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Undoubtedly, the Christmas tree is the centerpiece of most holiday flora, and usually, this package arrives as either an artificial model or a “real” tree that has been cut down. For those who want to live a little more sustainably, it might be worth getting a “real” tree that is potted, still alive, and able to be planted outside after the holiday season.

Of course, common Christmas trees don’t grow just anywhere. Most require at least a somewhat temperate climate, so it is important to choose one suitable for where it’s going to be planted.

  • Blue spruce (Zones 2-7),
  • Douglas fir (Zones 4-6),
  • Balsam fir (Zone3-6)
  • Fraser fir (Zone 4-7)
  • Eastern white pine (Zones 3-8)
  • Redcedar (Zones 2-9),
  • Leyland Cypress (Zones 6-10)

All of this, however, is to say that Christmas trees are not the only plants that can put us in the holiday spirit! There are loads of plants, living plants at that, that make the holiday season sparkle just a little bit more.

Holiday Plants for Inside

Source: MIgardener/YouTube

Dating back to the pagan celebrations that were reimagined as Christmas, people have brought boughs of greenery inside during the winter to feel more upbeat. With the magic of modern times, we now have all sorts of live options.

  1. Christmas Cactus – A succulent, but not an actual cactus, the Christmas cactus is a fun holiday plant. It thrives at typical indoor temperatures (around 70 degrees), and it blooms right around the holidays. They are also easy to multiply and give as gifts later on.
  2. Poinsettias – It’s almost embarrassing to include poinsettias on this list because it is so obvious. However, they are too lovely to disregard. The problem with poinsettias is that they have very specific growing conditions, namely a temperature that never gets hot or cold. But, it can be kept as a houseplant. Getting it to bloom again, however, takes some finagling.
  3. Ivy – Providing that lovely sweeping, dangling décor that suggests garland, ivy is a good houseplant for the wintertime. It’s very easy to care for, and it’s one of those plants that’s a bit too aggressive to grow outside a pot without risking it getting out of control.
  4. Paperwhites – Several bulb flowers can be grown inside and timed to bloom at Christmas. Paperwhites are particularly lovely. They can be planted outdoors as well (Zones 3-8), but they won’t bloom until spring in the cold. Indoors, they can be cajoled into blooming early.
  5. Rosemary – In some climates, rosemary will survive outside year-round, but that’s not realistic for about half of the states. Never mind, it grows well in a pot, providing a conifer look with green needles and that wonderful aroma. Toss some in Christmas dinner.

Holiday Plants for Outside

Source: Identify that Plant/YouTube

Of course, not all holiday plants have to be inside plants. There are lots of evergreens that can beautify the yard, provide some color in the winter, and smack of the holiday feeling.

  1. Holly – Sprigs of holly is often cut and included in wreaths or brought indoors, but we could have the live plants growing outside, too. They have waxy evergreen leaves and vibrant berries that appear in winter. American holly, inkberry holly, and yaupon holly are good native-US choices to try.
  2. Juniper – It’s an evergreen with charming little powdery blue berries, and it comes in many shapes and sizes. Creeping juniper can be a good choice for rock gardens or groundcover. Gold cone juniper is very much like a Christmas tree and has berries that can be used to make gin or medicinal teas.
  3. Wintergreen – A berry with a familiar flavor, wintergreen produces very strongly flavored red berries. It has waxy evergreen leaves. It’s a slow-spreading groundcover that needs little light and survives from Zone 3-8.
  4. Yew – In some form or fashion, yew trees are found in cold temperate climates to tropical mountains. They are evergreen conifers that produce cones and red berries. They come in numerous shapes and sizes.
  5. Yuletide Camelia – Possibly the warm temperate climates answer to tropical poinsettias, the Yuletide camellia puts out bright red blooms right before the holiday season. It’s a shrub with dark, evergreen leaves. They survive in climate zone ranging between 7 and 10.

Natural Decorations Are Best!


It’s a wonderful thing to have natural decorations, even better if they are living. Not only do they create a nice holiday, but they keep on giving throughout the year. Plus, the more we can appreciate and foster these living things for their ability to bring joy, the less will rely on artificial stuff to do it. That’s better for us and the world.

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