Beyond Poinsettias: Fresh Holiday House Plants

Florist’s gloxinia has fallen out of vogue but has spectacular flowers in winter.

Red, green, and white–these are the common holiday colors. Poinsettias, amaryllis, paperwhites, and cyclamen–these are the common holiday plants in these colors. Why not shake it up? You can have these colors and enjoy them anew with more adventurous seasonal house plants.

Plant vendors sell all kinds of other indoor plants fit for the holidays and winter. It’s nice to include something new and just as festive but more exciting. Lots of cheery holiday plants also make long-lasting additions to the indoor garden, unlike most of the classics. (Click here to learn more about maintaining common holiday plants year-round.)

Holiday Flowering Plants

Red Guzmania (Guzmania hybrids)

Starry, red guzmania flowers can last more than three months!

The floral and foliage characteristics of this tropical plant tick off all of the holiday boxes. Their blooms are starry, red, and festive, and they are supported by splays of glossy green foliage. There are many red guzmania varieties from which to choose, which have begun to appear more often for the holidays. Ambient humidity and warmth are important for the good health of this rain forest plant. Pot up red guzmania in a well-drained potting mix with high bark content, such as Black Gold Orchid Mix.

Anthurium (Anthurium spp.)

Clean the leaves and long-lasting flowers of anthurium to keep them shiny and attractive.

Glossy, bright red flowers make anthurium a real color contender with the traditional poinsettia. Its deep green leaves are also glossy. Choose cheery varieties for window-side tabletops or less sunny, north-facing windowsills.

Varieties may be tall or small. Large, bright red, heart-shaped flowers are the glory of ‘Queen of Hearts’, which reaches up to 2-feet. Anthurium ‘Million Flowers Red’ is a shorter red-flowered variety that produces extra-small flowers in large numbers. The cutest miniature,  Anthurium ‘Baby White’, has little, white, petal-shaped blooms and only reaches 6-8 inches tall. Grab one of these, or another attractive variety, on your next trip to the garden center.

Rich, all-purpose potting soil, such as Black Gold All Purpose Potting Mix, high humidity, and warmth help anthurium bloom best. Wipe their leaves and long-blooming flowers off with a damp cloth every month or so to keep them clean and glossy.

White Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum)

White jasmine flowers are most fragrant in the evening.

Let your winter evenings be filled with the floral scent of jasmine. The white tubular flowers appear in fall or early winter and smell nicer than paperwhites. It grows as a vine and needs some pruning and training so trim as needed. Place it in a spot with bright, indirect light, and provide it with good potting soil and regular water.

Christmas Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

Calendiva flowering kalanchoes has lovely double flowers and come in many colors, including red and white. (Image by Jessie Keith)

The English call this succulent Christmas kalanchoe because its bright flowers look radiant during the holidays. The compact plants have succulent leaves and reach between 6 to 18 inches. Popular varieties are red or white, but pink, orange, and yellow bloomers are also available. Flowering typically occurs from winter to spring but can last up to 6 months.

Like most succulents, kalanchoe needs little water during the winter months. It grows best in bright, sunlit, south-facing windows. Well-drained potting mix formulated for succulents, such as Black Gold Cactus Mix, is a must.

Florist’s Gloxinia (Sinningia speciosa)

Florist’s gloxinia has huge, bell-shaped flowers.

Florist’s gloxinia deserves more attention due to its big, showy flowers. It has fallen a little out of vogue, but who knows why? The enormous, bell-shaped flowers of red and/or white (as well as purple and pink) are spectacular and will keep blooming for weeks with good care.

Grow florist’s gloxinia as you would its close relative, the African violet, and transplant it into Black Gold African Violet Mix. (Click here to learn more about growing African violets (and gloxinia).)

Holiday Foliage Plants

When it comes to house plants with festive foliage, there are many to come by that will consistently look good all year. In summer, they can even be brought outdoors to liven up the patio.

Silver Queen Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema ‘Silver Queen’)

Aglaonema silver Queen with a small number of green areas on the leaves

The textural ‘Silver Queen’ has boldly marked leaves of white and green. The 1-2-foot lush plants are shade-loving and originate from the humid tropics and subtropics of Asia where they survive in the forest understory. Give them a good, water-holding potting mix like Black Gold® Waterhold Cocoblend Potting Mix.

Two Tone Moonstone Red Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema ‘Two Tone Moonstone’)

Arguably the prettiest of the Aglaonema hybrids, ‘Two Tone Moonstone’ leaves are mottled with white and green and have pinkish-red stripes down each leaf. Grow it as you would ‘Silver Queen’.

T REX™ St. Nick Rex Begonia (Begonia T REX™ St. Nick)

T REX™ St. Nick provides a whirlwind of color. (Image thanks to Terra Nova Nurseries)

Introduced by Terra Nova Nurseries, T REX™ St. Nick provides a whirlwind of color. Its large, toothed leaves are dark greenish-purple with specklings of pinkish-white and bold streaks of pink and red. Pink flowers bloom in fall. Lightly moist fertile potting soil (like our All-Purpose Potting Mix), average humidity, and filtered light will keep it happy. Be sure not to overwater it in winter.

Mammy Croton (Codiaeum ‘Mammy’)

Flower leaves of Codiaeum variegatum. Close up Green croton plant surrounded by red crotons.


If you want a serious pop of color in your home, then grow the 2-3 foot croton ‘Mammy’. Its wavy, linear leaves are mottled with red, orange, and purple, and new growth is green and yellowish. Ironclad croton are very easy to grow if given large enough pots with well-drained potting soil (our Natural & Organic Potting Mix is a good choice), regular water, and average humidity. Wipe or rinse off the leaves from time to time to keep them dust-free.

Stay with the holiday color palette but break beyond the mold when it comes to holiday house plant choices. There are so many other jolly plants to enjoy through the season.