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Holiday Houseplants

By Paul James

Poinsettias are the undisputed king of holiday houseplants. That’s a given. But they usually wind up in the trash soon after the new year. Thankfully, however, there are several beautiful holiday houseplants that offer great color and with proper care can last for years. Here are some of our customer favorites, with tips on how to keep them flourishing.

African Violets

Hard to beat, and not hard to grow if you treat them right.

Light: East or west facing windows are best, or grow under lights. They need 10 to 14 hours of light a day.

Humidity: Maintain high humidity by growing on saucers filled with moist pebbles. 

Watering: Keep soil moist to the touch, but avoid watering leaves.

Temperature: Household temps are fine.

Fertilizer: Don’t overdo it. Use a product specifically formulated for African Violets.

Comments: Propagate new crowns, or cut leaves with stems attached and stick the stems in moist potting mix.

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The colorful, waxy “flowers” of these tropical beauties are actually modified leaves that are both beautiful and long lasting. 

Light: The brighter the better, but no direct light.

Humidity: Mist often, daily if possible. Great for kitchens and bathrooms.

Watering: Spring and summer, keep soil evenly moist but not soggy. Fall and winter, water only when the top two inches of soil is dry. Overwatering causes yellow leaf tips, while underwatering turns them brown.

Temperature: 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fertilizer: Monthly in spring and summer at one-third the recommended rate. 

Comments: Remove flowers as they fade to encourage more blooms.

Shop Anthuriums


These babies are among the most popular of all tropical houseplants, and with good reason.

Light: Bright light is best.

Humidity: Mist often.

Watering: Keep soil moist but not soggy. Water the “cup” in the center of the leaves routinely.

Temperature: Household temps are fine.

Fertilizer: None required.

Comments: Don’t water with a metal can, as Bromeliads are extremely sensitive to metals.

Shop Bromeliads


These popular Mediterranean plants typically bloom for about eight weeks, but they’re worth it. 

Light: The brighter the better.

Humidity: Do not mist the leaves. Instead, maintain high humidity by setting the pot on a saucer filled with pebbles. Keep pebbles moist at all times.

Watering: Carefully water the base of the plant, NOT the leaves. Keep soil evenly moist.

Temperature: The cooler the better, as in 50 to 65 degrees.

Fertilizer: Every two weeks while in bloom.

Comments: After the bloom period, let the plant — including the leaves — dry out completely. Dig up the bulb (actually it’s a corm), store in a cool, dry place, and repot in midsummer.

Shop Cyclamen


Waxy leaves and bright flowers make these carefree succulents an ideal choice for folks who don’t have a green thumb.

Light: Bright light is best.

Humidity: Dry air is okay.

Watering: Water once a week in spring and summer, but always err on the dry side. In fall and winter, just a splash every two weeks.

Temperature: Average room temp is fine.

Fertilizer: Every two to three weeks with a cactus fertilizer at half strength.

Comments: Keep in mind that these plants are succulents, so treat them accordingly.

Shop Kalanchoe


There are lots of different orchids out there (22,000 species!), and their needs differ. Here I’m referring to the most popular, Moth Orchids in the genus Phalaenopsis.

Light: Bright, as in a south or east window.

Humidity: High. Mist often or set on a saucer filled with pebbles.

Watering: Once a week or so. Too much water will lead to root rot.

Temperature: Indoor temps are fine, but warmer is better.

Fertilizer: Once a week with a fertilizer made for orchids.

Comments: Once flowers fade, remove the flower spike, cutting it back to the base of the plant.

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Happy gardening, ya’ll. And Merry Christmas!

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