It’s that time of year again. You know, to troll the ancient yuletide carol? Whatever that means. Well, it is, and if you are a plant lover then it’s also time to think about festive foliage to place around your humble abode. Last year, I wrote a piece about the more traditional sorts of options you can choose from and how not to kill them. At least through the holidays. This year, I thought that I would mention a few other ways to go. If you like thinking a little outside the box, or rather, outside the stocking, then these might appeal to your senses.

The Christmas tree has been synonymous with this season since Martin Luther first lit some candles and put them amongst the evergreen branches. Not exactly a safe choice, but definitely festive. So why not get a plant that resembles one. I know what you’re saying, “but I already have a tree up. That’s a terrible idea.” My response to that would be that you can never have too many Christmas trees, and that you must be some sort of grinchy scrooge to feel that way. 

If this is the way you would like to lean, then look no further than the Norfolk Island Pine! Not actually a pine tree, just resembling one, this guy makes a wonderful edition to your household. They have become quite popular to purchase this time of year and are readily available wherever you normally purchase your houseplants. Make sure to give it full sun and water on a regular basis. It also helps to mist daily, or if you really want to make it happy, have a little humidifier near it. Trust me, I live in a very dry house, and I have ended up having some dry branches when I don’t keep up on the misting. 



If the Norfolk pine doesn’t give your jingle bells a ring, then might I suggest trimming a rosemary bush into the shape of tree. In fact, this time of year, you should be able to find one already pruned up in a festive manner at a number of stores. This is a great thing to do if you had a rosemary bush in a pot for the summer and you decided to bring it in for the winter. If you don’t know what to do with all the rosemary that you get from the initial trimming, you can easily freeze it for later uses. I personally enjoy making a delicious rosemary ice cream. I just heat up my milk and sugar with a pinch of salt and then steep some rosemary sprigs for about ten minutes, covered and off the burner. Then I add my cold cream and put it into my ice cream maker. Just remember to not use any vanilla. See, now you know what to do with all that rosemary!

Another option for festive houseplants is to look into ones that are not traditionally festive at all and just have color schemes that fit into the season. Many Croton plants have beautiful foliage that have green and red color patterns. Very Christmassy! They enjoy a moist well drained soil, bright, indirect light, and hot mugs of cocoa by the fire.  Bob Vila’s website explains bright, indirect light as casting a distinct shadow with your hand that is a little fuzzy around the edges. I think that is a great way of explaining the concept. I, however, have limited space to choose from and usually just find the closest appropriate situation and hope for the best. I also don’t have a fireplace, but I have plenty of cocoa.

Bromeliads are another attractive offering that tend to have red and green coloring that will bring a tropical festiveness to your surroundings. They hail from the same family as pineapples, which makes sense when you look at them; and what screams “Happy Holidays!” like a pineapple. Like the Croton, they also require bright, indirect light, but can survive in lower light situations. If you are like me and are short on super sunny locations where you live, you might want to think about some form of grow light. I have a bunch of halo lights around my house and they have been helping me out for years now. In fact, that might be a really great thing to ask Santa for. Better hop on that lap now!

“If the Norfolk pine doesn’t give your jingle bells a ring…”

I could keep naming off houseplants, but you should just go down to your favorite plant store and see what strikes you with a seasonal glow. Do you really need a reason to go buy a new plant anyway? I have a hard time walking out of any store that sells plants without bringing one home and having to figure out where it will go. Honestly, I didn’t have much room to start, but I just keep shoving plants in wherever they will fit. I had to make room for all my Christmas village stuff and ended up having to relocate most of my plant collection. The thing is, now they all look good where I’ve moved them to. I’m increasingly worrying that when I put all my decorations away, I’m not going to move any of them back to where I had them and instead just get a whole bunch of new ones. In fact, it’s probably what I’m going to end up doing, which is fine, except that before I know it, Next year’s Holiday season will be here, and I won’t know where to put my Christmas village. These are the things that keep me up at night. 

If the idea of hoarding plants sounds distasteful to you, and you don’t want lose sleep like me over where you are going to put them all, then might I suggest not getting any new holiday plants at all. Instead, why not just decorate the ones you already have. 

There are many ways you can go about this task. A little tinsel here, a couple of fairy lights there. Before you know it, you have Christmased up the joint. However you end up trimming your houseplants, just make sure that you don’t use anything too heavy. You don’t want your festive fervor to harm your green buddies, do you?

In addition to ornaments and lights, why not pull out some wrapping paper and slap it on your pots? I have some tinsel garland in a bin in my basement that I didn’t get around to using this year that I think I’m going to go grab after I finish writing this and wrap it around my Monstera’s pot. So many design choices to go with!

Whatever way you decide to go, be it poinsettia or peperomia, it doesn’t really matter. What does is that you make the most of the season in any way that you feel comfortable. The last thing that you should do right now is worry about things that should only be bringing you joy. I know it can be a very stressful time of year, and can be too much for people to deal with. Maybe the best thing to do is bring a new plant into your life, or reappreciate the ones you already have and settle down under a cozy blanket and watch Die Hard. 



Jamiel Dado


Jamiel Dado is passionate about plants, the holidays, and wants to spread his love of gardening, and the holidays, to anyone who will listen.