Christmas is coming, and with it the gorgeous Christmas flowers and plants that mark the season. Some of these plants are associated with Christmas because of their colo (we’re looking at you, poinsettias!) while others are associated with Christmas because they bloom during the holiday season. A few are just decorative and compliment any holiday project you can think of.
Interestingly, most flowers associated with Christmas tend to be tropical, found in regions of North Africa, South Asia, and Central or South America. Many of them only became traditional to Christmas after colonists settled in these regions and sent them home to their families. To this day there are specific flowers that are customary to send or decorate with on Christmas. This also means that some flowers need special care or might be out of season, making them more expensive to find.
Whether you are decorating a centerpiece, putting together arrangements for loved ones, or designing a holiday wreath—it’s important to choose flowers that are beautiful and mean something to you during this special season.
Here are eight flowers for your Christmas decorating!
This Christmas classic was introduced to the United States in the 1800s and is celebrated on December 12. It was named after its discoverer, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was a botanist and the first US Ambassador to Mexico. The red protrusions we mistake for flower petals are actually more similar to leaves than flowers, but this flower has been a go-to for Christmas for almost two hundred years. They are also not poisonous, although ingesting too many of the leaves could leave small children and pets with tummy troubles.
What’s the story behind poinsettia’s and Christmas? A Mexican legend states that a young girl had no gift to give the Baby Jesus, so she pulled together a bouquet of weeds. When she presented them to Jesus, they turned into beautiful red flowers. Other historians believe the poinsettia’s shape closely resembles the star of Bethlehem.
The amaryllis plant grows in a stalk that produces flowers of red, pink or purple. Found mostly in tropical or subtropical climes, it grows very well indoors. The flashy colors make it a great plant for decorating, and the deep hue of the red ones make them wonderful for Christmas, even though they bloom closer to Easter. A bonus of amaryllis is that it has medicinal properties that treat Alzheimer’s disease (but consult your doctor before grinding it up)!
With a nickname like “Old Man’s Beard,” it is no wonder the clematis makes a gorgeous addition to your holiday decorating! Its petals call to mind Santa’s beard. The flower’s name comes from the Greek word for “vine” and this particular property make it a great garnish to your holiday wreath. In fact, it comes in so many different colors that it shouldn’t be hard to work into the rest of your decorating!
There are many types of Algerian Iris, and they do not only grow in Algeria but also in Greece and all over the shores of the Mediterranean. The Mary Barnard variety was collected in Algeria in 1937. This flower thrives on neglect, preferring rocky soils and little water in order to thrive. Gardeners recommend picking the flower and letting it unfurl indoors. Since it blooms starting in November, it is a flower that is commonly seen around Christmas in many locales and thus finds its way into many Christmas florals!
The more common name of this flower is much simpler than its Latin one: it is known as a snowdrop. It can be a beautiful garnish for a wreath or any flower arrangement, and can even be the star of a tastefully understated arrangement. Snowdrops have been around Europe since the 16th century, but the big boom started when British soldiers laid eyes on them in their indigenous habitat during the Crimean War in the 1850s.
Cacti are not a plant one would think to associate with Christmas, when we are thinking about snow, firesides and hot chocolate, but Christmas cactus makes a beautiful and colorful case for the desert plant. Aside from the fact that cacti thrive on neglect, they are also very long-lived and survive very well in cool temperatures. Blooms for these flowers open more readily in darkness, cascading from the stalk in a colorful array that looks gorgeous in a centerpiece or hanging arrangement.
The best part is you can use Christmas cactus to decorate your outdoors. Frame them around your front door, complimenting your wreath, or bring a little bit of the outdoors inside by placing them around your living room.
This tree had to be on this list because its long history as a traditional winter decoration predates Christmas. In addition to its well-known leaf structure and familiar red berries, holly also has aromatic white flowers. You have probably seen a wreath or garland made from the leaves, but don’t stop there in your own decorating! Just be mindful of the berries, since they are poisonous to children and pets.
These colorful flowers are another of the varieties that hail from tropical climates, in this case on all three continents. There are many different kinds of begonias, with a variety of sizes, shapes and colors to choose from. They are easy to find and thrive indoors, so you can grow them in any climate. To top it off, they are edible, which means they are kid and pet-friendly. While not typically a Christmas flower, their versatility lends to them being a welcome accent to your creative Christmas flower projects! Plus, these are perfect to bring to big holiday parties--they won’t bother allergies.
Flowers For Christmas Care
The eight flowers just listed thrive in different climates and have a wide array of care requirements. Some, like the cactus, thrive without water, while others, such as the Mary Barnard Algerian Iris, might be too delicate to bear much stress in an arrangement. Knowing how best to preserve each flower for a project will ensure that your decorations last, if that’s what you want to do. Most importantly, some of these flowers can last for many years if you have them planted, so knowing how to properly care for them can guarantee years of fresh displays!
Flowers make people happy, and make a great element to your holiday decorations. The flowers just listed for you can help make your Christmas colorful and bright, or be a wonderful gift to someone you love. They could decorate your home, your garden, or your office, and bring a little Christmas cheer to everyone who sees them!