If you’re poised to buy a poinsettia, nudging towards a narcissi or angling for an azalea, leaf through some of our TV gardeners’ favourites for houseplant inspiration this festive season.


Joe Swift

The garden designer, TV presenter and writer, who will be sharing gardening tips at BBC Gardeners’ World Live at the NEC Birmingham (Jun 13–16) and at the BBC Gardeners’ World Autumn Fair (Aug 30-Sep 1), loves the traditional poinsettia.

“It may not be real gardening, but you can’t beat a poinsettia for Christmas. When I had a plant shop in Islington, I sold hundreds of them, and the choice was simple – red or white!

Great British Life: Christmas poinsettiaChristmas poinsettia (Image: Alamy/PA)

“Being an Arsenal fan that worked for me. I see there’s now an orange flowered variety – I’m yet to be convinced!

“They look best in a nice pot on a sideboard or table arrangement and sure, they look good by themselves, but as with most of these things, more will create impact.”

Daisy Payne

The Dobbies ambassador and This Morning gardening expert says: “Having sat around the same table year after year as a family since I was little, in the background has always been a beautiful Christmas cactus. It was given to my dad by my great grandmother, Daisy, who of course I’m named after, which is why it’s my favourite Christmas houseplant.

Great British Life: Christmas cactusChristmas cactus (Image: Alamy/PA)

“The flowers on a Christmas cactus are beautiful and delicate, at a time when little else is in flower. They’re resilient too. Come the new year, a houseplant is a great way to fill the Christmas decoration void you feel, when the festivities come down.”

Great British Life: Alan TitchmarshAlan Titchmarsh (Image: Alamy/PA)

Alan Titchmarsh

“Evergreen Christmas azaleas always tempt me at the garden centre because of their elegant shrubby habit and the fact that they are smothered in pink, white or crimson flowers for weeks on end,” says the TV garden presenter, horticulturist and author, who will be one of the key special guests at next year’s RHS Malvern Spring Festival (May 9—12).

Great British Life: Christmas azaleaChristmas azalea (Image: Alamy/PA)

“They love a bright position in a cool room and benefit from being watered once a day with cooled boiled water. Don’t leave them standing in water, but never let the rootball dry out. It’s a great plant for a bright but not sun-scorched kitchen windowsill near the kettle!”

Sarah Raven

“For the Christmas period, you can’t go wrong with Narcissi ‘Paperwhites’ – a beautifully fragrant and nostalgic daffodil that looks beautiful over the festive period and well into the new year,” says the TV presenter, plantswoman and teacher who runs cooking, flower arranging, growing and gardening courses at Perch Hill, her farm in East Sussex.

“You can plant the bulbs in pots (or buy already planted) and then move them into your final table centre as they come into flower, or simply plant them straight into their final planting pot from the start,” says Raven, whose new book A Year Full Of Pots (Bloomsbury) is published in March.

Great British Life: Narcissus 'Paperwhites'Narcissus 'Paperwhites' (Image: Alamy/PA)

“Narcissus papyraceus ‘Ziva’ is a pure white, highly fragrant, multi-headed daffodil that makes a classic winter houseplant. Place one pot on top of another – like a tiered wedding cake – for a spectacular winter table centrepiece.

“Pot these up yourself with branches of silver birch or hazel at the base, and as a final touch, hang silver and clear glass baubles on the twigs and surround the whole thing with a halo of candles on the table.”

Great British Life: Mark LaneMark Lane (Image: MSL Creative/Mark Lane Designs Ltd/PA)

Mark Lane

The Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, takes a lot of beating, says the broadcaster, garden designer, BBC Gardeners’ World presenter and gardening expert for stairlift company Stannah.

“This is an early-flowering hellebore and invariably blooms in time for the festive season. With dainty, nodding, large white open-cupped flowers these gorgeous plants look stunning in 9cm pots down the centre of a festive table.

Great British Life: Helleborus niger, the Christmas roseHelleborus niger, the Christmas rose (Image: Alamy/PA)

“Place mirrors or reflective materials on the table and their reflected nodding faces can be seen in all their glory. Failing that, remove some of the flowers, leaving a short 2-3cm length of stem attached to the flower and float on water with floating tealights.”

You can remove the faded blooms, spray them with biodegradable glitter paint and hang them from your Christmas tree or garlands, he suggests.

Great British Life: Rekha MistryRekha Mistry (Image: Rachel Warne/Dorling Kindersley/PA)

Rekha Mistry

BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Rekha Mistry, author of Rekha’s Kitchen Garden (DK), cites lemongrass as her favourite festive houseplant.

“My favourite festive plant is just like me. Tuck indoors in a bright warm room during the autumn-winter months and in the summer lemongrass lavishes outdoors in the suntrap corner of the house. Even a ‘festive houseplant’ has to have edible value to it.

Great British Life: Lemongrass leavesLemongrass leaves (Image: Alamy/PA)

“Lemongrass, an evergreen grass in my mother’s kitchen garden, was the biggest clump of grass. Around a metre wide, towering over 5ft in height, she’d warn us not to go too close to its razor sharp leaves. She would harvest the stalks in special day curries.

“She would snip the long, glaucous green leaves, air-dry them which made their way into a strong brew of masala chai. Now, I dry and whizz the stalks into powder. The fragrance never fails to evoke childhood memories.”