New colors for the holiday home

Chris Gardner

Fri December 5, 2014 12:22pm

There will always be a place for paperwhites, poinsettias and amaryllises during the holiday season. They’re just so beautiful, accessible and festive.

But who doesn’t yearn to rock the boat and change things up a bit? The traditional trio doesn’t have to be banished, maybe just not given the center of attention. What takes their place? Here are some holiday floral decor ideas that are a bit unexpected.

Hellebore
Tops on just about everyone’s list are the stunning new white and cream (tinged red and pink) hellebores available as flowering plants. They’re hybrids involving H. niger (commonly called Christmas rose), which won’t grow well outside in mild California gardens, and other hellebores which do. So enjoy these beauties for the holidays, and then plant them outside. You may just have a favorite new winter-blooming perennial.

Calocephalus
Silvery, wiry and wonderful. Calocephalus brownii is a great complement to all red flowers. Add them to mixed containers and centerpieces. For an icy effect, combine with pure white flowers.

Silver Dichondra
Weave a long-growing (great if it trails three or four feet) pot of ‘Silver Falls’ dichondra in and out of your fireplace mantel décor. Everyone will wonder what that gorgeous silver foliage is—and they won’t believe it’s a live plant.

White Begonias
There are several new types of begonias now available. ‘Crackling Fire White’ has beautifully arching stems dripping with white, bell-like flowers.

Red Anigozanthus
Who’d have thought? Kangaroo paw as a holiday flower? Yes! The bright red ones are stunning in centerpieces and suggest the fuzzy horns of reindeer.

Red Ornamental Peppers
The gorgeous, glossy, scarlet red fruit of peppers popping through in a centerpiece or container garden is an unusual touch.

Silver Succulents
Choose the whitest, silvery-est ones. Then nestle them among velvety-red flowers for a sleek, contemporary holiday look. Another combination? Silvery succulents with mercury glass votives.

Kalanchoe
Kalanchoes purchased just as the first blooms are popping will last for weeks and weeks indoors. The white ones (especially the white double ones) have a nice elegance as do the deep red. Use them anywhere and everywhere since they aren’t fussy about light (or no light).

White Hydrangea
‘Shooting Star’ has almost become a holiday staple, but since there are other new white hydrangeas (gorgeous double ones) being forced for the holidays, we’ve included it. Is there a more elegant holiday flower? Not really.

Cyclamen
This wonderful flower has almost become as popular as the poinsettia and paperwhite. But you may not have used them indoors as holiday décor. You should. Nestle them (either red or white) in freshly-polished silver bowls with a bit of deep green moss to hide the pots. Sensational.

Chris Gardner, California Certified Nursery Professional, is manager of the Mission Valley Armstrong Garden Centers. Email questions for him to growingdialogue@armstronggarden.