Lifestyle

Ten festive houseplants to suit your home style and personality

Whether you are a traditionalist, prefer minimalist styles or want a riot of colour in your house this Christmas, festive houseplants will add elegance and glamour to your home.

There are so many to choose from – and here’s your chance to leaf through 10 of the best, to get you into the Christmas spirit and provide festive inspiration…

1. For traditionalists… Poinsettia

By far the most popular houseplant in this country – and available in shades ranging from traditional red to pink, cream and white and even variegated (check out ‘Red Glitter’, a red and cream combination) – the poinsettia brings plenty of colour to the Christmas scene.

It can, however, be temperamental if you put it in the wrong place. Keep the plant draught-free in bright, indirect light and don’t overwater, or the colourful bracts will soon fall.

The rule of thumb is to wait until the soil feels dry and then water, but never leave water in the bottom of the pot or the roots will be flooded.

Claire Bishop, senior houseplant buyer for Dobbies Garden Centres (dobbies.com) recommends layering poinsettias in with different warm-toned plants such as Sansevieria cylindrica and Anthurium Red for a full, vibrant effect.

2. For colourful characters… Christmas cactus

These eye-poppingly colourful plants come in a wealth of colours, from fuchsia pinks to oranges, whites and yellows – and everything in between. Perfect if you’re not a fan of the classic red and green festive look.

The big advantage of these bright candidates is they thrive even if you’re a bit neglectful in the cooler months, provided they get plenty of indirect winter light and you don’t overwater them.  They benefit from being misted every few days, and will need to rest in a cooler room after flowering to boost chances of blooming again.

Flowers may appear in late winter, so will keep the festivities going after Christmas is over.

3. For clean air addicts… Anthurium (Flamingo lily)

These elegant plants with deep green shiny leaves and striking red, white or pink flowers should be given pride of place in any festive household. They’re also effective at removing formaldehyde and ammonia from the air, according to a NASA clean air study.

They like warmth (but don’t put them next to a radiator), plenty of indirect light and high humidity, so a steamy bathroom might be the place for them. Alternatively, mist them regularly.

4. For houseplant killers… Kalanchoe

These pretty plants with succulent leaves and clusters of long-lasting flowers are ideal for the houseplant enthusiast who can’t seem to keep anything alive.

They’re available everywhere, from supermarkets to garden centres, can be added easily to Christmas plant displays to fill gaps and add colour, and hardly need any looking after.

Give them plenty of good light in normal room temperatures which don’t drop much below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), and allow the compost to partly dry out between watering. In winter, water them sparingly from the bottom.

Make sure you buy them when the flowers are in bloom, as those which just present buds may not bloom.

5. For scent lovers… Madagascar jasmine (Stephanotis floribunda)

Unlike the more compact star jasmine, with its small leaves and fragile stems, the Madagascar variety is a more striking plant for Christmas, with its deep green glossy leaves and large droopy white buds, opening to reveal beautifully scented flowers.

In the wild it’s a flowering vine, so you can trail it wherever, but if you want it uniform, trail it around a large wire circle and weave a few warm white fairy lights around it for a festive effect.

It likes a light position, but not where it’s draughty. When it’s flowering, keep the soil damp – but not saturated – and don’t let the roots sit in water.

6. For modernists… Paperwhite narcissi

These fragrant narcissi bring height and structure to Christmas plant displays, pairing well with sprigs of wood such as silver birch and lower-growing greenery, or moss to line the pot.

They’re ideal candidates for those who yearn for spring and for cool, minimalist customers who want structure and a subtle white palette.

For a smaller display, half fill a glass vase with pebbles, stones or gravel, and you can plant the flowering paperwhites in it. Each flower spike has up to 15 flower heads.

7. For minimalists… Moth orchid (Phalaenopsis)

They have become much more common in the last decade, but the white moth orchid still spells elegance when positioned in a stylish pot.

Water them thoroughly about once a week, and let the water drain out of the pot on a draining board before putting them back into their containers.

James Folger, founder of online garden retailer The Stem (thestem.co.uk), says: “They crave high humidity and bright indirect light, so an east or west facing bathroom or kitchen is perfect.”

8. For low-maintenance fans… Succulent mix

Two pots of indoor succulents (Alamy/PA)

Succulents are ideal for people with little time or space, but who still want some plant colour over the festive season – carrying on beyond the New Year.

Rich, red houseleeks (sempervivums) can be grown inside or out, while other succulents including mini agaves, aloes and echeverias offer a palette of colours from lush deep greens to ruby reds, ideal for terrariums or mixed pots for the festive season.

They need plenty of light, a really gritty compost – such as a cactus mix potting soil – and very little water over the winter.

9. For exotic enthusiasts… Bromeliad guzmania ‘Hope’

Bromeliad guzmania ‘Hope’ (Alamy/PA)

These striking houseplants, with their eye-catching scarlet flowerheads and white-tipped petals, sport a more tropical look than other conventional Christmas plants. They offer longevity, as the glossy green leaves will provide interest throughout the year.

They’re easy to look after, too, as long as you keep them warm, with minimum temperatures of 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) – let the soil dry out between watering and don’t overwater.

10. For statement makers… Pineapple plant (Ananas comosus)

Pineapple plant (Dobbies Garden Centres/PA)

Wow your dinner guests by placing these exotic beauties in an area where their small fruits are going to be admired, along with their tropical-looking leaves.

These types produce fruits that are not for eating – they are extremely bitter – so just grow them for their novelty value.

Bishop suggests: “This striking houseplant is happiest on a sunny windowsill and needs little care, with year-round foliage meaning it’ll look fantastic well past the festive season. Style it in a gold pot to add glamour and style to your tablescape this Christmas.”




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