Five Common ‘Holiday’ Plants and How to Care for Them

19 December 2022

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

During the winter holiday season, several plants are often the stars of the show. So, depending on where you live in the world, you might see them at this time of year.


Poinsettias are a very common holiday plant. These are in a plant store in Larchmont, New York, December 5, 2022. . (AP Photo/Julia Rubin)
Poinsettias are a very common holiday plant. These are in a plant store in Larchmont, New York, December 5, 2022. . (AP Photo/Julia Rubin)

The most common holiday plant is probably poinsettia. The plant is native to countries in Central and South America. Even if they do not grow in your area, you may see them in holiday movies and television shows from the United States.

With their bright red leaves, they add color to any holiday decorations. Many people buy them for the holidays, but then throw them away afterward. But you can actually keep them around a little longer.

When you first bring them home, try to protect the plants from cold air. If you live in a cold climate, consider warming the car before transporting them. Once home, you should keep them away from cold doorways or windows. Place them where daytime temperatures are between 18-23 degrees Celsius.

Water the whole container whenever the surface turns dry. But the plant itself should never sit in water. Make sure water can escape from the bottom.


The paperwhite plant is in the daffodil family. The bulbs of paperwhites are usually kept at low temperatures. So, they can be planted in cold weather and produce flowers in a month to six weeks. The flowers have an extremely sweet smell. And some people may not like that.

While you can grow these bulbs by setting them in a small amount of water, it is best to plant them in a shallow container of soil. They do not need much water and like lots of light.

Christmas trees

Small pine trees are often used as Christmas trees. Most people use cut trees and turn them into wood chips after the holidays.

Some Americans like to get a live tree so they can plant it after the holidays. If you want to do that, make sure you water the tree regularly and are careful with lights and ornaments.


An amaryllis plant is the easiest to grow and the showiest to see. They produce the largest flowers you are ever likely to grow.

They are usually sold together with containers and soil. All you need to do is plant it with one-third of the top of the bulb above the soil line.

Keep the plant growing through summer. Then put yours into a cool, dark place so it goes dormant. Then bring it out again to flower for the next holiday season.

Christmas cactus

A Christmas cactus is another great plant that flowers during the mid-winter holidays. If you do not celebrate Christmas, you can call it by its scientific name -- Schlumbergera.

Cactuses will flower each year if exposed to shortening days. They live for many years. Some families pass them on from one generation to the next. It is also common for families to split its root and share the plant.

Christmas cactuses do best in bright light. When it is flowering, the cactus should only be watered when the soil is dry. Too much water and the flowers will drop off. So, this is one of those times when too dry is better than too wet.

For the rest of the year, only add water when the surface soil dries out. Next autumn, give it natural light and keep it cool – for example, up against a window. It will flower again.

Whether you celebrate the holidays or not, these plants can be a colorful addition to your home during the cold weather season.

And that's the Health & Lifestyle report.

I'm Anna Matteo.

Jeff Lowenfels contributes gardening stories to The Associated Press. Anna Matteo adapted his story for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

decorate to make more attractive by adding something that is beautiful or becoming : decoration – n.

bulb – n. an underground resting stage of a plant (as an onion or tulip) consisting of a short stem base bearing one or more buds enclosed in overlapping leaves

shallow – adj. having little depth

ornament – n. something that adds beauty

dormant – adj. of, relating to, or used during a period of no or greatly reduced activity or growth

exposed – adj. not shielded or protected