Ah, Christmas—the season of joy. And what’s more joyous for us green thumbs than surrounding ourselves with more plant life—especially when Allentown will soon be covered in snow? The holidays are already naturally filled with greenery and garland, so these festive houseplants and garden plants will fit right into your decor and bring you joy all throughout the winter season.
Beloved for their beautiful flowers and enchanting fragrance, paperwhites are a daffodil variety that are popular to grow indoors over the holidays. You can purchase paperwhite bulbs to grow yourself, or you can choose a potted paperwhite plant that has already begun to flower. Our most popular varieties are those with crisp white blooms, but you’ll also find them in shades of yellow and orange. Paperwhites need very little fuss to produce their signature trumpet-shaped blooms; all they need is water and a growing medium with excellent drainage. The easiest way to grow paperwhites from bulbs is to use decorative pebbles or polished stones instead of soil, which makes for a striking effect in clear glass vases or bowls. To grow paperwhites from the bulb, place the bulb on a thick layer of pebbles and secure it by sprinkling stones around the sides. Fill the vessel until the water line sits just below the bulb without touching it. The paperwhite will sprout roots to seek out the water, and within a matter of weeks, you’ll be enjoying their delightful, spicy scent.
When it comes to flowering bulbs we have to admit, amaryllis is definitely one of our favorites. For a tropical bulb, amaryllis are notoriously easy to grow and bloom, even up here in Pennsylvania. Their giant, lily-like blooms display stunning shades of deep red, orange, pink, and white—sometimes multicolored with more than one hue. Although they aren’t true lilies, their nickname, Belladonna lily, suits these beauties well. The best part—they only take 6-8 weeks to bloom after planting, so as long as they were planted in October, their vivid blooms should arrive just in time for Christmas! Amaryllis like to be placed in a warm place with direct light, so it’s best to keep them near a sunny, sealed window. Heat is essential for their growth and blooming, so make sure the room is kept warm (68-70°F) and there aren’t any cold drafts near your plant. Keep the soil of your budding or blooming amaryllis consistently moist. For the best blooms, feed amaryllis with a high phosphorus fertilizer, too.
The poinsettia is probably the most iconic Christmas plant there is—it’s velvety, vivid red bracts and glossy, deep green foliage fitting in with the color scheme of the season perfectly. If you’ve had the classic solid red poinsettia centerpiece for a few years now, try switching it up a little bit—there are varieties available in many shades of red, pink and white that still feel fun and festive. Some, like Marble poinsettias, have gorgeous, soft pink variegations. Although they might look best at the center of your dining room table, they should get about 6 hours of bright, indirect light daily, so move them closer to a window during the day if need be. They’ll actually enjoy the coolness near the window, as the cold helps to maintain their vibrant color. Native to the roadsides of Mexico, it’s easy to assume these tropical plants need a lot of water, but that’s actually one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Always allow the top inch of soil to dry out in between waterings, and never let them sit in a water-filled saucer.
Holly Christmas festivities aren’t exclusive to confines of your home, so neither should your holiday-themed plants! Holly is another classic holiday decoration, adding a festive accent to centerpieces, railings, wreaths, and even your Christmas tree. While you can find both artificial and fresh holly for sale, growing your own holly bush in your backyard gives you an endless supply of their festive foliage and bright red berries. With over 400 different species, holly is actually a much more diverse family than you might have thought. We might assume they all have the same, prickly, evergreen leaves, but some holly plants are actually deciduous and drop their foliage in the fall. American holly, a pyramidal, evergreen variety, has your characteristic glossy foliage and is ideal for snipping branches to decorate your home. Winterberry holly, on the other hand, provides a stunning winter display with their bright berries adorning bare branches all winter long. Just remember—you’ll need to plant both a male and female bush to make sure the female shrub will fruit. Holly can grow in full sun to partial shade and flourishes in well-drained, slightly acidic soils. Water your new holly plants often to help them settle their roots, but after they become established, you really only need to water them during dry periods in the summer. You can still mulch around the base to retain moisture in the summer, and again in the fall to retain soil temperature during the cold season.
Spruce Tree Any pyramidal evergreen tree is going to bring a festive feel to your Christmas decor and winter landscape, and spruces are some of the most popular. As typical choices for Christmas trees, evergreens like spruce, pine, and fir are icons of the season. Spruce trees, in particular, are known for their stunning symmetry and dense habit, which makes for the perfect family tree. Norway Spruce trees are especially popular in Pennsylvania with their true forest green color, while Colorado Spruce offers a wintery, blue-green hue. A couple of these in your yard will instantly add a wintery feel to your home, especially when they’re covered in snow and holiday lights.
Like most evergreens, spruce trees are pretty hardy once they’re established, but there are a few things you can do to encourage the happiest and healthiest trees. Young spruce trees will grow best in moist soils and full sun. While they can tolerate the shade, you’ll get the bushiest branches with more sunlight. Protecting your evergreens for the winter season is also important to protect them against winter burn and wind damage. Make sure you water them really well in the fall, mulch the base of the tree to moderate soil temperature, and wrap trees when necessary.
This year, when you’re decking your halls with boughs of holly, think about all the other beautiful plants you can fill your home with during the holiday season. Their fresh green foliage and conveniently-colored flowers can add a festive flair to any room. During this giving season, why not give your loved ones (or yourself) the gift of a joyful holiday houseplant? You can pick one up now through Christmas at Lehigh Valley!