15 Popular Christmas Plants and Flowers

poinsettias

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

There are several flowers, bushes, trees, and other plants that are often grown and gifted around Christmastime. These Christmas plants vary widely in both appearance and care requirements. Some are small and can be kept as potted plants indoors while others are tall trees and shrubs that require a roomy spot in the garden. But they all give off a festive vibe as living decorations during the Christmas season. If you want these plants to last through the holidays and beyond, it's important to know their specific care requirements.

Here are 15 Christmas plants to help you enjoy the holiday season.

Tip

If you want to keep Christmas plants that need lots of light healthy until you can plant them outside in the spring, consider investing in grow lights. This will supplement the sunlight that comes through your windows.

  • 01 of 15

    Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

    poinsettia on a table

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

    Subtropical plants native to Mexico, poinsettias have evolved into a symbol of Christmas because of their festive red and green colors. Also, the shape of the poinsettia's flower is said to symbolize the star of Bethlehem. Be sure not to overwater poinsettias, as they are susceptible to root rot. Water when the top 2 inches of soil feels dry, and make sure the container has adequate drainage. Also, poinsettias need lots of bright, filtered sunlight, so they don’t grow leggy.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained
  • 02 of 15

    Holly (Ilex opaca)

    holly

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

    Holly bushes always stay green and need little to no maintenance, even during the harshest winters. Plus, its branches are filled with bright red berries around Christmastime, perfect for decking the halls. In ancient times, holly was thought of as good luck because it never died, so people would send holly wreaths to friends and family. Just make sure you plant it in well-draining soil, as holly doesn’t tolerate being waterlogged. Also, the soil must be acidic, as an alkaline soil pH can cause the leaves to yellow.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, acidic, well-drained
  • 03 of 15

    Mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum)

    mistletoe

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    It's tradition to kiss under the mistletoe during the holidays. Mistletoe itself naturally gets up close and personal with other plants. It’s classified as parasitic because it attaches to a host tree via a root-like structure called a haustorium. The foliage is evergreen, and female plants will produce a plethora of white berries. Mistletoe plants require very little care, but you will need to start with a healthy, established host tree for them.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
    • Soil Needs: N/A
  • 04 of 15

    Yew (Taxus spp.)

    yew shrub

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

    Yew shrubs, with their vivid red berries and evergreen foliage, are slow-growing and low-maintenance plants. They can be used as an alternative Christmas tree, and their sprigs make lovely natural holiday decorations. Sharp soil drainage is key for growing yews. Beyond that, they don’t need much besides potentially an annual fertilization and pruning for shape.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2 to 10 (depends on variety)
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist, well-drained
    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15

    Ivy (Hedera helix)

    English ivy

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Ivy, with its festive star-like leaves, is another Christmas plant said to symbolize new growth and bring good luck by warding off evil spirits. Ivy is a popular way to decorate Christmas wreaths, and it keeps green throughout the year. Ivy has a vigorous growth habit, so much of your care might involve pruning it back to where you want it. You also can provide it with a structure for vertical growth.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained
  • 06 of 15

    Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

    A Douglas fir Christmas tree farm

    arlutz73 / Getty Images

    Many people opt for a Douglas fir to be their Christmas tree. These dark green-needled evergreens can grow several stories high in the wild, and they bear cones that are around 5 inches long. They have a fairly tight pyramidal shape, which allows them to tuck nicely into a corner like a Christmas tree. But when planting, make sure you allow plenty of space. Also, ensure that the soil remains moist but not soggy.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 6
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
  • 07 of 15

    Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi)

    Christmas cactus

    The Spruce / Kara Riley

    The Christmas cactus is an unexpected plant for the holiday season, as it lacks the common evergreen needles and bright red berries. However, its colorful flowers bloom during Christmastime, coming in shades of pink to red. Unlike many succulents, this tropical plant actually needs a fair amount of water to remain healthy; water whenever the top 2 inches of soil feel dry.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10 to 12
    • Sun Exposure: Partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist, well-drained
  • 08 of 15

    Blue Spruce (Picea pungens)

