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The garden centers and grocery stores are already loading up on poinsettias for the holiday season. And not just the red or cream-colored ones of our childhood. No, now you can get a turquoise, glittered poinsettia for your mantle (shudder). I'm not exactly a fan of the poinsettia. Part of it is because I think they're not exactly the most attractive plants. But more than that is the fact that poinsettias are generally considered to be "throw-away" plants, barely making it through the holiday season before being tossed by the thousands out onto the curb (it takes a bit of work and planning to make a poinsettia turn red for the next holiday season if you live in a cold zone.) Rather than creating more waste during the holiday season, how about buying a plant that says "holidays" just as well as the poinsettia, but will be along much, much longer?

6 Poinsettia Alternatives

1. Norfolk Island Pine - This is another plant that is common in grocery stores and home centers at this time of year, usually wrapped with one of those horrid foil pot covers. Buy one of them, recycle the foil cover, and repot the pine in a nice looking pot. You can make it look more festive by adding a small string of lights and tiny ornaments and garlands. Remove the decorations, and you've got a really pretty, easy-maintenance houseplant.

2. Gardenia - If you want fragrance in your home, you can't go wrong with a gardenia. Even when not in bloom, this plant's glossy, dark green leaves make it a very attractive houseplant. Gardenias can be a bit fussy about conditions: they require bright light, high humidity, and even moisture. If you can provide these, you should get at least one gardenia for your home.

3. Cyclamen - Cyclamen can provide a real pop of color during the holidays, and, if you care for the plant, will continue to do so for years to come. You can find cyclamen in most supermarkets and garden centers, most commonly with red, white, or pink blooms. Cyclamen require a dormant stage to bloom again, but that really makes it an even easier houseplant to care for!

4. Amaryllis - If you love blooms, you need to get your hands on some amaryllis bulbs! You typically find them everywhere this time of year, usually sold in boxes as complete planting kits. This is a convenient way to get them, but if you want more variety in your choices, you'll want to order from a reputable grower. Amaryllis provide gorgeous blooms during the holiday season if you plant the bulbs in November. Many people treat these as throw-aways as well, but it's actually quite simple to get them to bloom again next holiday season.

5. Christmas Cactus - Also known as "Thanksgiving Cactus" (they are typically sold in bloom for both holidays) these succulent plants are fairly simple to care for. They don't do well in dim, drafty, dry areas, so you'll have to make sure you have a good spot for them. If you do, they'll reward you with blooms during the holidays for years to come.

6. Orchids - Don't give me that look. Phalaenopsis (also known as "moth") orchids are very easy to grow, bloom for months, and are among the least-fussy houseplants I've grown. Phalaenopsis are available in a variety of colors, and make a beautiful, elegant addition to your holiday décor.

There you have them: six holiday plants that (in my humble opinion) outshine poinsettias any day of the week, and add beauty to your house year-round. We've been talking about new traditions for your holiday season; why not extend it to your holiday plants as well?

Watch and Learn About Green Holiday Lighting from Steve Thomas!