Flowers are a wonderful way to brighten any occasion. For centuries, certain plants have stood out and become associated with certain holidays or events. Lilies for Easter, Mums for Thanksgiving and roses for Valentine’s Day, but when speaking of Christmas flowers, there is a wider selection. Christmas flowers decorate trees, are given as gifts and are often nurtured to bloom at just the right time of year. Sometimes it isn’t even the kind of flower, but the color that matters. Flowers such as carnations are sometimes even dyed to match the celebration, but to be declared a “Christmas Flower” it must already be associated with the holiday. Flowers such as the Poinsettia, mistletoe and holly are recognizable flowers associated with the holiday.
Australian Christmas Plants An article on Australian native plants that have become significant as Christmas plants in Australia.
Christmas flowers an article called: Beginning to look a lot like Christmas flowers
Garden Hints an article on Flowering plants that bloom in the winter
Holiday Plants Judy Sedbrook, Colorado Master Gardener gives information on popular plants that are available at Christmas
Flowers and Greenery a listing of various Christmas flowers that you can purchase or grow yourself
The most popular Christmas plant is the Poinsettia, which is actually a flowering shrub native to Mexico and was originally called the poinsettia Cuetlaxochitl. It was named that by the Aztecs who made dye from the flowers. It is also sometimes called a lobster or flame leaf flower. The shrub can grow to the height of ten feet and is not poisonous. Many people do not understand why their Poinsettia won’t bloom at home. It is because the Poinsettia requires dark at night and light during the day to stay in cycle. In fact, depending on when you begin this cycle, your plant can bloom at different times of year other than December.
Nature Bulletin Poinsettia – The Christmas Plant
Poinsettia History, facts and care for Poinsettias
The Poinsettia A story of the Poinsettia plant, its promotion and cultivation
Another popular plant is the Mistletoe. It comes in a couple of varieties, one is native to North America and is considered a partial parasite as it usually grows on trees, although it can grow alone. The other type is native to Europe and is a green shrub with yellow flowers and sticky white berries. It grows on Apple trees, but rarely on Oak trees. Early Europeans used the Mistletoe that grows on Oaks as a ceremonial plant for fertility. The Germans and Celts also revered it, while it was thought to hold mystical powers by the Greeks. Over the years, there have been several myths and folklore associated with the plant. Today it is most often hung in doorways and people kiss when they meet under it. This action most likely originates from the Greek’s, who honored it during their festival of Saturnalia and in later years as part of primitive marriage rites.
Mistletoe An article on the plant, the traditions around it and more.
The Mistletoe Center Links, a bibliography and frequently asked questions.
Holly is strongly associated with Christmas and is usually a staple for decorating. Its bright red berries set among dark green leaves makes for a wonderful garnish to floral arrangements or it can stand alone as a decorative plant. In ancient times, Holly was a revered symbol of eternal life and a legend in Germany states the berries were white until after the crucifixion of Christ. The act of decorating with Holly has its origins in paganism. The custom was to remind the people that there was still life beneath the snow covered land. Holly grows well in some areas and is often used in people’s yards as hedges. With more than 400 species, it is also very easy to find one that works for almost any climate. Holly requires soil that is well drained, rich in organic matter and slightly acid, although some of them are self-fertilizing.
A less known favorite Christmas flower is Rosemary, it was right up there with Holly and Mistletoe until the twentieth century, but it now making a slow comeback. Rosmarinus officinalis is a hardy perennial evergreen shrub that can reach six feet tall.
Meet the holly growers Folklore; superstition and growing tips are all included in this interesting article.
For the Love of Holly Horticulture article for gardeners that would like to grow Holly.
Holly Home and garden information on the different species of Holly
Rosemary How to care for Rosemary
Two plants that don’t have a lot of history, but are popular because they may bloom around December are the Christmas cactus and the Christmas rose. The Schlumbergera bridgesii or Christmas cactus, enjoy cooler temperatures and the blooms will hold longer if they are kept from the heat. They are native to the tropics, so are not as tolerant as their desert cousins. They are also difficult to get to bloom again without some real tender loving care.
The Christmas Rose is not a plant that usually blooms at Christmas, to find one that does you have to choose one from a store that either has a bloom or is about to bloom. It is also important to realize the potential for poisoning of plant eating animals before one decides to add this plant to their home garden.
Christmas Cactus article asks: Thanksgiving cactus, Christmas cactus, Easter cactus: What’s the Difference?
Christmas cacti answers to frequently asked questions about Christmas cactus
Greenhouse Crops and Floriculture the commercial production of holiday cacti
Christmas rose a simple explanation of the plant.
Hellebores Niger images of a Christmas rose
Hellebores Niger – Christmas Rose a warning page on how the Christmas rose is poisonous to livestock and other animals