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9 Easy-Care Holiday Houseplants

Fuss-free and festive, these houseplants deck your halls with vibrant color. They make excellent holiday gifts, too.

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Holiday plants on standsMark R Coons/Getty Images

Choosing Holiday Houseplants

Freshen up your holiday decor with live plants that last long past the holidays. Keep them looking festive by choosing holiday houseplants that thrive indoors. Look for ones that can handle the cold windows, limited light and low humidity found in our homes in winter. Here are a few suggestions for choosing and caring for holiday plants that are worth celebrating.

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Christmas Cactus

Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) can live for decades, which proves just how easy they are to care for. They are indeed a true cactus, but do not like to be bone dry. It’s also easy to propagate Christmas cactus. Just break off several segments of their chain-like leaves and stick the broken-off end directly in moist soil. Do this in late winter after flowering to have a nice sized plant to gift next year.

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Red Aglaonema

The pros at Costa Farms recommend Aglaonema, or Chinese evergreen, as one of the best plants for beginners. It easily handles indoor conditions and needs next to no care. The colorful leaves of red Aglaonema come in lots of pretty patterns with bright splashes of red or pink. They look great next to, or instead of, a poinsettia, and will keep their good looks and shiny leaves all year long. Learn more about poinsettia, originally called Cuetlaxochitl.

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The bulbs of these gorgeous trumpet-shaped flowers are great for gift giving. In the spring, Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) can be planted directly into the garden to be enjoyed for years as a summer-flowering bulb, if you live in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 7 or higher. Or keep them as a potted plant. Get them to bloom next winter by withholding light and water from the end of September until early November. Find out how to care for amaryllis after blooming.

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If you have a room on the cool side (and who doesn’t in winter?), that’s the perfect spot to prolong cyclamen‘s already long bloom season. Temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees F keep the winged flowers in shades of red, pink and white beautiful for months. These plants will last for years if kept evenly watered, but give them a drying out period of about six weeks if you want to trigger another season of blooms.

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Norfolk Island Pine

Norfolk Island pine is perfect as a mini-Christmas tree. Although it’s not a true pine at all, this native of the tropics will enjoy spending summers on a shaded patio. It’s equally trouble-free as an outdoor plant, but will need to be brought inside before frost hits. Once “home for the holidays,” give your Norfolk Island pine medium to bright light and keep it out of standing water.

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Moth Orchid

These gorgeous flowers look exotic but are surprisingly easy to care for. Even better, the flowers last for months (really) so they are a great value. Moth orchid (Phalaenopsis) likes the same temperatures we do and prefers to dry out between watering. These flowers do like some humidity, so try them in a guest bathroom to create a spa-like vibe.

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Stop by any grocery store or florist during the holidays and you’ll find kalanchoe in full bloom in colors like red, gold and white. These pretty plants are succulents, so they will survive even if the busy holiday season distracts you from watering. They don’t need humidity to thrive and are happy at room temperature. They appreciate a sunny spot and can go outside in warm weather, but keep away from kids and pets — the leaves are toxic if eaten.

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Red Prayer Plant

Prayer plant (Maranta) gets its name from the fascinating way it closes its leaves each night. Red prayer plant has gorgeous red veining and other markings decorating its leaves. Prayer plant asks for regular watering and decent humidity; otherwise, it is happy with low light and average household temperatures. With this basic care this plant will live for years, gradually spreading up to two feet wide and occasionally flowering.

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Polka Dot Plant

Polka dot plant (Hypoestes) was once only available in pink, but varieties like Splash Red twinkle with a heavy sprinkling of cheery red color. Low-growing leaves look great as filler in holiday arrangements or in a tablescape. Keep as a houseplant year-round or in summer, pop them into a shaded container or flowerbed. These plants wilt to let you know they are thirsty but bounce right back after watering.

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Helen Newling Lawson
Helen Newling Lawson is a published garden writer and freelance content marketing professional. She is a lifelong gardener, originally from central New Jersey but now digging in Georgia clay. She has been a University of Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer since 2002 and earned the Georgia Certified Plant Professional certification in 2017. A regional director of GardenComm, the Association of Garden Communicators, Helen is a contributor to magazines including Country Gardens, Birds and Blooms, Georgia Magazine, Nursery Management, State-by-State Gardening, and Atlanta Parent. She has also developed content for clients in a range of industries, from tech to the green industry. She enjoys photography, often supplying her own images for editorial use, and hikes and does yoga in her spare time.