Although there's no set of rules governing the appropriate use of winter flowers and plants in Christmas decorating, it might seem like using tomato plants in lieu of mistletoe or evergreen boughs is a bit strange. However, the greenhouses at the University of New Hampshire have been experimenting with dwarf tomato plants as holiday decor. So far, their findings have shown that those looking for creative ways to celebrate the season are open to using the plants in their homes.
The University's open house recently displayed a mixture of traditional holiday plants, like red and white poinsettias, with the unexpected addition of three types of dwarf tomatoes. Those involved in the growing project believe that the vegetables are a viable alternative to Christmas cacti, paperwhites and amaryllis because they're useful as well as decorative. Tomatoes fit in with the traditional red and green color scheme of Christmas, and they taste delicious to boot. After all, you can't exactly eat a poinsettia - they're poisonous.
A survey conducted by the University found that 80 percent of the visitors to the open house would consider giving tomato plants as a hostess gift this season or include them in their holiday decorations. While it would certainly be a nice thought, it remains to be seen whether or not you'd get a funny look for associating those radiant red orbs with Christmas. Ornamental chili peppers have also come into fashion for holiday decorations and gifts over recent years, but many of the brightest and most festive-looking varieties are too hot or tough to eat.
As the Christmas holiday relies mostly on tradition, it seems like holiday wreaths, Christmas cacti, poinsettias, popcorn garlands, tinsel and colorful lights are here to stay. It's much more plausible to decorate with a few boughs of evergreen and a bowl or two full of cranberries.
Of course, if you're looking to spice things up and think outside the box this year, tomatoes could certainly be interesting. People have considered stranger things, like Christmas tree decorations made out of Brussels sprouts or reindeer ornaments made out of nuts. Like the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you're willing to call dwarf tomato plants beautiful this Christmas, more power to you!