The 17 Best Christmas Plants to Decorate Your Home

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Whether you live in a tiny apartment or rambling house in the country, there’s always room for one more houseplant. Fact. Traditional Christmas plants, such as poinsettias and holly, have the advantage of providing seasonal color and beauty without a whole lot of effort on your part.

Plus, if you don’t have the time or space to put up a tree—or if you just want to bring a little holiday cheer to any room of the house—these Christmas plants will allow you to deck the halls with minimal fuss. Many of these can live for decades (yes, decades!) with the right care. Here are our top picks, from the traditional to the unexpected:

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best christmas plants to decorate your home norfolk island pine
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1. Norfolk Pine

  • Why We Love It: Ideal tiny tree, looks festive decorated or bare

These charming trees have soft needles and a delicate shape. They come in tabletop or floor-sized versions, too. Their limbs won’t take heavy ornaments, so stick with fairy lights or mini baubles if you want to decorate them. Give them bright light, and keep them lightly moist (and never let them sit in water!), and they’ll last for years.

best christmas plants to decorate your home christmas cactus
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2. Christmas Cactus

  • Why We Love It: A long bloom time extends the holiday cheer

Often mistaken for its relatives Thanksgiving cactus and Easter cactus (named for the holidays closest to their bloom times), Christmas cacti have tear-dropped or rounded stems with purplish-brown, pollen-bearing anthers on the flowers. Actually, most of the holiday cacti you find this time of year are Thanksgiving cactus, but no worries: Care is the same. This long-lived plant that can endure for decades if treated right. Give it bright indirect light, and water when the soil surface feels dry. To get it to rebloom next year, give it total darkness (no night lights or streetlights) from September onward.

christmas plants to decorate your home poinsettia
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3. Poinsettia

  • Why We Love It: Easy to care for, iconic holiday plant

You’ll find these plants in amazing colors ranging from the classic Christmas red to cream, pink, spotted and everything in between. Choose poinsettias that have lots of bright yellow cyathia (those little yellow things in the center), which indicates how fresh the plant is. Water when the top feels dry, and don’t worry about light levels: Place it anywhere in the house to enjoy, then compost after the holidays (Trust us: It’s not worth trying to get it to rebloom next year). Also, contrary to what you’ve heard, it’s not poisonous to pets—but do keep it out of your fur baby’s reach, because ingesting it can cause vomiting and GI distress.

best christmas plants to decorate your home frosty fern
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4. Frosty Fern

  • Why We Love It: The frosted foliage looks like a dusting of snow

These adorable little plants actually are a type of moss, not a fern at all. But their delicate lacey foliage, lightly frosted with white, makes them a natural fit for holiday decorating. They’re a bit fussy though, so don’t expect them to last long indoors. Give them bright, indirect light and keep slightly moist (not soaking wet). And whatever you do, do not let them dry out or it’s buh-bye, frosty fern.

best christmas plants to decorate your home amaryllis
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5. Amaryllis

  • Why We Love It: Striking flower that makes a dramatic, no-fuss centerpiece

This exotic-looking flower often come as part of a gift set with the bulb, pot and planting medium. That’s probably because caring for it is so straightforward: Water it, set it in a bright window and wait 6 to 8 weeks to enjoy the tall, gorgeous blooms. (Pro tip: Rotate the pot daily so your plant won’t lean one way.) You can save the bulb for next year, though it takes effort to get it to rebloom. Keep this one away from pets because all parts of amaryllis are toxic.

best christmas plants to decorate your home cyclamen
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6. Cyclamen

  • Why We Love It: Graceful leaves and delicate flowers

Cyclamen has delicate heart-shaped leaves and flowers that are pure white, pink or red. It’s grown as a groundcover in warm climates but makes a lovely, long-blooming houseplant in winter. Give it bright light and water when dry. You can compost this or hang onto it for next year, though it will go dormant and die back over the summer. Cyclamen is toxic to pets, so keep it out of your cat or dog’s reach.

best christmas plants to decorate your home rosemary
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7. Rosemary

  • Why We Love It: Edible and handsome plant with a pine-y fragrance

This practical herb is often sheared into a topiary or Christmas tree shape for the holidays. Enjoy its pine-like fragrance all winter long, and snip off bits for soups, stews and sauces. Give rosemary plenty of bright light, and let it dry out a bit between watering. Plant it outdoors in spring if you live in a warm climate, or keep it as a houseplant for years.

