Poinsettias may be some of the most iconic flowers of Christmastime, but they’re also highly overrated. Luckily, there are plenty of other cool-season choices. Here are 24 gorgeous Christmas plants you can use to brighten up your home this year that aren’t poinsettias.
This lovely plant has long been associated with Christmastime. As you may already know, when two people stand under mistletoe, they’re supposed to kiss. The tradition started with 18th-century Victorians, and if you refuse the kiss, you may find yourself plagued with bad luck.
Care: Because the plant is considered a parasite that grows on the branches of shrubs or trees, it’s easy to grow and care for. You can also start mistletoe indoors from seed, and the hardy plant requires minimal care besides a little fertilizer in the spring.
Note: Mistletoe is extremely toxic if ingested, and can be deadly if eaten by small children and pets. If you have dogs, cats, rabbits, or toddlers, you may wish to opt for artificial mistletoe instead.
Red and white azaleas are gorgeous during the Christmas season, and they’re often the hallmark southern gardens. There are thousands of varieties, so go for an evergreen type that’s native to Asia for winter foliage and blooms.
Care: These plants grow best in a location with shelter from harsh winds and morning sunlight. However, they won’t tolerate the cold. Plant your azaleas in containers and ensure the variety is right for your climate’s planting zone for the best results.
Old-fashioned Christmas begonias were popular Christmas plants before World War II, especially white varieties. Although the plant fell victim to powdery mildew is now produced from cuttings, you’re more likely to find varieties like Rieger hybrids or a close resemblance known as “Marjorie Gibbs.”
Care: Begonias are easy to grow in containers. Keep the soil moist, but not too wet. Make sure to never overwater them or allow water to rest on the foliage, as the plants are highly susceptible to mildew.
Kalanchoes are bright, colorful succulents that help remove the dry air from inside your home during the winter. The plant is sensitive to the cold, but it’s easy to grow as a houseplant.
Care: Kalanchoes’ blooms are long-lasting with sandy soil and plenty of sunlight. Allow the soil to dry between watering, and trim off any dead blooms and fertilize during growth periods for the best results.
Popular in coastal flower beds, Cyclamen blooms are stunning all winter season long. The flowers inch open slowly, but the foliage is colorful and interesting to view. You’ll see them in grocery stores each winter in shades of white, purple, pink, and red.
Care: These cool-season Christmas plants can tolerate temperatures as low as 40F. Expect the flowers to last around eight weeks with medium amounts of indirect light and regular deadheading.
6. Christmas Cactus
Christmas Cactus is a fun holiday container succulent that survives in the winter and will bloom year after year. You may also find this plant called the Thanksgiving Cactus, because stores begin to sell it around that holiday.
Care: This is one of the hardiest Christmas plants you can buy. It comes in varying shades and thrives in a bright, sunny window. Just water the plant when it’s dry.
7. Winter Honeysuckle
Honeysuckle comes in semievergreen and evergreen varieties, as well as deciduous shrubs and vines. The winter type, known as January jasmine (Lonicera fragrantissima), is a semi-evergreen with dark green foliage, tiny red fruit, and fragrant white blooms.
Care: Excellent as a compact hedge, winter honeysuckle is stunning in an outdoor winter garden. Clip the branches to start new plants indoors as well, which helps you bring the sweet scent into your home.
8. Phalaenopsis Orchid
They may appear delicate, but these orchids are not as fragile as they seem. With the right care, you can grow this type of orchid clear into the spring months. They make unusual Christmas plants, but certainly lovely, fragrant ones as well.
Care: Phalaenopsis orchids are best grown indoors. Provide bright, indirect sunlight, stable temperatures, and water once per week (unless your planting method uses a soil-less medium).
9. Guzmania Bromeliads
Several varieties of Guzmania bromeliads are ideal for the holidays, such as “Pax” and “Snowball.” They both offer deep green foliage and white bracts. When you place multiple container plants together, you can even create a bromeliad Christmas tree.
Care: This pineapple relative is similar and easy enough for beginners. Guzmania bromeliads require moist soil, distilled or filtered water, high humidity, and bright light.
If you want large blooms around Christmas time, Hydrangeas are difficult to beat. White and green varieties are popular among the holiday season. The “Panicle” variety is more cold-resistant, making it a fan favorite in areas as cold as zone 3.
Care: Unlike you may think, Hydrangeas are actually easy to grow. Plant them in containers during the fall for an indoor shrub that’s protected from the cold. Deeply water the plants, mulch them if you plant outdoors, and use fertilizer specific to the variety of hydrangeas.
Most Primrose types bloom in the spring and summer, but there are several winter varieties as well. Look for P. x polyantha hybrids, which are sometimes called polyanthus primrose or English primrose. They offer flowers in the winter.
Care: Perfect for containers, winter types of Primrose thrive as cold-season annuals when planted in clusters. Provide a humid, cool area with rich and moist soil.
Although they look like a Peace Lily, Anthuriums have glossy foliage and blooms. The deep red variety has a stunning color that’s perfect for Christmas, and you can give a potted Anthurium as a holiday gift to spread the cheer.
Care: They’re not the easiest houseplant, so Anthuriums are suggested for experienced gardeners. The plant requires low light, dry soil between watering, and minimal fertilizing. The trick to keeping this plant alive, however, lies in the frequency of your care. Check-in regularly.
