‘Enduring Marble’ pink poinsettias

‘Enduring Marble’ pink poinsettias growing in a greenhouse. (Photo: Amy Lentz).

Amy Lentz

Amy Lentz

Many of you may be receiving a holiday themed plant as a gift this holiday season, or maybe you decide to buy one to dress up your own home. But don’t be fooled, even though most of these plants are sold and promoted this time of year, they are not made for outdoor temperatures or winter landscapes. Most of these are tropical in nature and are to be grown as houseplants indoors. Let’s talk about a few of the most common holiday houseplants:


I could go on for days about poinsettias because they are possibly my favorite holiday plant! They are available in many sizes and a multitude of patterns and colors to complement your unique holiday style.

Poinsettias are not typically kept very long after the holidays are over because they lose some of their luster. However, if you do want to keep your poinsettia, keep it indoors in a high light area until the summer then move it outside. You may need to repot the plant and don’t forget to water it thoroughly when dry and allow the pot to drain completely. Remember, poinsettias are tropical in nature so using these steps should help your poinsettia to rebloom and keep growing beyond the holidays.

Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter Cactus

That’s right, there are actually three main types of holiday cactus, each with a slightly different leaf shape and bloom time. These popular holiday plants are short-day plants that require several weeks with less than 12 hours of daily light to bloom. Like other succulent houseplants, these holiday cacti prefer a bright location but also benefit from cooler temperatures.

My amaryllis blooms when it wants to and surprises me every time! (Photo: Amy Lentz).


I LOVE the amaryllis! These popular houseplants have beautiful trumpet-shaped blooms atop a tall stalk with long, thick grass-like leaves and are truly stunning when they bloom! They come in a variety of colors from red to pink to white – and all shades in between.

The bulbs prefer to be planted in a container that is 1 inch larger in diameter than the bulb and deep enough to support its long root system. They also like to be planted shallow with half of the bulb above the surface of the planting medium. And, because these plants bloom better when pot-bound, you only need to repot them every 3 to 4 years.


Paperwhites are an easy plant to force indoors by planting the bulbs in a container of rocks. They are a tropical bulb requiring six weeks to grow and bloom. Paperwhites will show off their fragrant blooms for just a few weeks and can be tossed or composted afterward.

Norfolk Island Pine

This time of year, these popular gifted plants are adorned with lots of holiday decorations to look like miniature live Christmas trees. And even though they are dressed up as cute little pine trees, they are not true pines at all. They are actually large tropical houseplants that would not survive out in the cold!

When caring for these tree-like houseplants, make sure to give them a large container to support their growth which can be anywhere from 2 to 20 feet tall in a home setting. These plants can reach heights of 200 feet in their native habitat in Australia and New Zealand! Norfolk Island pines prefer a mild room temperature of 60-72 degrees and at least two hours of bright but indirect sunlight.

Hopefully these tips will help you to keep your holiday plants happy and allow you to enjoy them well beyond the holiday season!

By Amy Lentz. Amy Lentz is the Home Horticulture Program Coordinator for Colorado State University Extension Boulder County in Longmont.