Subscribe Today
Give a Gift
Customer Service

Phoenix Home and Garden
Subscribe Today!
For the HomeFor the GardenFood & EntertainingResourcesArticle Archive
For The Garden

Gifts to Grow

Author: Lori A. Johnson
Issue: December, 2017, Page 116
Photo by Frank Vincentz
CHRISTMAS CHOLLA
(Cylindropuntia leptocaulis)

Type: Perennial succulent

Blooms: Yellow-green; spring through summer

Size: 2-6'H by 3-4'W

Soil: Well-drained, sandy

Elevation: Low

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Low

Maintenance: Christmas cholla requires little or no supplemental water. Beware of sharp spines and joints that can easily break off and attach to skin or clothing.

Attracts: Bees, birds

Note: This succulent has the slenderest jointed stems of any cholla, which often intertwine with neighboring plants to form an impenetrable thicket.

Why we like it: Small but ornamental, the petite edible red fruits that follow the blooming period from late summer into winter give this plant its common name, as they resemble clusters of holly berries.




WILD POINSETTIA
(Euphorbia heterophylla)


Type: Herbaceous annual

Blooms: Yellow; summer

Size: 24-36"H by 12-14"W

Soil: Well-drained, sandy

Elevation: Low to medium

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water needs: Moderate

Maintenance: Handle with care due to the presence of latex, a toxic milky sap common to all members of the Euphorbia genus. 

Attracts: Bees, butterflies

Note: A native of Mexico and the Southwest, this plant in the spurge family is a wild relative of the well-known commercialized Christmas poinsettia.

Why we like it: Much smaller and rather inconspicuous compared with the flashy commercial varieties, wild poinsettia do well in beds or containers.




CHRISTMAS CACTUS
(Schlumbergera spp.)


Type: Succulent

Blooms: Various colors; winter

Size: 12-24"H by 24-36"W

Soil: Well-drained, sandy

Elevation: Any

Light: Indirect sunlight

Water needs: Moderate

Maintenance: Water regularly, but allow top inch of soil to dry completely between waterings. After flowering season, cut stems back to encourage growth; cuttings can be used to propagate new plants.

Attracts: Bees

Note: This winter-blooming succulent requires more water and less direct sunlight than desert plants.

Why we like it: Christmas cacti are available in a range of hybrids and bloom colors and make excellent houseplants when kept near a window. Each bloom lasts several days, and the blooming period spans several weeks.




CHRISTMAS PEPPER
(Capsicum annuum)


Type: Perennial or annual

Blooms: White; summer

Size: 9-18"H by 9-12"W

Soil: Well-drained soils

Elevation: Any

Light: Indirect sunlight

Water needs: Moderate

Maintenance: Keep soil moist at all times and provide at least several hours of bright, indirect sunlight each day.

Attracts: Bees

Note: These peppers are considered annuals if discarded after the fruit drops, but they can also be planted outdoors as garden perennials. Beware, the plants are toxic to cats
and dogs.

Why we like it: Ornamental peppers are available in a range of cultivars, the most popular being those that resemble Christmas lights and transition from purple to yellow, orange and red at various stages of maturity.


Other Favorites: Wild poinsettia (Euphorbia cyathophora), ‘Black Pearl’ pepper (Capsicum annuum, ‘Black Pearl’), Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata), Christmas rose (Helleborus niger), Graber’s firethorn (Pyracantha fortuneana ‘Graberi’)
Subscribe Today!