The 12 plants of Christmas: the most popular festive flowers

Christmas themed flowers won’t just make a lovely gift for you to give to that special someone during the festive season. In fact, Christmas plant displays can also be the perfect way of adding an extra hint of magic and sparkle to your premises when decorating your home and business for Christmas.

From more traditional festive favourites such as mistletoe and holly, to the classic poinsettia (which is also known as the Christmas Flower), and even a few less conventional options, such as Green Ivy and the Christmas Cactus, PHS Greenleaf has rounded-up a few of our favourite festive flowers, so you can find out more about where they come from, and why they’ve become so synonymous with Christmas.

Without further ado, here are the 12 Plants of Christmas…

Mistletoe - the most popular festive plants and flowers


1. Mistletoe

Mistletoe is famous for being the sneaky little festive plant you can often find hiding in doorways, and if you’re lucky, you might just get a kiss if you find yourself standing underneath it (thanks to the Norse goddess, Frigga). However, despite its pretty appearance and association with an affectionate gesture, Mistletoe berries are actually toxic to humans!

2. Poinsettia

Most of us probably know this plant as the Christmas Flower, and it’s instantly recognisable due to its pointed red bracts and rich red and green leaves. Originally native to Central America, Poinsettia has become a symbol of the festive season due to a Mexican legend where a poor girl’s present to Jesus (a bouquet of weeds) transformed into the bright red flowers we now call Poinsettia. Handy tip when purchasing your Poinsettia plant, never buy one if they are in draughty, cold supermarket or garden centre; they will drop their leaves as soon as you unwrap them from the protective cellophane. Poinsettias need a minimum temperature of 60ºC.

3. Christmas Cactus

Also known as the Thanksgiving Cactus or by its botanical name, Schlumbergera, the Christmas Cactus flowers throughout December if its need for cooler temperatures and regulated light/darkness levels are adopted by late autumn. This makes it a great addition to any workplace in winter, as well as the fact that it’s relatively easy to care for if it receives the right amount of water and light exposure.  Beware giving too much water as the newly formed buds will drop off before they develop and flower.

Poinsettia - the most popular festive plants and flowers


4. Cyclamen

Like the Christmas Cactus, Cyclamen thrives in cooler temperatures, so its bright blooms and beautiful heart-shaped leaves (which sometimes have silver running through their foliage) are a great choice if you want to add some colour to your home or workplace at Christmas.  Cyclamen is also very versatile, with its colour variations including pretty pinks, reds, and white.  Be careful not to let your Cyclamen sit in water as this will cause the stems to rot.  They don’t mind a certain amount of dryness around the roots.

5. Holly

Do as the classic Christmas Carol says, and deck your halls with boughs of Holly now that Christmas is around the corner once again! However, did you know that before this plant became a symbol of Christmas, it was a considered to be a sacred plant by Druids, who wore crowns of Holly.

6. Azalea

Although it can be overlooked in favour of other festive plants and flowers, Azalea’s bright colours and large open blooms make them difficult to ignore. The perfect addition to indoor planting displays for Christmas, Azaleas are sad to represent passion, elegance, abundance and taking care of yourself and your loved ones.

7. Christmas Rose

Despite the resemblance it bears to wild roses and the fact that it’s known as the Christmas Rose, this delicate evergreen perennial is actually quite deceptive; in fact, it’s a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. Nonetheless, the Christmas Rose is still revered during the festive season for the deep green foliage and delicate white flowers it brings to cold, dark winters.

Azalea - the most popular festive plants and flowers


8. Paperwhites

The Paperwhite is a type of Narcissus that is native to the western Mediterranean region including Greece, Portugal, and Morocco, though it is also naturalised in some areas of the United States. Often encouraged to flower at Christmas, Paperwhites are a popular choice for festive centrepieces because of their strongly fragranced blooms.

9. Amaryllis

Because it naturally flowers in both spring and winter, Amaryllis is another festive plant that’s proven to be a favourite time and time again. This is most likely thanks to the vibrant bell-shaped flowers the plant produces, which are available in variations of red and white and even a combination of the two as well as pretty pink and peach. These give Amaryllis an exotic edge over other conventionally festive plants and flowers.

10. White Chrysanthemums

As the Chrysanthemum symbolises optimism and joy, it’s no surprise that it’s come to be synonymous with ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. However, White Chrysanthemums are also brought into German homes on Christmas Eve because of an old legend in which a peasant family ushers a beggar man in from the cold. Claiming to be the Christ Child, he then fled, leaving two of the flowers behind.

11. Rosemary

Despite the leaves of this fragrant herb being popular in cooking, Rosemary is also commonly used in Christmas displays and decorations. In fact, it’s been used during the festive season since as far back as the 16th century. Not only do its pretty white, pink, blue, and purple flowers add a hint of colour and interest, but its thin needle-like leaves will also enable the Rosemary plant to be pruned into the shape of a Christmas tree!

12. Green Ivy

Christmas Rose - the most popular festive plants and flowers

Christmas Rose

Although it has a bit of a reputation for covering the floors and walls of gardens with its creeping vines, ivy is actually a very popular plant during the Christmas period. This is because its distinctively-shaped, rich green leaves are often a key component of floral wreaths and other festive decorations. Not only that, but ivy leaves are also said to represent the shape of Christ’s crown of thorns.

Did you know? Indoor plants aren’t just for Christmas! To find out more about the range of real and artificial office plants from PHS Greenleaf, contact us today.