best christmas plants to decorate your home dwarf alberta spruce
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8. Dwarf Alberta Spruce

  • Why We Love It: Ideal evergreen for outdoor decorating

This dwarf evergreen makes the perfect tiny Christmas tree. Flank your front door with these decked out in tiny white lights. It’s very cold hardy and can be planted outdoors in the spring. Water occasionally when dry, and keep it away from heating vents indoors.

best christmas plants to decorate your home paperwhite narcissus
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9. Paperwhite Narcissus

  • Why We Love It: Elegant flowers

These bulbs—usually found in a gift set with the pot and planting medium, like amaryllis—have a very strong scent (that some people love and others hate). Put them in bright light, water them and wait for the blooms to appear in four to six weeks. Bulbs that are “forced” for winter blooms usually won’t bloom again, so put these in the compost bin when the flowers fade. They’re also toxic to pets.

best christmas plants to decorate your home leyland cypress
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10. Leyland Cypress

  • Why We Love It: Perfect petite tree for decorating

These are another evergreen that make a charming Christmas tree when small. Their natural pyramidal shape looks amazing on either side of your front door, and it can be planted in the spring when the ground thaws. Evergreens are dormant in winter, but water when slightly dry when indoors or if it’s under the eaves and not receiving occasional precipitation outdoors.

best christmas plants to decorate your home lavender
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11. Lavender

  • Why We Love It: Soothing scent and long-lived plant

Lavender may not seem very Christmas-y, but its soothing scent and lovely grey-green foliage adds a soothing accent to any room all winter long. Give it very bright light, water when it feels dry to the touch, and enjoy it for years indoors or out once spring arrives.

best christmas plants to decorate your home anthurium
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12. Anthurium

  • Why We Love It: Bright red long-lasting blooms

It’s not traditionally associated with Christmas, but its bright red blooms offer plenty of long-lasting color. Anthurium likes bright light (it will tolerate low light but not bloom). Keep the soil lightly moist, and put it where curious fur babies can’t take a nibble, because anthurium is toxic to pets.

Christmas plants Holly
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13. Holly

  • Why We Love It: Beautiful red berries, festive look

You’ll rarely see holly sold as a gift plant, but there are many different kinds of hollies that will thrive in your yard. One of the most striking is winterberry holly, a deciduous holly and native shrub that you (and any nearby birds) will enjoy for years. The foliage drops, but the bright red berries persist all winter long, making a striking contrast against snow. You’ll be able to snip off a few branches for holiday decor too.

All hollies require a male and female plant for cross-pollination to set fruit, so read the tag and make sure you have one of each in order to enjoy the berries.


14. Orchid

  • Why We Love It: Long bloom time for winter color and cheer

The elegant blooms of the moth orchid come in many different colors, and they bloom for months. They’re also not as fussy as you think. Give them bright, indirect light, and water every week to 10 days, and you’ll see them thrive.

Christmas Plants Lemon Cypress

15. Lemon Cypress

  • Why We Love It: Natural Christmas tree form and light, citrusy scent

You’ll often see these cute trees available around the holidays. They have a golden hue and citrusy scent. Give them tons of bright light (a grow light is ideal), and keep the soil evenly moist or they tend to suffer.

Christmas Plants Wintergreen
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16. Wintergreen

  • Why We Love It: Foliage has a peppermint scent when crushed between your fingers

The refreshing, classic wintergreen scent is invigorating. Plus, this groundcover is a native plant with attractive berries. It’s not always easy to find, but it’s a lovely addition to your holiday display. Give it bright, indirect light and keep the soil evenly moist, not sopping. Bonus: It can be planted outdoors when it warms up.

Christmas Plants Calamondin Citrus Tree

17. Calamondin Citrus Tree

  • Why We Love It: Thoughtful gift and beautiful long-lived plant with edible fruit

Citrus trees are easier to grow than you think, and the calamondin is one of the easiest. With its fragrant white flowers year-round, and beautiful glossy green foliage-- not to mention inch-round edible oranges that make amazing garnishes for cocktails and baked goods-- this plant is one you’ll want to give (or keep for yourself). Give it very bright light (a grow light is ideal), and water when soil is dry about an inch deep.

purewow author

Freelance Gardening Editor

Arricca Elin SanSone is a gardener with more than 15 years of experience. In addition to PureWow, she writes for Prevention, Country Living, Veranda, The Spruce and many other...