This time of year is one of my favorites—the sparkling twinkle lights, the cozy sweaters, the tasty treats, and the art of finding the perfect gift for everyone on my list. The only downside? It can be seriously lacking in the live plants department, especially here in Minnesota.
That’s where houseplants come in. They can add a welcome burst of life to your home decor all year long, but you can also incorporate them into your holiday decorating! Here are our favorite red and green leaf plant suggestions, to add to your Christmas spirit.
There are several varieties of aglaonema, or Chinese evergreen, whose green leaves are shot through with red. Some even have red or pink stems! Look for Aglaonema ‘Ruby Red’ or Aglaonema ‘Siam Aurora Red.’ Aglaonema are low maintenance houseplants, making them a great place to start for beginners.
Ficus Elastica Ruby
When given enough indirect light, the leaves of ficus elastica ‘Ruby,’ or a Ruby rubber tree, are a lovely tricolor array of green, pink, and red. Ficus elastica can be a little picky about their location, and are quick to drop leaves. If you notice this happening, make sure your plant is getting plenty of light (but not direct sunlight), and allow the soil to dry most of the way through before watering thoroughly. Once your ficus is happy again, try to leave it right where it is—if you relocate, the rubber tree will go through another acclimation process and lose more leaves for a bit.
Not feeling the Christmas tree this year? Try using a dragon tree as your focal point instead. Dracaena marginata, commonly called a dragon tree, has long, grass-shaped leaves that are lined with a reddish-pink. A dragon tree can be grown in either shrub or tree form, depending on how you prune it—these make great floor plants when shaped into a tree!
Crotons, or codiaeum variegatum, come in a riotous rainbow of colors, so you’ll have several options to choose from. For the most striking red, look for ‘Red Iceton,’ ‘Mammy,’ or ‘Magnificent.’
Crotons can be picky about their location and growing conditions, especially in places with especially cold winters. We recommend these plants for intermediate indoor plant parents, rather than beginners.
With over a thousand species of peperomia, there is sure to be one to fit whatever space you’re working with. These plants are easy to care for, and great for beginners who may be prone to forgetting a watering session. Peperomia Rosso and peperomia Graveolens both have green leaves with striking red undersides, while peperomia ‘Schumi Red’ has deep red, rippled leaves.
Red Earth Star
This plant has the botanical name cryptanthus bivittatus, but often goes by Red Earth Star, Starfish Plant, or Red Star Bromeliad. To keep your Earth star flourishing, be sure to bottom water. And don’t panic if it starts to die back after it blooms—that’s what this plant does! After flowering, Earth stars start to die back and put out pups, or baby plants.
When it comes to begonias, there are two routes you can go to bring a red and green leaf plant into your home: cane begonia or rex begonia.
For cane begonias, several angel wings have dark green leaves with bold burgundy undersides. Rex begonias’ colorful leaves come in a wide variety of shades, and there is sure to be one with red foliage that fits in with your holiday decor.
Maranta (Prayer Plants)
The red prayer plant’s green leaves are lined with red veins. The maranta leuconeura red has similar care needs to calathea, but tends to be a little less particular about its humidity and water purity. Like calathea, its green and red leaves fold up at night into a “praying position,” then splay outwards again in the morning.
Polka dot plant
The common name of hypoestes phyllostachya, the polka dot plant, gives away exactly what the foliage on these plants look like—they are covered in brightly colored polka dots! Available in red, purple, white, or pink, these plants are eye catching and stay fairly small when grown indoors.
Also known as the flamingo flower or painter’s palette, this houseplant comes in several colors, including red. This anthurium is great for adding some elegant height to your holiday decorations!
Other Red and Green Leaf Plant Ideas (Aroids)
There are several philodendrons and other aroids that are a little more rare that also have red and green foliage. These are going to be a little pricier, but plant parents with varied collections will enjoy these:
- Syngonium Llani Carto Road
- Philodendron Imperial Red
- Philodendron Red Heart
- Philodendron Red Emerald
- Philodendron Congo Rojo
While it isn’t the foliage that is red, but rather flowers, a holiday cactus will add a beautiful splash of color—and who doesn’t love some fresh blooms in mid-winter? Often sold as an Easter cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, or Christmas cactus, the key differences between the holiday cacti are when they bloom and the shape of their leaves. To have blooms while all your holiday decorations are up, go for a Thanksgiving or Christmas cactus.
And don’t forget the Christmas classics
We’d be remiss if we didn’t make note of the Christmas classics. Cyclamens and amaryllis may both boast red blooms, and the bulbs can be returned to their blooming glory year after year if cared for properly.
And of course, there is the poinsettia, or euphorbia pulcherrima. Contrary to popular belief, the red, white, or pink “flowers” are actually colorful leaves, or bracts. Poinsettias, too, can be maintained throughout the year to turn vibrant and colorful again each winter.