Why we love it: The red berries absolutely sparkle against a snowy backdrop. Winterberry is a cinch to grow—it requires only the most minimal care after planting. Prune occasionally as needed to shape plants. Make sure you plant a male pollinator to ensure a good berry set.
If you want to add live greenery to your front porch entry but worry about proper care and upkeep, stick with arborvitae in ceramic pots. As long as the front porch receives direct sunlight for a good portion of the day, the trees will thrive for a month or so leading up to the end of the holiday season. After that, it's best to plant them outside in full sunlight.
Caring for peonies starts with choosing the right planting spot and making sure soil is exceptionally healthy. Once you take care of that, maintaining healthy plants depends on the basics: watering and fertilizing peonies. Less frequent chores, like deadheading peonies after flowering and cutting back peonies in fall are not demanding tasks but play a key role in keeping this perennial productive.
Evergreen Norfolk Island Pines aren't just fun houseplants; they also make great Christmas trees. Their after-holiday care is no different from their daily care. Give these tropicals high humidity and protect them from drafts. They prefer bright light, such as from a south-facing window, and should be watered when the top of the soil starts to feel dry. Don't keep them too wet or let them dry out completely. Feed with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer in spring and summer, following label directions.
Living christmas trees can be planted outdoors after the holidays. For best results, keep the tree inside for the shortest time possible. If you live where the ground freezes, go ahead and dig a hole for it in your garden or landscape, and cover the hole with boards for safety, until you’re ready to plant. First move the tree into a sheltered location a week or so, to help ease the transition from your home. Then, after you plant it, keep it well mulched and watered, especially for the first year or two. This variety is 'Fat Albert', a Colorado Blue Spruce.
After the holidays, cyclamens need a location with bright, indirect light and cool temperatures. They prefer high humidity, so try grouping them with other plants, or place them in a saucer filled with pebbles and a little water. (Just don't let the roots touch the water, which can cause rotting.) When the flowers finish, the plants will go dormant. Stop watering then and wait until new leaves emerge in fall before you water again. This cyclamen is 'Dixie Pink'.
Paperwhites, or narcissus, are often forced (that is, made to flower outside their normal flowering period) for the holidays. After forcing, they seldom rebloom. You can try planting the bulbs in your garden after all danger of frost has passed, but it’s easier to toss them into the compost pile and start with fresh, new bulbs next year. When grown in the garden, paperwhites need sun and well-drained soil.
If they’re keep in a cool spot (but out of drafts), poinsettias can last long past the holidays. Give your plant bright, indirect light and water when the soil starts to feel dry. As with most houseplants, avoid overwatering, and drain the saucer, so the plants’ roots won’t rot. Use a balanced fertilizer every couple of weeks to feed the poinsettia as long as it’s actively growing. Getting the plant to rebloom next year is difficult; most people compost their poinsettias and buy new ones each season. You can also keep them to enjoy as green houseplants after all the red "leaves" drop.
Ornamental peppers are popular holiday plants with colorful, decorative fruits. Give your plant a cool spot that gets lots of bright light, and water as needed to keep the soil from drying out. Some ornamental peppers have been treated with chemicals, and others just aren't good for eating, so enjoy the fruits only as ornamentals. Don't consume them or let children or pets come in contact with them. Annual ornamental peppers can stay in their pots or be transplanted into the garden after all danger of frost has passed. They'll grow until the first hard frost. This variety is 'NuMex Easter.'
For summer bloom, turn to native, easy-care shrub sweetspire. Scarlet Beauty sweetspire (Itea virginica ‘Morton’) unfurls long white flower clusters mid-June to early July, flooding summer days and nights with luxurious fragrance. Blossoms buzz with pollinator activity, including bees, butterflies and beneficial insects. This is a must-have plant for wildlife gardens. The fall color season unfolds slowly with leaves in shades of vibrant scarlet-reds and deep oranges that hit their peak in early November. Plants thrive in sun to shade, tolerate moist soil and grow 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Good to know: If pruning is needed, do so immediately after flowering, before blossom buds form on mature stems. In early spring, remove any stems that fail to leaf out.
When choosing dwarf Alberta spruce for pots, consider miniature varieties, like Tiny Tower (Picea glauca conica ‘MonRon’). This little cutie reaches a maximum height of 4 to 6 feet tall and up to 2 feet wide. The slow growth rate means you can keep it tucked into containers for a few years. Tiny Tower has bright green leaves that shift to gray as they mature. It’s hardy in Zones 3 to 8. At Christmas, you’ll often see mini Christmas trees in pots. These are usually dwarf Alberta spruce and can be planted into the landscape after the holiday.