    Colorado blue spruce

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

    The blue spruce is another popular Christmas tree variety. It has a nice pyramidal shape with branches that bear green, blue-green, or silver-green needles. It also has a nice, fresh evergreen scent. Many people use blue spruce boughs in wreaths and other decorations for their natural beauty and aroma. Maintenance is minimal for these trees. Mulching around the base (but not right up against the trunk) can help to retain soil moisture.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2 to 7
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist, acidic, well-drained
    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • 09 of 15

    Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)

    Pink amaryllis flowers

    Rikuo Natsuume / Getty Images

    Amaryllis flowers are commonly grown as winter houseplants to add a pop of color to gray winter days. The plants take about six weeks after the bulbs are planted to flower. So plant in November if you want blooms around Christmastime. The trumpet-shaped blooms come in reds, pinks, and whites. As the plant is growing and flowering, water whenever the top 2 inches of soil become dry.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 8 to 10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained
  • 10 of 15

    Paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceus)

    Paperwhite flowers

    Nathan Blaney/Photodisc / Getty Images

    Paperwhites are another popular flower to grow indoors over the winter. They feature clusters of small, fragrant, snowy white blooms atop tall green stems. All you have to do is put the bulbs in a container of water and gravel, and wait for them to sprout. They take about four to six weeks from planting to blooming, so plan to start them in November for a Christmas bloom. As soon as roots start to develop, move the container to a sunny window.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 8 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist, well-drained
  • 11 of 15

    Pear Tree (Pyrus communis)

    Pear tree with fruit

    The Spruce / Kara Riley

    You might not have a partridge, but you can grow a pear tree. There are early, midseason, and late-season varieties of pear trees, which can extend your harvest into late fall and sometimes even winter depending on the climate. This is why pears are often seen in dishes around the holidays. Pear trees are generally medium-sized trees at around 30 feet tall, though there are dwarf varieties. They bear fragrant flowers that give way to the fruits. Pear trees are susceptible to disease in warm and wet weather, so make sure there’s good air flow around them and that you don’t overwater to the point where the soil is soggy.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained
  • 12 of 15

    Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)

    Balsam fir tree with dense gray-green needles on branches in wooded area

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    The balsam fir is the quintessential Christmas tree. It has a strong evergreen scent, deep blue-green needles, and a beautiful conical form. It also has good needle retention, making it ideal for wreaths too. Good soil drainage is necessary for growing balsam firs. But add mulch around the base to help retain moisture. Young trees need roughly weekly deep waterings, but established trees only need water during prolonged periods of drought.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 6
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist, acidic, well-drained
    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    Juniper (Juniperus occidentalis)

    Close up of western pine cones and needles

     Syntheticmessiah / Getty Images

    Juniper plants are associated with Christmas thanks to their evergreen needles. They also boast a lovely fragrance. There are many varieties of juniper that range from low-growing ground covers to shrubs and trees. Some people even use them as Christmas trees. Care is minimal for juniper. Young plants require evenly moist but not soggy soil, and they might need staking until they’re established to ensure they grow upright. But mature plants mostly care for themselves.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, sandy, well-drained
  • 14 of 15

    Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)

    Closeup of rosemary

    The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

    Rosemary is a frost-sensitive plant, but it’s become associated with Christmas due to people trimming it into a Christmas tree-shaped topiary. Rosemary Christmas trees look like mini fir trees, thanks to their green needled foliage. And they smell divine. Ensure that your rosemary has good drainage, and don’t water until the top few inches of soil have dried out. They like at least six hours of direct sun per day, so you might need to add grow lights indoors if you don't have a bright enough window.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 8 to 10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Sandy, loamy, well-drained
  • 15 of 15

    Yuletide Camellia (Camellia Sasanqua 'Yuletide')

    Camellia shrub

    The Spruce / Kara Riley 

    Camellia is an evergreen shrub with an oval to pyramidal shape that reaches roughly 6 to 10 feet tall and wide. It features dark green foliage and bears flowers in the winter in some climates. The Yuletide variety in particular has bright red blooms that look especially festive for the Christmas season. Plan to fertilize annually in the spring to keep your plant vigorous, and prune as needed after flowering for size and shape.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 7 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist, well-drained