To your holiday decorations this year, add some pretty Christmas plants for a living touch of good cheer. Surprisingly, many holiday plants are tropical in origin, which means that you care for them like a houseplant if you live in a cold climate.
The Else Kientzler Botanical Garden in Sarchi, Costa Rica, has several fun ideas for traditional and novel Christmas plants to decorate your home this holiday season. They recommend using decorative planters in different levels, along with hanging baskets, for Christmassy-colored plants. Or, create a small thematic “island garden” where you rotate plants that are in season.
“We have a little garden at the entrance to our reception that right now is all Christmas plants,” noted Ovido Esquivel, director of the Else Kientzler Botanical Garden.
Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima): Native to Mexico and Central America, the poinsettia is perhaps the most recognizable Christmas plant. In English, it is named after the first U.S. minister to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who introduced the plant into the USA in 1825. The colored leaves on the plant – red, white, pink and dark green – look like flowers, even though they are really leaves. While in full bloom, poinsettias like semi-cool, humid locations in bright, indirect light with plenty of moisture and adequate drainage; you don’t want to drown them or have them sit in water-filled saucers, which can produce root rot. If you live in a warmer climate, you can plant your poinsettia after Christmas in a sunny area and it will grow into a shrub or small tree.
Euphorbia Diamond Frost: This very pretty plant in the poinsettia family grows a cloud of tiny, delicate white flowers and small, rounded green leaves. “They are very beautiful to decorate the house with Christmas colors. They are easy to plant and maintain in baskets, planters and home gardens,” said Esquivel.
Torenia (torenia fournieri): Also called wishbone flower or bluewings, this beautiful flower comes in many shades of blue, rose, yellow, pink, purple or white; but most have purple blue flowers with a yellow throat. It is native to Africa and Asia and loves hot and humid weather; it grows well in semi-shade and can be put in a basket or a planter. The purple variety is good for Christmas color, noted Esquivel. He suggests planting Torenia with Euphorbia Diamond Frost for pretty Christmas colors.
GoGo Scarlet and GoGo Purple (Salvia): With bright scarlet red and bright purple flowers, these two varietals are another pretty possibility for your holiday garden. Plant them together in large stair-step planters for spectacular decoration.
Mediterranean cypress tree (Cupressus sempervirens): The cypress tree is the traditional Christmas tree in Costa Rica. The evergreen conifer gives off a wonderful aroma, which fills the houses in Costa Rica from both trees and wreaths during the holidays.
All of these plants are growing in the Else Kientzler Botanical Garden in Costa Rica, and are grown for export by their business, Innovaplant. The beautiful Costa Rica botanical garden features more than 2,000 species of exotic tropical plants from around the globe. The gardens are open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Guided walks are available in English, Spanish and German with advance reservations, or you can go on a self-guided tour.
Article by Shannon Farley