This tropical plant can spend summers outdoors in Georgia and will grow about 30 inches tall as a houseplant.
It’s a wonderful gift for someone whose holiday decor is a bit glamorous; blue and silver ornaments and crystal candlesticks look just right next to Stromanthe. They’ll need plenty of bright light and humidity in their home, though.
Another trait that makes it an appropriate Christmas gift: This beauty is a prayer plant relative, and its leaves close in on themselves at night as if the plant has folded its “hands” to pray. Stromanthe is a rare tropical plant that’s not particularly toxic to pets.
Stromanthe tricolor in 6-inch pot. $26. Amazon
Dwarf ‘Gingerland’ caladium
The oversized leaves on this colorful plant look like Christmas wrapping paper, with their bright green edges and cream-colored surfaces splashed with bright red.
Indoors they’ll grow well with bright (but not direct) light and lots of humidity. Start them as a houseplant in December and then plant them in the garden as annuals next spring, or grow them as indoor/outdoor container plants all year.
Dwarf “Gingerland” caladium with white marks. $9. Amazon
Star or ‘Christmas Sleigh’ aloe
A bit more sophisticated than the familiar pot of aloe vera resting on the kitchen windowsill, these hybrid aloes also have star power. The plants form star shapes, that is, visible from an aerial view.
They also sport festive accents, with dark pink edges on the cream and green star aloe leaves, and light red highlights on the spikier dark green “Christmas Sleigh” foliage. Best of all for gift-giving: These are easy-care succulents that need little more than bright light and deep watering when their soil is thoroughly dry.
Like all aloe, they do well in succulent container gardens year-round and can spend the warm months outdoors in a partly shaded area.
Star aloe in 4-inch clay pot. $20. Amazon
“Christmas Sleigh” in 3.5-inch pots. $12.50. Altman Plants
This succulent will flower for eight to 12 weeks after its buds form, maybe longer if you pinch the dead blossoms and keep it watered. After that, the foliage will grow easily indoors, given ample light.
What’s extra nice about this plant is that it can sustain temperatures as low as 45 degrees.
Although it won’t rebloom next year without careful measures to keep it cold and dark for many weeks in the winter, it will grow as a foliage plant for years. And it’s quite easy to start a new kalanchoe from cuttings.
Red kalanchoe in a 5x6-inch reclaimed wood container. $40. Jackson Perkins
Christmasy but tropical, too, croton leaves are a hot mess of striated red, gold, green, dark pink and sometimes orange. They’ll reach several feet in height even indoors and add a festive touch to the hearth in December.
But don’t leave them there post-Epiphany. These tropical beauties need lots of light and decent humidity. In the spring and summer, they are carefree as outdoor container plants. Just make sure to rest the pot on a wheeled cart so you can readily bring it back indoors in the autumn for another round of holiday decor.
Six-inch container, 10-inch tall croton. $30. Amazon
Polka dot begonia
Begonia maculata is grown for its foliage, though it may have white, bell-shaped blossoms when it reaches maturity in two or three years.
Meantime, though, this easy-care houseplant grows large, wing-shaped leaves with blotchy, silvery spots that look like a snowstorm is just starting. Play off the effect with a knit scarf wrapped around the planter or a ceramic cardinal figurine ornamenting the pot.
The gift recipient will need warm temperatures and bright light for indoor begonias. Consider adding a grow light to the gift as needed.
Polka dot begonia in 6-inch pot. $20. Home Depot
If you (or the giftee) can provide temperatures in the 70-85 degree range and plenty of humidity, anthurium can offer living color all year round. Of course, the red blooms are particularly appreciated during the winter holidays, which is why you’re most likely to spot anthurium for sale locally in November and December.
These South American natives will produce waxy, heart-shaped spathes consistently the rest of the year, too. (They’re not flowers per se, but everyone refers to them as such, and they’re certainly as beautiful as any indoor blooms you can grow at home.)
Blooming anthurium in 4-inch ceramic pot. $30. Home Depot
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