The Holly and the Ivy, Pine, Mistletoe, Fir and Yew; in the middle of a British winter these are surprisingly almost the only native plants that are still green. If you go out intending to find plant material to make a wreath, table decoration or to hang over pictures, you are limited to these. The only possible bright accent colour being the Holly’s red berries.
It’s no wonder that these are the plants we traditionally associate with Christmas in the UK. However as new options from around the world have become available, we have eagerly incorporated them into our traditional Christmas décor. Here are some of the more modern options and the best way to care for your live festive plants!
CYCLAMEN (Cyclamen persicum)
Though not the largest or showiest of flowering plants, their small flowers in white, red or pink make them perfect for a table centre. Cyclamen don’t like to be kept too hot and can be sensitive to both over and under watering, but given the right care they can be kept flowering all through the winter.
One thing to be aware of is that there are indoor and outdoor varieties of Cyclamen. Make sure you buy the right type as the outdoor plants won’t survive for long in a heated room.
Cyclamen - Image credit RHS
If you want something a bit more dramatic then go for Amaryllis. These are large flowering bulbs with trumpet shaped flowers in all shades of red, white, pink, orange and green on tall straight fleshy stems. The bulbs need about 6-8 weeks before flowers will appear, so if you want flowers at Christmas you need to either plan ahead or buy a plant already part grown.
Amaryllis plants aren’t difficult to look after, they like indirect light, regular watering and a support stake can be good to keep those large blooms upright. For more Ameryllis care tips visit gardeners.com
Image Credit A.Heidemann via Wikipedia
POINSETTIA (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
Finally, probably the most popular indoor Christmas plant in the UK these days, the Poinsettia. It may surprise you to learn that this plant originally came from Central America, so it’s a long way from home. Also those red coloured tops aren’t flowers but leaf bracts, a modified or specialized leaf.
Poinsettias can be a little tricky, who hasn’t had one that wilted or dropped all its red leaves overnight? The first thing is to get one from a reputable supplier. The plants are sensitive to cold and temperature changes, hardly surprising given their native lands! If they have been left in a cold van or storeroom overnight, or even if you let them get cold on the way home they are more than likely to react badly when they reach your heated home or office.
They do best in a fairly bright position and should be watered with restraint and given a regular feed with houseplant fertilizer to keep the plant strong. If the plant has visibly wilted try giving it a good soaking in warm water before you give up on it, as they will often revive.
Poinsettias don’t have to be thrown away after Christmas, with the right care they can be kept healthy and brought back to full festive redness each year. You can find some more care tips from the RHS here.
Image Credit - Wikimedia Commons
So there you go, with Plant Designs tips there is no reason why your rooms can’t be a riot of living colour this festive season!
Happy Christmas and a Joyous new year to all you plant lovers out there.