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Christmas Plants: How To Create An Indoor Holiday Garden

By Jackson & Perkins
Photographs courtesy of Jackson & Perkins


The holiday season is just around the corner, and now is the time to start planning. We all have a collection of decorations for both indoors and out, and it is always fun to bring them out each year and reconnect with past holidays. Maybe you have some ornaments that have been handed down from your parents or grandparents.

Some families have personalized Christmas stockings for each family member. There may be a lot of traditional decorations that your family uses each year, or you may be starting your own new traditions with your own decorations.

This year, make some organic additions to your décor that will complement what you already have. Make this the year that you add Christmas plants to your décor. Not only are they beautiful, but many have their own history that connects them to the holidays. These Christmas-themed flowering shrubs and plants will be the perfect accent to your holiday décor.

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Start by Choosing Your Colors

We all can agree that the primary colors associated with Christmas are red and green, but there is no reason that there can’t be another color added that is unexpected. Maybe shades of blue or even purple appeal to you. Yellows and golds could also be stunning. You could take your cue from the upholstery colors of the furniture in the room. 

Maybe the holidays at your home are all-out color with no limitations. Silver and gold accents usually give a more formal feel. There is a much broader color range available in Christmas plants (have you seen the blue poinsettias?) that you can take advantage of, or you can use the pots your plants are in to add that unexpected color.

Choose Your Christmas Garden Theme

Sometimes having a theme to your décor is most effective. A traditional Christmas includes garlands and wreaths, stockings hung from the fireplace mantel and gingerbread houses. It is a comfortable look that makes us remember Christmases past. Accentuate that feel by bringing out well-loved childhood toys and Christmas books and adding them to your décor. 

Hang the ornaments that your children made in school. Consider putting up a real Christmas tree this year instead of the artificial tree. Add mistletoe and holly and all the other traditional holiday plants.

As an alternative, go in the opposite direction. Maybe you inherited your grandmother’s pink plastic Christmas tree! For some, it’s about as tacky as they come, but you can go with it and decorate for a pink Christmas. Add a pink flamingo with a wreath around its neck and a Santa hat. Make everything revolve around a beach vibe Christmas. 

From there, include lots of Christmas plants that are all blooming pink. The pink amaryllis bulb looks spectacular! This is just one way not to be limited by the red and green palette.

Mix Your Plants in with Your Christmas Lighting

There is nothing more magical than the twinkle of lights at Christmas. Use them on the garlands on the stair rails and on the wreaths. Use them in unexpected places as well. Lights can be used to fill a basket or woven through flowers used for your table centerpiece.

Whether you choose to go elegant or casual, western ranch style, northwoods cabin or cosmopolitan, have fun with your holiday decorating this year. 

Choose Plants for Your Indoor Christmas Holiday Garden

While there are many plants available that fit the Christmas theme, some have the holiday’s traditions attached to them. Here are a few you will want to consider adding when decorating your home for the holidays.

Amaryllis: Amaryllis have become a favorite Christmas flower. It’s no surprise since this plant produces the most spectacular blooms, typically in November and December, with very little effort from the gardener. These incredibly vibrant-colored flowers come in reds and white but also in pinks, burgundy, and peach. There are also variegated-colored blooms or picotee (having petals that have a different color edge). Your amaryllis bulbs can be planted in a pot and will often last for decades with little special care. 

Norfolk Island pine: This plant has become popular as an alternative to large Christmas trees. They fit almost anywhere, including the smallest apartment, and are perfect as a tabletop tree. These trees can be purchased as is or they can be purchased already decorated for Christmas with miniature ornaments and lights. Sometimes the tree is covered in glitter to add a more festive look. These trees are easy to care for and will be a great addition to your houseplant collection after the holidays are over.

Rosemary: This herb has become popular to use as a tabletop tree at Christmas. By training and pruning the rosemary into the shape of a Christmas tree, it has become a bestseller. It’s a great multipurpose gift for the chef on your list and it is a great windowsill herb for your own home. This is an edible plant that you will enjoy using the rest of the year and you can move it to your outside garden in the spring if you wish. Add a few miniature ornaments or a colorful bow and it will fit beautifully into a holiday grouping.

Poinsettia: Poinsettias are tropical plants native to Mexico. Poinsettias come in many colors, including pink, burgundy, white, and even blue. There are also variations of the traditional red poinsettia, and they now are available in red and white stripes or red with white spots. One of the newest versions of poinsettia has rounded leaves instead of pointed. Who knows what will come next, but it certainly gives lots of options for an indoor holiday display. Most people throw their poinsettias away after Christmas, but with a little effort, they will bloom again. The biggest factor in making this possible is to remove them from light for longer periods of time in the fall. This will encourage the plant to change color from green leaves to the vibrant colors we all love.

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Holly: At Christmas we look forward to the dark green leaves and the red berries this shrub produces. There are several different types of holly and most grow into a large shrub or can even become the size of a tree. The good news is that if you have room for one in your yard, you will have your own supply of holly branches for all your holiday decorations. Holly has been paired with ivy since pagan times, when they were brought into the home during the winter months as a symbol of hope for the coming spring. Romans used holly to celebrate the god Saturn. Since that celebration was held near the same time we now celebrate Christmas, Christians transferred the holly and ivy to Christmas.

Cyclamen: Cyclamen is a popular Christmas plant since it blooms at that time of year and continues blooming for several months after. Cyclamen go dormant in the summer, but come back ready to bloom by Christmas. The heart-shaped leaves are appropriate for a plant that is said to symbolize deep lasting love. It will flower at Christmas with a mass of red or white blossoms. Cyclamen also come in pink and purple. Cyclamen grows from a tuber and is a very hardy plant that will come back year after year with minimum care.

Christmas cactus: The Christmas cactus is named after the holiday due to its habit of blooming at that time of year. There is also a Thanksgiving cactus and an Easter cactus named according to the timing of the holiday they tend to bloom around. These plants are easy-care succulents and can live for generations. They bloom year after year without fail with flowers in shades of red, pink, and white. 

Paperwhites: Paperwhites are a great bulb plant for forcing. Paperwhites will start to grow when you water them and so they don’t need a period of dormancy. The paperwhite grows a long stem with a beautiful, delicate-looking white flower. These flowers give off a heady scent that reminds us that spring will come soon. Enjoy them for Christmas, but don’t stop there! Plant several pots of these flowers in succession every two weeks to take you through the winter months.

Dried hydrangea blooms: If you have a flowering shrub like hydrangea, harvest and dry the blossoms for use in your holiday arrangements. Add some twinkle lights or some holiday ribbon for a great long-lasting display. Another use for the blooms is to tuck the dried flower heads between the branches of the Christmas tree. Make your tree all-natural by decorating with dried orange slices or orange peel spirals. Add some stems of dried grasses and dried flowers for added effect.

Roses: If you live in the north, you don’t have roses blooming in the garden at Christmas, but you do have rose hips on your flowering shrubs. Use the rose hips for interest and color in your holiday display.

Evergreens: If you have evergreen trees or cedars, don’t prune them until the holidays, when you can bring the cuttings indoors to use in your holiday displays.

There are many sources of organic options for your holiday decorating. Live plants and dried plant material will bring extra beauty and make your home truly stand out for Christmas.

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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