The holidays are here, and it’s time to start thinking on how to bring the festivity of the season into your home and workplace with Christmas Flowers. While Europeans and North Americans might bring the outside in with fresh, green scented evergreens, many native Australian plants flower around Christmas time and thus have become regionally known to us as ‘Christmas plants’. These include Christmas bells, Christmas bush, and the Christmas orchid, and all make excellent additions to your home or other indoor space during the holiday time.
The first Europeans in Australia were thrilled to discover native plants in bloom at this time of year and would select and decorate with wildflowers resembling bells as well as bright green foliage covered in red and white flowers. These choices were different from the seasonal foliage at home (which would have been dormant) but also were greatly inspired by their vision of a traditional Christmas including the colours of red, white, and green.
Sydney homes often features bunches of Christmas Bush. This shrub features sprays of white star-like flowers and at this time of year, a red colour is often found around the maturing fruit. Lily-like Christmas Bells are also frequently used in Sydney, with large bell-like flowers on spikes up to 50 cm tall and colours ranging from yellow to deep red.
Native to the rainforest, the rare and aromatic Christmas Orchid has showy white flowers on a tall spike and makes for an excellent potted plant to display for the holidays.
For holly lovers, Holly Grevillea can be found in Victoria and South Australia as an alternative to European Holly. While it lacks red berries, this shrub does have lobed, prickly leaves as appropriate to Christmas holly.
Australia has its own mistletoe too, the Western Australian Christmas Tree, which flowers in yellow at holiday time.
For an authentic ‘Christmas tree’, Australians must look beyond natives, as proper Christmas trees are generally recognized as needing to be conifers. Australians will often decorate small Radiata Pines (Monterey Pines) from California that are grown on plantations in Australia. Native options for a tree to decorate include the Wollemi Pine or Hoop Pine.