If you're a plant lover, the Christmas season is another wonderful way to get more plants into your life. And if you enjoy sharing your love of plants, the good news is that plants are a thoughtful gift that will keep giving for years to come. Christmas has its fair share of plants that are practically synonymous with the holiday, and most of them are easy to find in just about any nursery or home and garden center.
These traditional Christmas plants are a mainstay of the holidays. Most commonly, the bracts (the colorful leaves that resemble flowers) are a bright, cheery red, but you can also find white poinsettias. Poinsettias are fairly easy to grow and can be kept from year to year if you have space and the right conditions to grow them year-round.
Poinsettias are usually sold in plastic pots with a foil-type wrapping to make them look even more festive. While there's nothing wrong with this, you can make a poinsettia a more personal gift by selecting a pretty cachepot to place the plant inside, either in a neutral tone or in a style and color that will match the recipient's decor. Add a pretty fabric bow and a gift tag, and it'll make a very lovely gift.
Christmas cacti are succulents that generally bloom around the holidays in shades of red, pink, or white. Christmas cactus care is pretty straightforward, so this is a good option for your own home or to give as a gift, even if the person you're gifting it to is a novice houseplant grower.
This is another plant that can often be purchased in plastic pots with foil wrappings during the holiday season. Consider buying a small galvanized pail to slip the plant into or gift the recipient with a hanging basket so they can hang their Christmas cactus in an east-facing window, where it will get all the light it needs.
Cyclamen are very attractive flowering plants that bloom in shades of white, pink, and red and often have variegated or mottled leaves. They're popular holiday plants (especially the red and white ones). They aren't too difficult to care for, though they are definitely sensitive to drying out, wilting easily if the soil becomes too dry.
Cyclamen also needs a dormant period, so if you're growing it as a houseplant, don't be alarmed if it starts looking dead a few weeks after it's finished flowering; keep it in a place with average indoor temperatures and keep the soil moist but not wet. New foliage will appear, usually in fall, since the plant tends to go dormant in late spring or early summer. Flower stalks will appear a few weeks after the foliage.
Consider gifting cyclamen by placing the plant (in its plastic pot) into a basket. The neutral, more natural texture is a wonderful backdrop for cyclamen's showy blooms and foliage.
While orchids are gorgeous year-round, they're becoming a popular choice as holiday plants as well. This popularity is mostly due to the fact that they start blooming as air temperatures start cooling, and once they start blooming, they bloom for a long time. They're very low-care plants (especially Phalaenopsis orchids) and will bloom straight through the holiday season.
If you purchase an orchid in a plastic pot, consider repotting it with fresh orchid bark into a special orchid planter. These have holes along the sides so that the orchid's roots can get the air they need. These pots are found in a variety of materials including pottery, wood, and terracotta. Look for an orchid that's beginning to bloom but still has a few unopened buds if possible. Another nice addition would be to gift the recipient with a set of little clips that hold the orchid stem up; these are much prettier than twine or the twist ties they're often sold with.
These quintessential Christmas flowers can be purchased just about anywhere in November and December as kits (a bulb, a pot, and some growing medium) or, less commonly, as live plants. Amaryllis are easy to care for, and with a bit of care and some planning, you can even keep the bulbs year to year so they'll bloom again next Christmas.
The easiest way to give amaryllis is to buy a pre-packaged kit and gift that, repackaged into a prettier box or into a nicer pot than the standard plastic one most kits come with. If you think the recipient would rather receive an already-blooming amaryllis, buy a kit yourself and plant it in early to mid-November so it's blooming by Christmas.
Rosemary, shaped into a tree-shaped topiary, is the perfect Christmas plant. Not only is it seasonal and festive, but it's also fragrant, and you can use the rosemary in your cooking as well! Rosemary is fairly easy to grow indoors. It needs full sun (or a plant light) and prefers a cool, well-ventilated spot.
When grown as topiaries, rosemary looks like little Christmas trees, and you can even decorate them with tiny ornaments, garlands, or small strands of twinkle lights.
Consider gifting a lightly-decorated rosemary topiary in an attractive pot, tied with a bow. A few festive plant pics stuck into the potting soil can add even more of a festive touch.
