Beautiful winter houseplants and how to care for them

Banish the winter blues and bring home some seasonal cheer by growing houseplants to brighten dark days

As the nights draw in, bringing colour and variety into our homes with houseplants can add a touch of seasonal interest and joy. Houseplants come in all shapes and sizes, many with architecturally stunning foliage, and others with beautiful blooms in every colour – there’s something for everyone. Discover our choice selection of winter interest houseplants to suit your home or indoor space.

Christmas cactus

Showy and unusual, the Christmas cactus makes a long-lived houseplant
Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) are unusual and attractive houseplants. Unlike most cacti they come from forests and they aren’t spiny, either. Their flattened stems have an architectural quality all year round but their star quality is their abundant, brightly coloured flowers borne over the cooler months. 


Let the scent of Mediterranean springtime develop in your living room
With possibly the best scent of any houseplant, jasmine (​Jasminum polyanthum) is an old favourite. Delicate pink buds open to white, star-shaped flowers. It’s a climbing plant, with several hardy relatives that are often grown outdoors in gardens. If you live in a mild area, and have a warm, south-facing wall, try planting it in your garden after it has finished flowering.


Hippeastrum are also known as amaryllis
These flowers come in a wide range of colours
Also known as amaryllis, Hippeastrum are some of the most dramatic flowering plants you can grow indoors. With their huge blooms in tones of pink, red, green or white, they’re a popular Christmas gift. Bear in mind that they’re bulbs, so will naturally die back over the summer and begin re-growing again in autumn. Feed with high-potash liquid feed such as tomato food when in growth to encourage abundant flowering. 


Colourful, pretty and inexpensive too, cyclamen are popular houseplants
Another traditional favourite, indoor cyclamen (cultivars of Cyclamen persicum) come in a huge range of colours. Some even have attractively fringed petals too. Always water them from the base and be careful not to overwater them as they can be prone to rot. You can keep them going from year to year; just make sure you give them a dry resting period over the summer before re-starting watering in early autumn. 

How to care for houseplants over winter

To keep your favourite winter-interest houseplants in top condition through the colder months they’ll need occasional watering and little to no feeding. A few tricks of the trade will help you to get the best from your plants – see our top tips on caring for indoor houseplants

Top tips from the RHS Gardening Advisors

1. Don’​t overwater! With lower light levels and lower temperatures, plants will be growing less – so they will need less water. In particular, watch out for plants sitting in water. If you’re using pot covers (i.e. decorative clay or metal pots that hide the plastic pots the plants are growing in), revisit your plants 10 minutes after watering and tip away any excess.

2. Consider humidity. Central heating can dry out the air indoors, which makes life tough for some plants. Ferns and many thin-leaved foliage plants such as calatheas and marantas, along with orchids, will appreciate being stood on a wide tray of pebbles topped up with water. Also, group plants for shared humidity.

3. Let there be light! While it’s good to keep most houseplants away from harsh summer sunlight, in winter the light levels are much lower so it can be worth bringing plants out of dark corners for a ‘holiday’ somewhere brighter and help them get through the darker months.

4. Feel the heat: winter presents a double set of challenges for houseplants. Being too near radiators or fires can crisp delicate leaves and being left in the cold on windowsills and behind curtains can damage some plants. Orchids are particularly vulnerable: if they get too cold, the flower buds will fall off. If you can, place your houseplants away from any extremes of temperature and avoid draughts, too. 

My favourite winter houseplant is the Schlumbergera as I like the combination of succulent foliage and abundance of flower. They are also nice and easy to propagate from leaf sections in spring.

James Lawrence, RHS Gardening Advisor

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