Want an easy way to decorate your home for the holidays? Set out a few Christmas plants and you'll spread cheer to all who visit this season.
Big, crimson trumpets of amaryllis herald the season on your mantel or buffet table.
Red still rules for the holidays, however new cultivars offer a spectacular variety of shapes, colors and patterns to choose from each year. 'Red Lion' is unsurpassed for its brilliant red blooms. Popular cultivar 'Minerva' brings cheer with a red and white starry pattern.
Red Spider Lily (Lycoris radiata), shown above, is another dependable bloomer in the amaryllis family. Its striking clusters of blooms add gorgeous crimson color to your home in an unexpected twist on the traditional.
It has become increasingly popular as a houseplant, nudging its way into the holiday season.
There's a reason poinsettia is the best-selling flowering plant in the U.S. -- just look at those vibrant red bracts! Newer varieties may be snowy white, burgundy or pink, but red is still the hands-down best-seller.
These holiday favorites are tropical, brought into bloom by greenhouse growers in time for Christmas. Keep them at room temperature, with potting medium barely moist at all times.
Fragrant paperwhite blooms nestled in a pot make a glorious display.
Just about the easiest bulbs to force indoors, it's no wonder why paperwhites are popular Christmas plants. Newer cultivars have larger flowers...and more of them. 'Ziva' and 'Ariel' are just two prolific bloomers you'll want to try.
Paperwhites (shown at right) are often sold as kits for the holiday season. They're virtually foolproof -- just add water.
Fresh blooms from the florist make ever-easy Christmas décor. You can count on azaleas for a generous showing of flowers that will carry through all your holiday gatherings.
No need to repot -- just slip the growers pot into a cachepot (a decorative container without drainage holes). I put small rocks in the bottom of cachepots to keep the inner pot above the drainage water.
Winter-blooming cyclamen makes a beautiful Christmas plant for any room. Even those leaves are attractive, marbled with a silvery white pattern.
Unlike most house plants, cyclamen likes to stay fairly cool (around 60°F/15°C). Find a brightly lit spot for it, away from drafts and you'll enjoy several weeks of gorgeous, upright blooms.
Let this small conifer stand in for your Christmas tree. Or simply set this Norfolk Island Pine on a table as a fresh accent for the season. Go ahead -- decorate its boughs with tiny ornaments, bows and tinsel.
Keep this conifer indoors year-round -- it's tropical, not hardy. Give Norfolk Island Pine lots of light and plenty of moisture, and you'll find it's practically care-free. Best of all, you'll enjoy it for years to come.
Given enough light, you can expect blooms every year in time for the holidays. Treat it right and you'll enjoy it for many years. Some of my visitors tell me they've had their Christmas cactus for 20 years or more. It's an easy plant to propagate, too, so you can start new plants and share cuttings with friends.
Christmas cactus has become wildly popular as Christmas plants in recent years, and it's easy to see why. If you haven't grown one before, give it a try. You'll soon wonder why you waited so long.
Small but mighty, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana makes up for its petite size with the sheer number of blooms. Each flower stem holds dozens of flowers for a captivating Christmas display. Double-bloom varieties (shown above) remind me of bouquets of tiny roses.
Give this flowering succulent its place in the sun, and it will give you a delightful show of color for the holidays -- and into the new year.