Paperwhites, also known as narcissus, are among the easiest Christmas plants to grow. They don't even need soil -- a container with a shallow layer of pebbles and water will work perfectly. These delicate white blossoms are very popular around the holidays, and they're wonderful for adding some freshness to your holiday displays or for giving as a gift. You can grow a single paperwhite in a tall, narrow glass or vase, or cluster several in a larger container.
Paperwhite bulbs should be started about four to six weeks before Christmas to ensure that they're blooming in time for the holiday.
A gift of a beautiful glass or cut crystal vase with some paperwhites blooming inside it is a wonderful idea. Not only does the recipient get fresh flowers for their home, but they also receive a keepsake vase. If the person you're gifting to might enjoy forcing the bulbs on their own, consider giving a few of the bulbs, a pretty container, and some decorative pebbles, along with instructions for planting them, so they can start their paperwhites whenever they wish.
Norfolk Island Pine
These feathery-looking evergreens make great Christmas plants, and you often find them sold everywhere from nurseries to home and garden centers around the holidays. Sometimes, they come pre-decorated with little Christmas ornaments and ribbons, or you can always buy a plain one and decorate it yourself if you choose to. You can find Norfolk Island Pines in a variety of sizes, including small trees in four-inch pots, perfect for a mantel or tabletop and larger plants that could even double as your Christmas tree.
Norfolk Island Pines are low-maintenance and will grow well with bright, indirect light and average home temperatures and humidity. You can put them outside on a porch, patio, or balcony for the summer and then bring them back inside once the weather starts getting cold again.
Give Norfolk Island Pine by sliding the plastic pot into a nicer outer pot or galvanized pail. If you know that your recipient has a certain hobby, you can even find little ornaments and other decorations that fit that theme to make this a very personalized gift.
While it's not necessarily the first plant people think of as a "Christmas plant," if you know your Christmas carols, you know why this plant fits. Because it's not specifically Christmas-y and isn't as temporary as some of the blooming plants featured on this list, ivy is sure to be appreciated all year round.
Ivy needs bright light, so a spot in front of a sunny southern window would work perfectly. You can also choose a spot where you can provide it with additional lighting from a plant light. They do well with average indoor temperatures and humidity and are fairly easy to grow. Variegated varieties can handle a bit less light, so if you have a spot with bright, indirect light, a variegated ivy might be perfect.
The best way to gift an ivy plant is by purchasing an attractive pot or basket for it. You could also consider buying a few seasonal floral picks to add to the pot to give it a more festive look. Another cute idea might be to include a card with the lyrics from "The Holly and the Ivy" on it, so the recipient will think of your gift whenever they hear the song!
For a less-traditional Christmas plant, consider lemon cypress. Like rosemary, it can easily be trimmed into a Christmas tree shape. It will also perfume your home with a lovely lemon scent, and it has bright, yellowish-green evergreen foliage.
You can continue growing lemon cypress as a houseplant all year long, or take it outside when the weather warms. If you garden in Zones 7 through 10, you can even transplant it out into the garden.
A pretty pot, some festive bows, and maybe a few small ornaments or a tiny strand of battery-powered twinkle lights are all it takes to make this the perfect gift for the gardener in your life.
Another less-traditional holiday plant is anthurium. Also known as the flamingo flower, anthurium sends up flower stalks with bright red bracts that combine with the deep green foliage of the plant for a really lovely, festive holiday look.
Anthurium is known as the world's longest blooming houseplant, with each flower lasting as long as eight weeks. It needs medium indoor light and should only be watered every week or two, making it perfect for busy households.
All you need when giving anthurium as a gift is a pretty pot or basket to go with it. This is a standout houseplant that's not only beautiful but also low maintenance.
People tend to think of primrose as a springtime plant, but there are red-flowering varieties that make it a wonderful, unique choice for the holidays Look for the variety 'Crescendo Bright Red,' which has bright red flowers with vibrant, star-shaped yellow centers and deep green leaves. It looks like it was almost custom-bred to be a Christmas plant.
Primroses are reasonably easy to care for too. They need bright, indirect light and even, regular watering.
An attractive way to gift primrose would be to purchase a long rectangular basket or wooden box planter and fill it with two or three primroses. Tuck some moss around the pots and maybe add a festive floral pick or two, and you've got a gift that will also make a wonderful tablescape or arrangement for a windowsill or mantel.
Not Just Christmas Trees
The Christmas season can be even more festive with the addition of a few seasonal houseplants. Whether you go traditional or more modern, the darker days of winter will definitely be a bit brighter.