1. Christmas Cactus
Christmas cacti are a compact, bushy plant that grows an abundance of exotic, brightly coloured flowers on the end of flat, broad, fleshy, holly shaped leaves. Their blooms are available in a range of colours from the most delicate lilac hue through to a tropical hot pink, and deep holly-berry red to snow-white. They are wonderfully pretty and colourful so brighten the bleakest winter morning and can even upstage the most retro of Christmas decorations.
TLCC (Tender Loving Christmas Care):
Pleasingly, the Christmas Cactus is one of the easiest plants to look after on our Christmas list. Keep it in a warm, sunny spot and less is more with the Christmas cactus; don’t overwater as they are a succulent so hate being sat in water and let the soil almost dry out before watering again; watering fortnightly is about right. Christmas Cacti can live for many years too; just leave the plant in the same pot as they like being pot bound, fertilise monthly during the growing season (April to October), and give the plant a three-week holiday outside in late Summer to set the buds ready to flower the following Winter.
Showy bright poinsettias are hugely popular as Christmas gifts. The traditional red variety epitomises Christmas, while the equally beautiful but less iconic white version has an altogether more understated, chic quality on the Christmas table. The flowers aren’t actually blooms at all but are coloured leaves called bracts which contrast perfectly against the dark emerald leaves.
Despite being specifically grown for Winter colour, poinsettias detest the cold so keep yours in a warm, draught-free, light room but away from direct sunlight. Other than getting too cold, a poinsettias arch-nemesis is overwatering so water sparingly ensuring the plant isn’t flooded and then allow to almost dry out before you next water it. It will appreciate a fine spritz of water every now and again to keep its humidity. After Christmas, as the leaves or bracts drop away, a poinsettia can look far from its best and so, albeit with a lot of care it is possible to keep the plant alive, it’s fine to add it to the compost heap in early Spring. It gives you the perfect reason to opt for an alternative poinsettia colour the following year, reinvigorating your Christmas table design!
Hippeastrum, more commonly known as Amaryllis, are treasured for their stunning, huge, exotic-looking flowers. The blooms are available in crisp white through to the deepest red, and every shade of pink, peach and coral in-between, with bicolour varieties available too. The blooms trumpet out from a long fresh-green stem, their height and form making them perfect centrepieces for every Christmas table. Amaryllis are surprising easy and fast to grow too making them a brilliant present for even the least-green-fingered friend. A much better gift than cut flowers, an Amaryllis is both breathtakingly beautiful and flowers for 4-6 weeks, taking you right through the festive season.
Whether you buy your amaryllis as a ready-grown plant or as a bulb, simply place it in a warm room with a good supply of bright light. Insufficient light will cause your flowering beauty to go floppy so good lighting is key to a happy plant. You may need to turn the pot every few days so that the plant keeps an upright position rather than bending for light. Like the Christmas Cactus and Poinsettia, don’t over water the amaryllis, aim for little and often so that the soil is kept barely damp.
Once the flowers fade, move your amaryllis to a shaded area outside and allow it to naturally die back to its original bulb state. It’s important not to cut the foliage away as these will supply nutrients back to the bulb. Leave the bulb to go completely dormant; no watering throughout the Summer otherwise it may rot. In late Autumn, repot the bulb and resume watering, it won’t take very long for new growth to appear, followed by the wonderful blooms once again.
4. Christmas Tree
The epitome of Christmas, we suggest giving a small Christmas tree that is still rooted, that way it can be planted outside after Christmas and brought back inside the following year (until it’s too big of course, at which point, pop some outdoor fairy lights on it once the holiday season arrives and you have a beautiful Christmas display outside). We like to gift a mini-Christmas tree wrapped in a hessian sack to retain the root ball and festooned with mini baubles and nostalgic multi-coloured battery-operated LED lights.
The main thing is to make sure you don’t allow the root ball to dry out, so don’t place your plant friend in direct sunlight or next to a radiator, and make sure you water it often. Once Christmas is over, take your tree outside and plant it into the ground or keep it in a roomy, well-watered, pot in the garden. Easy!! Don’t limit your tree to Christmas neither, decorate it with ceramic hand-painted eggs to celebrate Easter or mini-pumpkin garlands for Halloween!
Naturally flowering in the cooler months, cyclamen make for a popular Christmas gift. They have masses of brightly coloured pretty flowers shooting up from densely packed foliage. Even the foliage is pretty with its lily-pad shape and variegated leaves; often in deep-green and silver. Display simply in single pots or group together with a mossy carpet and twinkling lights to create an impressive Christmas display. In the right conditions the blooms can last for well more than eight weeks.
Cyclamens thrive in a chillier environment so display them in a cool room and away from direct sun. They can be prone to rot so make sure you water them from beneath by standing the pot in water for an hour so that the compost is damp but not wet and remove any flowers or leaves which show signs of rot at once to prevent it spreading. Dead-heading the flowers regularly will encourage more to grow too.
Paperwhites are winter-flowering bulbs closely related to daffodils. They make a lovely Christmas gift due to their sweet fragrance and pretty, snow-coloured flowers.
Display paperwhites in a cool but sunny area, the hall table or a window ledge is perfect. Note that the stems are prone to toppling over if the plant gets too warm. Like other winter bulbs, keep the soil moist with regular watering and supply good drainage so that the plant isn’t left standing in water. After Christmas, let them naturally die back then store them in a dormant state in the garage. Repot in the Autumn and resume watering ready to flower once more.
The king of herbs, Rosemary with its piney, botanical smell and spikey leaves is a popular plant to gift at Christmas time. Not only does it look and smell amazing, displayed on the kitchen countertop it’s a useful herb for wintery dishes like roast meats, casseroles, and roast potatoes. Rosemary also comes in handy for many Christmas cocktails, particularly working well with gin. For the ultimate festive-hit, you can harness your inner topiary skills and try shaping your rosemary into a cone or Christmas tree shape and decorating with mini-baubles and red bows.
Rosemary are hardy little beauties that just need to be watered regularly and kept in a very sunny window. Once all frosts have past, plant Rosemary in the garden where it will thrive, with relatively little care, for years to come.
Last but not least on our list of top indoor plants to gift at Christmas, is the Hyacinth. Hyacinths are a bulb with bright green foliage that produces a spike adorned with masses of bell-shaped flowers. The blooms come in a range of pretty, pastel hues of pink, purple-blue, and white. However, it’s their intoxicating fragrance that they are prized for, making them a classic festive gift.
Like many bulbs, Hyacinths naturally flower in Spring however the growth can be sped up so that blooming occurs over the Holiday period, just look for ‘forced’ or ‘prepared’ Hyacinths. Once flowering, display the blooms in a bright but cool room. After Christmas, allow the plant to naturally die back, then store in a dormant state in a cold place like a garage. Repot the bulbs in September, water them but keep them in the dark for a few more weeks to kick start their growth. Then bring into a sunny, warm room and prepare for another fabulous Christmas display!
Still not sure what to gift a loved one then why not consider a Calthology plant subscription. Each month they will receive a beautiful hand-delivered plant in a pot or basket, together with a care card to help them get the most from their plant beauty. Over the festive period, they can be sure to receive one of our favourite Christmas plants!