WASHINGTON GARDENER: Plants for the Holiday Season

Holiday season blooms at the U.S. Botanic Garden.Holiday season blooms at the U.S. Botanic Garden.

by Kathy Jentz


As we get wrapped up in hectic holiday preparations over the next month, thoughts of gardening go out the window. Here is a tip to indulge your neglected plant-lust and get a bunch of items on your holiday “to do” list addressed in fell swoop — plants are the perfect gift! With one trip to your favorite garden center or nursery, you can give everyone on your gift list a beautiful, easy-to-care-for holiday plant that they will treasure.

 Package your plant gifts in a pretty pot or tie on a fancy bow. Be sure to attach care instructions and an offer to help those with a self-described “black thumb.” Plant gifts should not be a burden, but instead a long-lasting gift that reminds the recipient of the giver for years to come.

 Here are some traditional and not-so-traditional holiday season plants to consider buying for gifts or your own holiday décor:

                • Amaryllis (Amaryllis hippeastrum)

                • Bleeding Heart Plant (Clerodendrum thomsoniae)

                • Bromeliad (Bromeliad guzmania ‘Claret’)

                • Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii).

                • Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum)

                • Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger)

                • Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)

                • Jerusalem Cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum)

                • Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

                • Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)

                • Orchid (Phalaenopsis amabilis)

                • Ornamental Pepper (Capsicum annuum)

                • Paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta)

                • Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

                • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

                • Stromanthe (Stromanthe sanguinea ‘Triostar’ or ‘Tricolor’)


Don’t forget that ANY bulb can be forced now in time for the holidays or gift giving. You could create a red/white/green themed pot of tulips or go for trendy holiday decor color combos such as pink and deep purple tones. See the “Indoor Bulb Forcing” article in the November 2010 issues of the VOICE for full instructions.

Amaryllis in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden’s greenhouses.

Amaryllis in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden’s greenhouses.

 You may be seeing those painted or glittered poinsettias in stores around town. Why not DIY (do it yourself) and apply spray glue and glitter to inexpensive ornamental cabbage, kale, gourds, squash, pansies, or amaryllis? This could be a fun family activity especially for young children as there is no “wrong” way to throw on the glitz.

 In the greater DC metro area, Mother Nature is winding down her more flamboyant outdoor activities and taking a much needed break for the winter. While she heads south, we gardeners head inside to our catalogs and online searches to dream about expanding our planting beds in the next growing year. We console ourselves with a bit of indoor gardening. Don’t forget in all the holiday rush to buy a new indoor plant or two for yourself as well as many of the loved ones on your gift list.

About the author:

Kathy’s own holiday plant collection includes several amaryllis, paperwhites, and hellebores. She is editor of Washington Gardener magazine (www.WashingtonGardener.com) and a long-time DC area gardening enthusiast.  

Photo credits:

Kathy Jentz, Washington Gardener Magazine

#1:Holidayseason blooms at the U.S. Botanic Garden’s annual holiday exhibit, Seasons Greenings, include red poinsettia and white cyclamen. This popular exhibit includesWashingtonlandmark buildings all created with plant materials.

#2: Amaryllis in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden’s greenhouses.


About the Author

Kathy Jentz
Kathy Jentz is editor of Washington Gardener magazine and is a long-time DC area gardening enthusiast. Washington Gardener is all about gardening where you live. She can be reached at @WDCgardener on Twitter and welcomes your local DMV gardening questions.