More Than Holly and Ivy

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Amaryllis
Amaryllis

Plants as gifts wear the crown

Plants make the perfect holiday gift. They are beautiful and act as a reminder of our loved ones who gifted it as it is tended and cared for. No matter what the decor, a plant will add warmth and texture to a space.

Plants are also known to have health benefits. Besides fresher and cleaner air, caring for plants acts as a stress release and holds a calming affect. Growing plants can also help build self-esteem and bring out nurturing qualities in everyone—even those who claim to have a black thumb.

Different colored flowers represent different Christmas themes, such as white representing purity, innocence and peace. Red, as in many biblical motifs, is indicative of the blood of Christ, with green signifying everlasting or eternal life. Adding gold or silver to an arrangement or even a bow of that color means The Star of Bethlehem, and if gifting a blue flower, it symbolizes the Virgin Mary.

Some of the most popular Christmas plants are also some of the easiest to tend to, making them the ideal gifts.

Amaryllis

The plant called “amaryllis” is not really an amaryllis but a Hippeastrum hybrid. It is also known as St. Joseph’s Staff. The amaryllis will require a warm place with bright light but not full sun. Keep soil evenly moist but not wet. The bloom should last six to eight weeks.

Christmas Cactus
Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus

According to legend, when Father Jose, a Jesuit missionary, tried to teach the natives in a jungle of Bolivia about the Bible and the life of Christ, he struggled to gain their trust and faith. He feared the natives did not comprehend the concepts he worked so hard to teach them. One Christmas Eve, he knelt before the altar seeking God’s guidance. The joyful sound of voices singing a hymn he had taught them could be heard in the distance. As the sound grew louder, Jose turned to see the village children marching into the church with armfuls of bright flowers they had gathered in the jungle for the Christ child. These flowers became known as the Christmas cactus. Put Christmas cactus in a bright window and water when the top of the soil begins to dry out.

Cyclamen
Cyclamen

Cyclamen

This plant is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The red spot at the heart of the flower represents the bleeding sorrow of the Immaculate Heart. The cyclamen is sometimes called “bleeding nun.” It is most comfortable in a north- facing window in a cool room (50 to 60 degrees F.). Keep the soil moist but don’t wet the crown of the plant. Mist occasionally and pinch off spent flowers to keep them blooming for months.

Kalanchoe
Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe

The name Kalanchoe stems from “Kalanchauhuy,” a Chinese name for the species recorded by Georg Joseph Kamel, a botanist and Jesuit missionary to the Philippines. This member of the succulent family needs to be placed in bright but not direct sun light. Keep kalanchoe cool and away from drafts. Water thoroughly and then let it completely dry out before you water again. No misting necessary.

Paperwhites
Paperwhites

Paperwhites

This flower is sometimes depicted in scenes of the annunciation or of paradise to show the triumph of divine love, sacrifice and eternal life over death, selfishness and sin. These are a type of daffodil that grow easily in a shallow container of water anchored by stones. For best results, place them in a cool spot in bright, but not direct sunlight and enjoy.

Pointsettia
Pointsettia

Poinsettia

The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the wise men to Jesus. The red-colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.

Treat it right and the flowers (really bracts or colored leaves) should last two to six months. The poinsettia will thrive in a warm (65 to 75 degrees F), well-lighted spot away from drafty windows and doors. Water only when soil is dry. Mist leaves regularly.

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