See red… gold and silver this Christmas

Get into the festive spirit with these decorative indoor plants that won’t gather dust and will still look good long after Christmas.

It’s no surprise that poinsettia are the  world’s bestselling Christmas plants.  Just one plant decorates a room, and who would say no to one as a gift? After Christmas they can be planted out in the garden as a colourful foliage plant or popped into a pot for the patio.  

This year’s new variety is ‘Kayla Red’ which has multi-coloured oak-shaped leaves, both bright and dark red, black and bright green. It’s a compact, heat tolerant plant.  

Like all other poinsettia, it will look good for two to three months or more if displayed in a warm room that that receives bright, direct light. Keep the soil moist but don’t over water as the roots may rot.  

After flowering, cut it down to 10cm and repot into a larger pot or plant out in a  position that gets plenty of sun. Cutting back every year after flowering keeps poinsettia bushy and attractive.   

Poinsettia is not the only plant that shows off its brilliant red ‘flowers’ at this time of year. This post-box red anthurium  is as much of a feature plant as the poinsettia, thanks to its glossy green leaves that accentuate the flowers.  

This is the perfect plant for people who want to get away from artificial Christmas decorations in favour of natural décor.   

Display anthurium anywhere with good light, warmth and away from draughts. Being compact, plants they are easy to place in the home and the leaves can be as much of a feature as the flowers. The soil can dry out moderately between watering. Wipe the leaves to keep them glossy and snip off dead flowers.  

Tuberous begonias are living flowers arrangements, having large, frilly flowers in a range of bright colours. They thrive in a warm, bright room indoors. Pop the plant into a beautiful container and enjoy it as a centrepiece on the Christmas ever dinner table.  

Plants flower for two to three months. Keep the soil moist (not soggy or they rot). Depending on the temperature, half a cup of water a week in winter should suffice. Avoid wetting the leaves.  Feed with a liquid fertiliser once a month and remove dead flowers.  

Silver sparkle 

A superb companion for poinsettia or any other red Christmas flower is the silver cushion bush (Calocephalus).  

This naturally ball-shaped bush has dense silvery foliage that resembles undersea coral. It grows 20cm high and wide, and only needs a light trim to keep it in shape. Grow indoors with bright light, on the patio or outdoors in well-drained soil and full sun. Allow the soil to dry out moderately in between watering. 

Go for gold! 

The pot conifer Cupressus macrocarpa Gold Crest’ is the traditional Christmas tree because of its tapering shape, bright lime-green foliage, and pine-like fragrance. They are tough and will handle the Christmas lights and baubles.  

This year, there is a variation; Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Snowflake’ which is named for its white tips. It’s the closest you’ll get to snow in this part of the world. During its time indoors make sure it receives plenty of light, even some morning sun, and keep the soil consistently moist. 

After Christmas plant it in a large pot or in the garden in full sun, in fertile well drained soil. 

As an indoor plant it needs plenty of light, even some sun, and should be kept moist.  

Do you know about the tradition around mistletoe? According to Druid mythology and Norse culture, if a person stands under a sprig of mistletoe at Christmas time, they can be kissed. If they refuse to be kissed, it brings them bad luck.  

We may not have the Northern hemisphere mistletoe but we do have ‘Mistletoe cactus’ (Rhipsalis baccifera).  It’s a modern indoor plant that grows into an eye-catching trailing plant that bears some resemblance to mistletoe.  

It needs bright indirect light, even when planted outdoors. Direct sun will burn it. Keep the soil evenly moist. It also likes humidity, which is best supplied by placing the pot on a saucer filled with pebbles and water.  

Yellow, orange and apricot-gold pot roses are also living flower arrangements that add warmth, and contrast, to any arrangement of red and silver indoor plants.  They too can be cut down after flowering and planted into patio pots or in the garden.  

Choose plants that still have plenty of buds and make sure they are close to a bright window that receives plenty of light, even filtered sun. Keep the soil evenly moist and don’t be tempted to over water. 

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