13. Lenten Rose
Lenten rose, also known as Helleborus, offers subtle color in winter flower gardens. The blooms are bell-shaped, with colors from white, pink, and green to red, and purple. Expect the flowers to last clear to spring!
Care: A long-living garden plant, your Lenten rose will thrive in well-draining soil with a slightly alkaline balance. After you plant, leave the plant alone. It will take care of the rest while resisting rodents and deer.
14. Paperwhite Narcissus
Paperwhites are a perennial flower that grows from a bulb. However, you can plant them in containers to extend the blooms indoors throughout the winter. The delicate white flowers are fragrant.
Care: Paperwhites require little soil, and the hardy plants flower until Christmas with regular watering, well-draining soil, and low light. Keep the plant in a cool area away from sunlight, and you might want to stake the stems for added support.
A popular Christmas flower, Amaryllis grows from a bulb and offers white or bright red trumpet-shaped blooms. Some varieties are planted in October or November, like “Ferrari,” and are grown in a greenhouse for the holiday season.
Care: Plant the bulbs in the fall or buy pre-planted container Amaryllis flowers. They require bright light, regular water, and well-draining soil.
16. Bodnant Viburnum
Bodnant Viburnum grows quite large. At 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide, offer plenty of place in your yard to plant winter varieties like “Dawn.” The red fruit and fragrant pink flowers pop up in the winter, and the color changes to deep scarlet in the fall.
Care: The species tolerates most soil types well, so all you need is some shade from the summer heat and minimal pruning to care for this plant. Southern areas are ideal for fall and winter varieties.
Pansies are popular blooms in many planting zones, but the hybrid variety Viola x wittrockiana is related to violets and grown as a cool-season annual. The plant makes perfect winter ground cover, with varieties like “Sprite Mix” and “Padparadja.”
Care: Chosen for mass planting, pansies are excellent in garden borders. They thrive in areas with mild winters, rich and moist soil, and full sun to partial shade.
Rosemary is often shorn into a tree-like shape to mimic a Christmas tree. The pine-like scent is fresh and invigorating in the winter months, and you can incorporate the herb into winter roasts and stews as well.
Care: Your Rosemary container plant will thrive in a bright west- or south-facing window. Check the soil every few days to see if it requires water, and never allow it to completely dry out between waterings.
19. Valencia Orange
Valencia orange, or Citrus x sinensis, is known as the ideal orange to use for juicing. It’s also perfect for Christmas oranges. The fruit is nearly seedless in midwinter, and some varieties even produce seedless oranges. Types like “Midknight” or “Delta” are both seedless and resistant to the cold (when planted in the South).
Care: Plant a Valencia orange tree outside your home to take advantage of citrus fruits and fragrant blooms all year round. The only require regular watering and full sun to thrive in areas like California or Florida.
20. Winterberry Holly
Holly is an iconic Christmas shrub, and this winterberry type (Ilex verticillata) offers dark foliage and hardiness to cold temperatures. The female plants bear the clusters of berries during winter, and varieties like “Red Sprite” and “Winter Red” will last through February.
Care: Plant winterberry holly in acidic soil. as a privacy hedge. Water regularly, and keep the environment moist for the shrub to grow up to 50-feet-tall.
21. Norfolk Pine
A long-lasting plant native to the South Pacific, Norfolk pine is for indoor planting only. The soft needle-like foliage appears like a Christmas tree, making it perfect for the winter season.
Care: Replant the tree every two years, and keep it in a medium to brightly lit room. A east or west-facing window is ideal, and low light conditions may cause the branches to drop. Water immediately when the soil feel dry.
22. Fir Tree
The fir is the iconic classic Christmas tree. These trees come in varying shapes and sizes, so you can buy the right one to fit in your living room. Use this potted tree as your Christmas tree year after year!
Care: To care for a potted fir, maintain regular watering. Move the tree outdoors after the holiday season, and keep it in a place with afternoon shade and moist soil.
Ivy (Hedera sp.) makes a spectacular Christmas plant due to its deep green foliage. The evergreen plant is a climbing vine, so it will grow up walls and spread across your yard. They also look lovely in hanging baskets, containers, or on a trellis.
Care: Plant ivy in the fall or spring. You’ll have better results if you grow from seed, and use organic and rich soil. Fertilizer in the summer and spring to encourage more growth.
24. Mahonia x media
An evergreen shrub, Mahonia x media is a hybrid species that appears like holly. However, it’s more closely related to barberry. During winter, expect to see prickly green leaves with yellow flowers that bloom in clusters. “Winter Sun” is a variety with early blooms in the season and an excellent fragrance around Christmastime.
Care: A low-maintenance plant, Mahonia will reach 5-feet-tall and wide with well-draining soil and occasional pruning. It’s resistant to deer and other pests.
Alternatively, Try a Festive Mixed Garden!
With so many beautiful Christmas plants to choose from, there’s no reason to stick with a single variety! A mixed garden basket can incorporate many blooming plants to make your own holiday garden. Pair them with Poinsettias for the ultimate Christmas festivity, or leave out the overrated holiday bloom. The choice is yours!
*Note: As mentioned with some of the species mentioned above, several of these plants are toxic—if not deadly—to pets and small children. Do your research before bringing plants indoors, and keep the holidays safe and happy for all the members of your family!