Festive Christmas flowers and plants

Houseplants and cut flowers are an effective way to introduce a splash of colour to your home over the festive holidays. There are plenty of Christmas houseplants to choose from, both to brighten up indoors and add a seasonal lift outside too.

Poinsettias are a popular choice at this time of year, their rich red bracts symbolising the traditional spirit of the season. The perfect house guest, they’re easy to care for too - just pop in bright light, although not direct sun, and water when dry. A Christmas cactus is perfect if you’re looking for something a little different for your home or to give friends and family. Typically found in jungle-type woodlands, they prefer a slightly shady spot and just need an occasional watering.


Bulbs for Christmas

Choose bulbs you can force and you’ll have flowers at Christmas. Amaryllis makes an eye-catching centrepiece on the festive table with its trumpet flower sitting atop a long, tall stem, while delicate Paperwhite Narcissi will fill your home with a heady scent throughout the holidays.

For a traditional look, plant clusters of five or ten bulbs in terracotta pots, pointed end up or for a more contemporary feel, half-fill glass jars with stones, glass beads or gravel. Place in a cool, dark place in October and bring into a warm room a few days before you want them to burst into bloom.

Hyacinths are another festive favourite, either forced in autumn so they bloom in time for the holidays or given as gift kits, ready to flower ten to twelve weeks after planting, in early spring. Available in a range of colours from white, pink, blue and purple, they bring colour and fragrance into the home and work well with both traditional and contemporary themes.


Outdoor colour

When it comes to plants that will put on a show when little else is in flower outside, it’s hard to beat the Christmas rose. Boasting the largest of flowers in the Hellebore family, they’re best planted in containers rather than in borders. Grown this way, they get all the benefits of the right soil, a deep root run and protection from harsh weather, and will reward you by coming back year after year to provide a display of beautiful blooms. For best results, use a free-draining, soil-based compost such as John Innes No 3 and choose a sunny spot near a south-facing wall. Mix with other seasonal favourites, like Skimmia, ivy and Cyclamen to make festive container displays.

One of the few flowering shrubs at this time of year is the deliciously fragranced Christmas box, Make the most of its honey-scented white flowers by planting it near to the front door, gate or along a path – you can even use its stems for festive cut-flower displays. Happy to cope in shade and a wide range of soils, this slow-growing evergreen needs a light trim in spring to keep it in good shape.

For more ideas about winter blooms and container displays, take a look at our videos.