12 Poinsettia Alternatives for Beautiful Décor This Holiday Season

Scandinavian-style Christmas decor in the living room - a spruce wreath on the wall, a vase with cranberry branches on a white chest of drawers
© Kiian Oksana/Shutterstock.com

Written by Nikita Ross

Updated: December 5, 2023

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Poinsettias are among the most iconic floral Christmas decorations, known for their lovely red petals and green foliage that fit the festive season. However, their potentially toxic nature and short lifespan leave many holiday decor enthusiasts seeking poinsettia alternatives.

In this article, we’ll share 12 poinsettia alternatives and beautiful decor tips for this holiday season.

Let’s dig in!

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus in front of a window.

The Christmas cactus can live up to 100 years with proper care.

©iStock.com/Nadezhda_Nesterova

Christmas cactuses are another popular floral decor option for the holiday season. This poinsettia alternative is also lower maintenance with a longer lifespan. You can also propagate your Christmas cactus for a gift that keeps on giving.

Care for your Christmas cactus by providing well-draining soil and plenty of sunlight. Providing fertilizer when your cactus starts to bud will help promote healthy blooms.

Holly

Agriculture, Autumn, Beauty, Berry, Branch - Plant Part

Holly is another festive symbol of the holiday season.

©iStock.com/Nazanin Esfandyarpour

If you love poinsettias’ red and green look, Holly is the next clear choice. These festive berries shine bright against their green foliage and look incredible when arranged with lights and snow. Take your holiday decor to the next level with a Winterberry Bonsai Tree for something truly unique and special.

A word of warning to pet parents: if you’re looking for a pet-safe poinsettia alternative, Holly is the wrong choice. These berries are toxic to pets and humans.

Mistletoe

Young girl holding a wicker basket with mistletoe branches with green leaves and white berries.

The use of mistletoe in winter celebrations dates back to pre-Christianity.

©Oksana_Schmidt/iStock via Getty Images

Kissing under the mistletoe is a winter tradition dating back to ancient times. While this plant is a pest in nature, it’s a beautiful decor alternative to poinsettias. Pearl-like white berries and green foliage make this an eye-catching decor piece when hung over tables or displayed in baskets with fairy lights.

Unfortunately, mistletoe is toxic to humans and pets and should be displayed out of reach from curious critters and kids.

Roses & Rose Hips

Red roses in a sunny garden

Red roses make an elegant statement during the holidays.

©Maria Rzeszotarska/iStock via Getty Images

Swap out your poinsettias for some stunning red roses to make an elegant statement this holiday season. These beautiful blooms offer the same aesthetic without the toxic nature of poinsettias, making them ideal for a pet-friendly home.

Bonus tip: Rose hips are a safe alternative to holly berries to display around pets and children.

Cranberries

Scandinavian-style Christmas decor in the living room - a spruce wreath on the wall, a vase with cranberry branches on a white chest of drawers

Cranberries are a festive, pet-friendly alternative to poinsettias and holly.

©Kiian Oksana/Shutterstock.com

While a scoop of cranberries tastes great with turkey, it’s also a natural, pet-friendly alternative to poinsettias. These berries look great on branches or floating in water with candles for an eye-catching centerpiece. The best part is you can toss them outside for the birds to enjoy when the holiday season has passed!

Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger)

Christmas, Rose; Helleborus; niger

Despite the name, the Christmas Rose is a member of the

Ranunculaceae

family.

©emer1940/iStock via Getty Images

Christmas roses aren’t true roses, but they are a stunning poinsettia alternative. These stellate white blooms with cheerful yellow centers have lore dating back to Biblical times, making them symbolic of the Christmas season.

Like poinsettias, Helleborus niger is toxic and unsafe for pets.

Rosemary Trees

Mini Rosemary Christmas Tree in Studio with a Gold Star Shot in HDR

Rosemary trees are an eco-friendly decor piece that smells amazing.

©Gary A Chong/Shutterstock.com

Pivot away from the floral arrangements for something unique and versatile with a rosemary tree. You can grow this decor piece yourself and decorate it as you see fit. Add some miniature cranberry ornaments and fairy lights for a whimsical tree you can safely place anywhere in the home.

When you’re done with the decor, you can even use this piece to elevate your turkey dinner.

Norfolk Island Pine

Norfolk Island Pine Tree Indoors - 'Norfolk Island Pine Bonsai'

You can grow a potted Norfolk Island Pine indoors.

©Navaashay/Shutterstock.com

Another potted tree option is the Norfolk Island Pine. While this option works as a natural poinsettia alternative, it also makes the perfect eco-friendly or minimalist Christmas tree.

Consider blending your decor and decorating your Norfolk Island Pine with cranberries or roses to get the contrast of red and green. This indoor tree needs plenty of light, sandy soil, and consistent moisture.

Peace Lilies

Spath or peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) is a monocotyledonous flowering plant in the family Araceae, native to tropical regions of America and Asia. Macro close up of white flowers in bright sunlight.

This tropical flower is often associated with peace, joy, and hope.

©ON-Photography Germany/Shutterstock.com

If the red and green aesthetic is feeling overdone, the Peace Lily is a stunning poinsettia alternative. Unlike many tropical flowers, this beauty is relatively low maintenance, making it a perfect gift that will last up to five years with proper care.

Provide your Peace Lily with plenty of light, well-draining soil, and regular deadheading to promote healthy blooming.

English Ivy

Ivy is an oft-forgotten symbol of Christmas.

©ArtBackground/Shutterstock.com

While holly is commonly associated with Christmas, it was often depicted with ivy in the bible. This evergreen plant is easy to grow, and its use in decor and ceremonies dates back thousands of years.

Display some trailing ivy along a mantle, or hang it in festive pots for a bit of seasonal flair.

Sage

Mexican Red Sage (salvia fulgens)

Sage was often used in winter ceremonies during Pagan times.

©Peter Turner Photography/Shutterstock.com

Another plant dating back to pre-Christian winter rituals, sage is a lovely poinsettia alternative. It comes in a variety of colors with lush, aromatic foliage. Like rosemary trees, you can even use certain varieties to spruce up your holiday dishes.

Incorporate sage leaves into your arrangements, or try to grow red sage to suit the festive shades.

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus

The silvery hue of eucalyptus adds a magical touch to winter decor.

©iStock.com/Marina Denisenko

Decorating with eucalyptus offers festive shades of green and silver and a soothing aroma that also helps offset winter cold symptoms — the perfect combination!

Display these in vases, as centerpieces, along mantles, or create your own wreath. Incorporate flowers, berries, and lights for a stunning display.


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About the Author

Nikita Ross is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering plants, gardening, and yard care. Nikita has been writing for over seven years and holds a Marketing diploma from NSCC, which she earned in 2010. A resident of Canada, Nikita enjoys reading in her library, epic beach naps, and waiting for her Coffea arabica plant to produce coffee beans (no luck yet).

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