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Holiday plants branch out beyond poinsettias

Associated Press

Although poinsettias of all stripes and colors remain the bestselling holiday plant of choice, there are a number of good winter-blooming options. Here are some elegant and carefree holiday houseplant suggestions:

Amaryllis: These bulbous plants bear one or more lily-like flowers on a single, strong stem. They come in different sizes and colors and usually are sold in 6- or 8-inch pots. They also make gorgeous holiday bouquets when freshly cut. They are long-lasting and low-maintenance. Some selections are fragrant.

Christmas cactus: A sun-loving succulent that flowers during the holidays and makes a good foliage plant when tended minimally the rest of the year. They flower in red, white, pink and violet, and look good in containers or hanging baskets. Christmas cactus is a long-lived plant. Many are passed along from family member to family member through the generations.

Christmas topiary: Potted plants, usually English ivy, rosemary, juniper or an assortment of miniature conifers, used for tabletop display. Most are trimmed into holiday shapes — Christmas trees, reindeer and ornamental balls, among others — and draped with ribbons and miniature lights. "Topiaries are time-consuming if you do them well," said Byron Martin, owner of Logee's Tropical Plants in Danielson, Conn. "They can be beautiful, but it takes a long time to make a quality one."

Ornithogalum (White Star of Bethlehem): This fragrant flowering plant produces a number of white, star-shaped blooms on two or three tall stems. The flowers generally last several weeks. The plant originates from a bulb that has growing habits similar to the amaryllis.

Anthurium (Hawaiian Volcano Plant): These tropical plants are valued for their heart- or arrow-shaped leaves and contrasting red or yellow flowers, which will last for weeks. They are a great choice for table or mantle arrangements. "You can't kill it," Martin said. "It flops down if it gets too dry. But after you give it some water, it perks right up again. An unbelievable plant for the holidays or any time."

Holiday plants branch out beyond poinsettias 11/29/08 [Last modified: Saturday, November 29, 2008 3:31am]

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