I love having flowers inside the house year round, but there’s something about Christmas that makes me want to fill the home with fresh red blooming flowers!
Poinsettia AKA The Christmas Star
One of the first flowering plant that comes to mind during Christmas is the beautiful poinsettia. While we often give them around Christmas time to symbolize good will and community spirit. In religious communities, the shape of the poinsettia flower is thought to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, with the red leaves of the poinsettia symbolizing the blood of Christ.
Poinsettias are the No. 1 best-selling potted flowering plant in the U.S., with red poinsettias far outselling white and other varieties, so they are great gifts! Not surprisingly, the majority of the plant’s abundant sales happen during the six weeks before Christmas.
A poinsettia doesn’t take a lot of maintenance to be happy. However, it’s pretty picky about the amount of water it receives. Keep the soil evenly moist by thoroughly watering it and checking the soil regularly to ensure it’s not still moist when you water it again. If your poinsettia is potted in a planter with a drainage hole – it should be – it’s important to empty the tray beneath it once the plant has drained. It’s not good for the plant to sit in that stagnant water. If you’re displaying the plant in the foil-wrapped pot that it came in, simply poke a few holes in the bottom and place the pot in a tray so it can drain. Don’t fertilize the plant while there are still flowers blooming. If you plan to keep the plant in hopes of it blossoming again next year, you can fertilize it once all the petals have dropped.
A common misconception about poinsettias is that they’re poisonous to young children or pets, but while they are mildly toxic, rarely are they fatal. The rumor is largely based on the plant’s milky sap, which has been known to irritate people’s skin, especially if they have a latex allergy. Poinsettias are part of the Euphorbiaceae family of plants, many of which release a similar sap, but rest assured, parents – studies have shown that it isn’t poisonous. Poinsettias shouldn’t be eaten, though, because they’ll likely cause an upset stomach, so do your best to keep them away from young children and pets.
The Christmas cactus is a long-lasting holiday houseplant which flowers in winter with colorful, tubular flowers in pink or lilac colors.
Unlike regular cacti, however, this is not a plant from a dry, hot, desert location. Rather, this is a succulent native to tropical rain forests, where they grow on tree branches and soak up the high humidity, dappled sunlight, and warm temperatures.
Holiday cacti grow best when they are placed in a location with partial shade, such as an east or west facing window, with a temperature between 70° and 80℉.
Although the Christmas cactus doesn’t really have a traditional or official meaning attached to it. Many people like to use the longevity of the plant as a foundation for meaning. Perhaps the age it can live to could represent loyalty or resilience, since they can live up to 20 to 30 years.
Give me a kiss, Mistletoe
Mistletoe is a mysterious plant. It shows up once a year, in December, florists and nurseries selling it in bulk. We pick up a sprig, hang it above a doorway, and voilà– instant Christmas romance!
The tradition holds that a man is allowed to kiss any woman standing beneath a sprig or bouquet of Mistletoe, and vice versa. If a kiss is refused, bad luck befalls the person who said “No.”
Kissing under the mistletoe started in ancient Greece, during the festival of Saturnalia and later in marriage ceremonies, because of the plant’s association with fertility. During the Roman era, enemies at war would reconcile their differences under the mistletoe, which to them represented peace.
Mistletoe berries provide a protein-rich meal to many kinds of animals. Bees flock to mistletoe for pollen and nectar, and birds stop by to nibble and collect nesting material. Just don’t get tempted into tasting mistletoe yourself– it’s toxic to humans!