Decorate for Christmas with flowers, plants

Decorate for Christmas with flowers, plants
Decorate for Christmas with flowers, plants

Say “decorate for Christmas” and many of us immediately think of the plants that say Christmas. Your decorating list could include poinsettias, paperwhites, rosemary, amaryllis, holly, Christmas cactus, Christmas rose, mistletoe and your own Christmas tree. 

It’s odd, but many of our holiday plants are tropical in nature. You can just think of them as a houseplant for the holiday season. They don’t want to be in an area with cold drafts blowing on them, and they do like regular watering.

Poinsettias are the No. 1 holiday flower. They got their name from the former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel Poinsett, who introduced this plant to the U.S. This native of Mexico and Central America can now be found in red, lemon, cream, peach and pink. The newer cultivars give us long-lasting color compared to those of years gone by. The bright petals, which look like flowers, are the upper leaves of the plant, called bracts. Keep them inside or out, take their “sleeves” off, keep their soil moist and honor them on Dec. 12, National Poinsettia Day.

Paperwhites and amaryllis truly display the spirit of the season. You can usually find the bulbs at garden centers. It takes about 4-6 weeks to grow your striking centerpiece. Paperwhites are botanically called Narcissus. As the story goes, Narcissus, infatuated by his own reflection in a pool, stared at himself until the gods turned him into a flower. Amaryllis have showy, trumpet-like flowers on thick stems. Both of these bulbs like to be placed into a shallow dish or bowl almost full of gravel or pebbles or glass beads. Anchor them down into the gravel, place them where there is lots of light and keep them moist. If the stalks begin to lean, just water with a little half diluted gin or vodka. Yep, use diluted gin and vodka! Don’t let these bulbs dry out. Try the kits you see at the store with paperwhite and amaryllis bulbs. Kids of any age will enjoy watching their bulbs turn into beauties.

Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) likes nothing better than bright light, 50-60 percent humidity and to be away from drafts. Water when the surface of soil feels a little dry. You can add fertilizer if you want to keep your Schlumbergera for years and pass it down to your grandchildren. Ed Hume Seeds on the Internet is an excellent source for further Christmas cactus information.

No matter what Christmas plant you choose for your home, you can’t go wrong. Just keep them out of drafts, away from heaters, don’t overwater (but do water), and enjoy. This is a holiday to celebrate beauty and good cheer, and few things are more beautiful than pretty flowers, good health and wonderful friends.


Joette is an avid gardener and prides  herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. To share your gardening news with Joette, call (409) 832-1400 or fax her at (409) 832-6222. Her e-mail is joreger [at] msn [dot] com.