus, or Narcissus papyraceus, is a type of daffodil that will bloom beautiful bunches of snowy white flowers. The flowers are incredibly fragrant and give off a spicy sort of aroma. They can be grown outside but they aren’t very winter hardy, so grow these guys indoors over the winter season and allow their gorgeous floral displays and delightful scents to impress your holiday visitors. You can buy bulbs in the fall and they will grow and bloom in almost no time at all.
The peace lily is one of the most demure and elegant looking flowering plants. They don’t need much sun, making them an excellent choice as an indoor plant, especially in those bleak, dark winter months. Peace lilies typically bloom in the spring but if you give them the proper care they can be encouraged to bloom again in the fall, with flowers that will last for about 2 months.
The holidays are a time of warmth and happiness so add some color to your otherwise dormant indoor garden with these festive plants. While these species may be common in Christmas decor, they may not necessarily be cold weather loving plants. Be sure to keep your living plants away from cool drafts or exceptionally cold windows. Every plant comes with its own climate preferences so check the care instructions when you purchase your holiday plants and provide them with the water, temperature, and light requirements they’ll need to flourish.