During the holiday season, one of the best presents to bring to a friend, co-worker or relative is a living plant. You’re probably immediately thinking of poinsettias and living Christmas trees, but these are pretty standard. There are many other beautiful plants out there that are much more unique.
Here’s a look at some of the festive plants that you may be seeing this season at garden centers, florist shops and department stores. Most of them are warm-weather natives, so can be planted in your garden in the spring. Otherwise, you can continue to keep them indoors.
Don’t stop at poinsettias – give these others a look.
Amaryllis – One of the most stunning blooming plants for holiday decoration, with trumpet-shaped flowers available in red, white, and shades of salmon and pink. It’s available either as a blooming plant or in growing kits, which typically include a pot, growing medium, instructions, and a flower bulb.
Forcing blooms indoors for the holidays is very simple. However, if you choose the bulb kit, plant it by Thanksgiving if you want to see flowers by Christmas. It makes a striking centerpiece for a holiday table.
Amaryllis can be planted outside in mild climates. You can also save the bulbs and grow it indoors again after allowing them to become dormant. Lift the bulbs from the pot and store in a cool place, like a garage, for 10 weeks before replanting.
Camellia – This is an unusual gift to give, but a gorgeous one. Camellias naturally bloom in the winter or early spring and are available in shades of pink and white. During their non-blooming periods, camellias are attractive shrubs with glossy leaves. The camellia can be planted outdoors in areas where temperatures don’t fall below 10 degrees, but otherwise can be kept as a container plant.
Gardenia – Another winter bloomer that is famous not only for its flowers, but its wonderful fragrance. Although it’s only hardy in USDA planting zones 10-11, it can also be kept as a container plant in a sheltered area or indoors, in bright light but away from direct sunlight. It is somewhat fussy about soil requirements and watering, so getting it to rebloom may be tricky.
Ivy – You may see ivy trained to grow in topiary containers at this time of year, an unusual evergreen accent for holiday décor.
Kalanchoe – This is a succulent which has become popular in recent years as a potted plant. It’s especially nice at Christmas time because it comes in red and white varieties, with little star-shaped flowers. As an indoor plant, it only needs occasional waterings and doesn’t mind a little neglect.
It will do well as a container plant; only plant outdoors if your area doesn’t fall below 30 degrees in the winter.
Paperwhite narcissus – Another indoor blooming bulb, with requirements that are very similar to the amaryllis, and is also available either already growing in pots or as a kit. Paperwhites are gorgeous and fragrant, and make a dramatic centerpiece or accent plant for your holiday display.
Rosemary – This plant is available during the holidays in topiary style, clipped into Christmas tree form or other shapes. It makes a lovely gift for the home cook, who can easily clip a little fresh rosemary when needed. It can be planted outdoors in mild climates or kept as a container plant elsewhere.