Christmas Plants Down Under

Australian Christmas Wreath
GillianVann /

The British traditions of decking the halls with evergreens such as mistletoe, holly and ivy hardly apply to Australia. Maybe because our Christmas tends to be around perfect jet ski weather. Also because those plants have a hard time growing here without specially provided circumstances. This is why when the season came the pioneers of Australia rushed about, gathering every flower in their surroundings that looked even remotely Christmasy. Which was not hard as there is a variety of plants here that fit the colour theme, and are now a big part of Down Under Christmas tradition.

We, at Fantastic Gardeners Melbourne, have made a list of the Christmas plants you can find in Australia. Let’s take a look at them.

Christmas Bells

christmas bells flower
Peter Abell /

Christmas Bells grows in tufts much like grass. Its flowers look like a tube with a flare at the end. The colours vary from gold to crimson and stay festive even in scorching weather. Nowadays they have grown en masse and sold for Christmas, but you can easily grow them yourself.

Care tips:

Christmas bells can be either grown in your yard or in a pot. If you choose to grow them in the ground mind that they require well-draining soil. Thick mulching is a must to keep weeds from overtaking this uncompetitive plant and keep its roots cool during the heat. Tree bark is best for this.

As for pot growing – You’ll want to choose one that’s at least 30cm deep. This is because this plant’s roots dig deep and can easily become rootbound. Repotting once every 2 years in early autumn is highly advised.

Christmas Bells should be grown in full sun with partial shade during the hottest parts of the day. Water requirements are rather high. They need to be watered every two days starting when the first flower spikes shows and even more frequently during the hottest period. You can lay off the watering in winter when the plant is dormant.

Christmas Bush

Christmas Bush
Anne Powell /

Actually, three different plants are known under the name Christmas Bush, but we will pay attention to the most widespread one – Ceratopetalum Gummiferum. This sun-loving shrub blooms in either white or red star-shaped flower and can reach heights of 10m. Unfortunately, when cultivated it rarely exceeds 5m in height. The blossoms are often used in flower arrangements and can even be made into garlands to decorate your house with. The reason we like this one so much is because it actually changes color. They start off white around October when the flowers appear, then the petals fall off and the sepals start enlarging and turning festive red right around Christmas.

Care tips:

Christmas Bush prefers a sunny or partly shaded spot in well-draining sandy soil. Protection from winds will make this shrub thrive and keep well-formed foliage.

Watering should be done regularly in spring and summer, but be careful not to overdo it. The soil should never remain soggy for extended periods of time, since these shrubs are prone to root rot.

These love a light pruning around February or when the glorious red display has passed. Don’t worry about cutting large sections to use for wreaths. The plant will recover nicely as long as you don’t cut into old branches or hardwood.

Christmas Orchid

christmas orchid
shihina /

Christmas Orchids are delicate, pleasant scented, and thrive in Straya’s rainforests. They have snowy white flowers that clumped together look like delicate lace. Even when not in bloom their waxy leaves offer an appealing splash of green. Christmas orchids are perfect for growing in a pot, and thus make an excellent Christmas gift for that special someone.

Care tips:

Like all orchids, these are relatively picky, although not as much as others. They thrive in shaded areas. They prefer well-drained soil that is kept moist and not allowed to go dry. Don’t worry about it – The Christmas orchid isn’t as susceptible to overwatering as other species.

You could grow these in the garden in a shaded heavily mulched spot, but we really recommend you grow them in a pot. This allows better control over the soil and it makes it easier to protect the tender plant from the numerous pests that would want to snack on it.

Christmas Tree

australian christmas tree
Uwe Bergwitz /

These beauties grow in the deserts of Western Australia. Their name comes from the fact that they bloom throughout the Christmas season. Their blossoms produce a spectacular bright yellow fluffy crown. And if that isn’t enough for you – They are actually in the mistletoe family. The gum this tree produces is a sweet delicacy traditional for the Nyungar people.

Unfortunately, the Christmas Tree is almost impossible to be grown out of its natural habitat due to its very specific feeding. It’s a hemiparasitic tree that sinks it’s roots in those of other species and steals nutrients from them in addition to photosynthesis.  It doesn’t take much from its neighbours, but it usually casts a net so broad the resulting benefit is quite considerable.

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