Top 5 Festive Houseplants for the Holidays

Updated on April 20, 2023

Let’s face it… Minnesota winters can be a bit dreary. The sights and sounds of the holidays certainly add some color and cheer to the relentless cold, but they don’t offer much for those of us with a green thumb. Yet just because our gardens are taking a little time off doesn’t mean we have to. Below are 5 festive indoor plants that will wow your guests and bring the garden into your home during the drab winter months.  

1. Poinsettias

Quite possibly the most quintessential holiday plant, poinsettias are an obvious addition to the list. They come in many different colors and patterns. From white to vibrant pink to rich scarlet, poinsettias can fit almost any décor. Although they are most common as a holiday plant, poinsettias can be kept year-round. Getting them to ‘rebloom’ the next year requires careful manipulation of the light they receive and can be a fun challenge. Keep your poinsettias well watered with good drainage.  

Fun Fact: Poinsettias are native to Mexico and grow 8’ tall in the wild. 

2. Christmas | Easter | Thanksgiving Cactus

Although very similar in appearance, the Christmas Cactus, Easter Cactus, and Thanksgiving Cactus are different (although closely related) members of the cacti family. With modern plant breeding, there are many different bloom colors available including pink, white, red, yellow, and purple. The main difference is their bloom time which generally corresponds with their name. Known as short-day plants, they require a significant amount (more than 12 hours) of darkness per day to set blooms. This makes them particularly well suited for the short days we get here in Minnesota. Other than the unique light requirements, holiday cacti are considered easy to care for. Bright, indirect light and watering when the top 2-3 inches of soil are dry will set you up for success.  

3. Amaryllis

I challenge you to find a plant that is easier to grow than waxed amaryllis. The bulb comes dipped in wax and contains all the water and energy it needs to grow and bloom. Yes, you heard right. You do not have to plant or water waxed amaryllis. The bulbs are free-standing and need only be placed on a flat surface. They grow 12-24 inches tall and produce showy blossoms that come in many colors – the most popular being red and white. You can also get amaryllis bulbs unwaxed which can be potted and grown year-round.  

Amaryllis Bud
Amaryllis Bud
Amaryllis Bloom

4. Paperwhites

Paperwhites are another easy-to-grow, low-maintenance bulb that requires little more than water to grow. Often you will see paperwhites grown in clear glass containers with pebbles, rocks, or glass stones, rather than soil. This creates a unique look that provides the opportunity for creativity. Paperwhites are also known for their pleasant, floral fragrance. Typically found in lighter whites and yellows, paperwhites bloom for 2-3 weeks. Unlike others on this list, it is not recommended to try and rebloom paperwhites. After they bloom, you are safe to compost them.  

5. Norfolk Pine

Norfolk Pine can be tricky but incredibly rewarding. For starters, they are not actually pine trees. Nor are they hardy like pines. They cannot withstand freezing temperatures and therefore are only suited for indoor cultivation in Minnesota. You often see them sold as miniature, table-top Christmas trees during the holidays. But like many holidaythemed plants, they can be kept year-round. The most important care factors are sunlight and humidity. Keep your Norfolk pine in bright, direct sunlight (like a south-facing window) and use a humidifier to raise the humidity in the winter months. Well cared for, a Norfolk pine can live indoors for many years.  

Norfolk Pine Close up

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