Festive Christmas Flowers and Plants— Photo Courtesy Brian Wheat, AAF, PFCI, of Lafayette Florist, Gift Shop & Garden Center in Lafayette, Colorado. www.lafayetteflorist.comMany people in the United States celebrate Christmas day on December 25. It was declared a federal holiday in 1870. The day celebrates Jesus Christ’s birth and is often combined with many other customs and pre-Christian winter celebrations. We decorate our homes, spend time with family and friends, and do gift exchanges, we gather together for holiday feasts.

For many people, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Many of our favorite childhood memories are filled with the images of Santa Claus and his eight tiny reindeer, colorfully wrapped presents, Christmas carols, candy canes and the sugar plums dancing in our heads.

In my memories, there was always a constant — our home was filled with fragrant flowers and festive seasonal plants. 

Christmas Flower Gifts — Photo Courtesy Brian Wheat, AAF, PFCI, of Lafayette Florist, Gift Shop & Garden Center in Lafayette, Colorado. www.lafayetteflorist.com Growing up in the fertile flat lands of central Illinois, it would all start in October, harvest time combined with jack ’o lantern pumpkins, Indian corn, fall mums, fall pansies, bales of straw and dried corn stalks. The hues of summer would change from green to orange, red, brown, yellow, and the weather would cool.

Then, fast forward to Thanksgiving continuing with the autumn-themed colors. Table adorned with aromatic roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry and rolls, highlighted with flower centerpieces. Cornucopias filled with chrysanthemums, lilies, orange roses, daisies and topped off with candles.

As soon as the dishes were cleared from the Thanksgiving dinner table, it was time for the colors of the décor to change. The next month would be filled with red, green, silver and gold, with lots of sparkle thrown in.

— Photo Courtesy Brian Wheat, AAF, PFCI, of Lafayette Florist, Gift Shop & Garden Center in Lafayette, Colorado. www.lafayetteflorist.com Flowers and plants would bring a festive flair to our farm-house. A sturdy 7-foot fresh spruce would stand with silver tinsel and draped with colorful lights, hand-made ornaments, popcorn strands and paper chains from us five kids. Garlands of fresh pine and fir would adorn the staircase and the smell would permeate the home.

Red poinsettias wrapped in foil would nestle into wicker baskets. Paperwhites and amaryllis bulbs would begin to emerge in festive bowls. Wreaths with big red velvet bows and brass jingle bells would adorn doors. Nut and hard candy bowls abound, mistletoe was hung and the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas had begun.

Back then, floral centerpieces had the traditional red and white carnations, pine cones, holly, spruce branches and red berries.

Today, many other flowers are used in holiday designs, such as tulips, oriental lilies, protea, seeded eucalyptus, calla lily, gardenias, anemone and ranunculus. Great new designs of ribbon and the addition of fruits and berries give texture, color and style to holiday arrangements.

Poinsettia— Photo Courtesy Brian Wheat, AAF, PFCI, of Lafayette Florist, Gift Shop & Garden Center in Lafayette, Colorado. www.lafayetteflorist.comLiving plants of the season include the ever popular and traditional poinsettia. This Euphorbia pulcherrima, a member of the diverse spurge family indigenous to Mexico, is probably the most well-known of all holiday plants.

Poinsettias were introduced to the United States in 1825 by Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. Minister to Mexico. There is a common misconception that it is toxic; it is not, as proven by the American Journal of Emergency Medicine and Ohio State University. The most popular color is still red, but there are more than 100 varieties available today.

Other wonderful holiday plants include cyclamen, Christmas cactus, paper whites and Amaryllis.

Enjoy the season with family and friends, and enhance it with beautiful flowers and festive plants.