The Truth about Poinsettia

Bored with the same old poinsettia plants you put out every year? Time to diversify.

By Emily Main

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This Norfolk Island pine makes for great composting once the holidays pass.Norfolk Island Pine
These may not bear any flowers—or have any resemblance to your traditional poinsettia plants—but Norfolk Island pines are becoming increasingly popular holiday houseplants. One reason is that they look a bit like small Christmas trees and can even be decorated with light ornaments and tiny light strings (regular ornaments are too heavy for their branches), making them perfect for apartment dwellers and people who don't like the thought of chopping down real trees or buying plastic fake ones. “They are indeed beautiful, and make great Christmas trees,” says Ciesinski, adding that they’re also easy to take care of. However, these trees can grow to 100 feet in their native island habitat, so the houseplant variety, which can reach 12 feet, usually has to be thrown out (and, ideally, composted or mulched) once it’s too big for your dwelling, she says. You can try replanting them outdoors if you live in a warm climate, Ciesinski notes, but they aren't hardy enough for most U.S. regions.

Want more holiday houseplant options? Other great choices include the Christmas cactus, miniature roses, azaleas, and cyclamen, all of which are easy to find in your local nursery or garden center.

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