Well beyond the expected poinsettia or Christmas cactus, there’s a wide range of houseplants that work well as holiday gifts and centerpieces.
Kalanchoe, a winter-blooming succulent, is a particularly good choice for the holidays because of its long bloom period — up to eight weeks. Also, like all succulents, it doesn’t mind the dry indoor air typical of our winter homes. In fact, it prefers to have its soil dry out completely between waterings.
(file art from our library)
Known botanically as Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, this easy-care houseplant comes in a wide range of tropical colors, including red, pink, white, coral, yellow, purple and orange. The clusters of tiny flowers sit above medium-green shiny, waxy leaves.
Native to Madagascar, this jade plant cousin likes full sun outdoors or bright indirect light indoors. Try to keep it in a room where the temperatures don’t go above 70 degrees.
Many people (nongardeners mostly) throw out the plants after the holidays and the blooms are done, but it’s an easy plant to grow year-round. Just cut back the faded flowers and stems and keep watering it regularly.
Put your kalanchoe outdoors for the summer, then bring it back inside when night-time temperatures threaten to go below 40 degrees. In order to get it to rebloom, give it 14 consecutive days with less light than it was getting outdoors. At night, keep it in a room where no lights are used or cover it with a box or paper bag. Buds will begin to appear and you should have flowers in just a few weeks.
Looking for other houseplants for the holidays? Try orchids, amaryllis, cyclamen, Christmas pepper or paperwhites. Or you can always stick with the tried and true poinsettia or Christmas cactus.