Roll Out The Red Tropicals For The Holidays!


As we approach the holiday season, you are likely well on your way making plans for your holiday displays. The hustle to put in the reds, greens, golds, silvers, and blues with all the lights and decorations can be a thrill. When plants are involved, for most of you, poinsettias are almost always an important part of your displays. However, these sensitive plants, even the newer, longer-lasting varieties, can be a major cause of headaches. With poinsettias comes the constant battle to keep them looking their best, which usually includes a lot of replacements! The delicate nature, sensitivity to cold, and need for extra care might make you wish the Grinch actually would steal the poinsettias. Tropicals can be a great alternative to make up part of your holiday design. These plants can be longer lasting, easier to care for, and provide great color!

Why not try some Aglaonemas as part of your holiday décor? We’re all very familiar with how well-suited Aglaonemas are for interior use. Their ability to withstand the lower light levels, their easy-to-care-for nature, and dynamic and beautiful foliage are tried and true. Newer to the scene are the colored varieties! There are so many Algaonema cultivars that it can be difficult to keep up with all of them. More hybrids are being created all the time! Below are some of the most popular colored Aglaonemas being commercially produced that can give you color that you need while being easier to care for than poinsettias. While not all of them may be available, these will give you some ideas of what to look for to find an option that could fit the bill.

Aglaonema Red Valentine 10 inch
Aglaonema Red Valentine 10 inch

Aglaonema ‘Red Valentine’

Red Valentine is a striking variety that provides a lot of color. These have mostly red leaves with green around the edges and splashes of green throughout. Their wide, stout leaves really stand out but are less upright than other varieties. These are grown in 6”, 8”, and 10” grow pots.

Aglaonema ‘Siam‘ or ‘Creta

These varieties are names of Aglaonemas that are very similar and sometimes interchanged. These options will give you a lot of red, not just around the edges, but with a reddish pink midrib and splashes of red that work their way toward the midrib. These are typically grown in 6”, 8”, and 10” grow pots.

If you don’t need quite as much red, the Aglaonemas below still provide a lot of color!

Aglaonema ‘Etta Rose’

Etta Rose offers beautiful variegated creamy white and green foliage. Pink splashes appear on the foliage in higher light conditions. This variety is grown in 6”, 8”, and 10” pots.

Aglaonema ‘Emerald Holiday’

Emerald Holiday is a striking variety with pale pink stems and variegated leaves that have a red midrib with gold and pink splashes. This variety is available in 6”, 8”, and 10” pots.

Aglaonema ‘Sapphire Suzanne’

Sapphire Suzanne features green foliage with a thin and distinct red outer edge and have pink stems. These are typically grown in 6”, 8”, and 10” grow pots.

Aglaonema ‘Sparkling Sarah’

Vibrant color with wide green leaves featuring a red midrib and splashes of yellow and pink. Sparkling Sarah is a popular Aglaonema variety all year long and can add some “sparkle” to your displays! This plant is available in 6”, 8” and 10” pots.

Pair your colored Aglaonemas with other red tropical plants to really tie the display together! Here are some other tropicals that work perfectly for your holiday display.

Guzmania Nancy 6 inch
Guzmania Nancy 6 inch


Bromeliads can be a great part of the holiday display. Look for red Guzmanias such as ‘Nancy’, ‘Zamora’, ‘Switch’, and ‘Flame’. Check to see which red Guzmania will be available when you are ready to install—there are many varieties that change weekly. You may also want to consider Neoregelias. These are flat, low profile Bromeliads that provide spectacular color. Neoregelias like ‘Perfecta Tricolor’, ‘Ardie’, and ‘Rafael’ have beautiful variegated foliage with a red center. Varieties like ‘Roots & Roots’ and ‘Malbec’ offer a complete red-burgundy look. You can also make a statement by incorporating a unique Vriesea: ‘Splenreit’ has a red-orange sword bloom, while ‘Mint Julep’ offers great mottled green foliage.


Anthuriums are also great tropical options to be included in displays. There are many red options that can bring the holiday cheer and help you not break the bank. Look for Anthuriums like ‘Pacora’, ‘Red Rocket’, and ‘Red Victory’. White Anthuriums such as ‘White Heart’ can provide a nice counterpoint to the red in your displays. These varieties often change, so be sure to check which will be available at the time you need them.

For even more customization, try these plants where you can add your own color and pizazz. These are a great way to add your own red or other color that goes with your overall theme, while still keeping plants as an important player.

Ivy Topiaries

Ivy topiaries can come in so many shapes and sizes: globes, cones (ie, Christmas tree shaped), hoops and wreaths, just to name a few.  The green ivy plants are grown until the vines are long enough that they can be wrapped around the wire of the desired topiary shape. What makes these great options for the holidays is that you can add your own personal touch with decorations, lights, and bows. These generally come in 4 inch to 10 inch pots and prefer bright light.

Eugenia Topiaries

If you have an outdoor display area with full sun or a high-light indoor area, Eugenia Topiaries are a great holiday look. These are available in styles such as Spiral, Cone, 2 and 3 Balls, and are very versatile for use after the holidays as well.

Norfolk Island Pine Decorated 10 inch
Norfolk Island Pine Decorated 10 inch

Norfolk Island Pine

This living Christmas tree is a slow grower with shiny, dark green needles. Their use is only limited by your creativity and imagination. Norfolk Island Pines do very well indoors in medium to high light. Norfolk Island Pines come in a wide range of pot sizes, from 3” to 29”. See the November 2012 issue of I-Plants Magazine for an even more in-depth look at this great tropical option for your holiday display.

Don’t let poinsettias rule the holiday season. While your customers no doubt have grown to love and expect the poinsettias, keep in mind there are many tropical plants that can come in like Rudolph the red nose reindeer and guide your holiday display to success!




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