A week of flowers 2022, Day seven

Cathy’s Words and Herbs’ challenge for one week.

When I visited New Zealand for the first time in December 2007,

I fell in love with the Pohutukawa tree. I know its not a flower, but this tree bears red flowers!

It will always remind me of Christmas!

Pohutukawa tree

Metrosideros excelsa, commonly known as pōhutukawa (Māori: pōhutukawa), New Zealand Christmas tree, New Zealand Christmas bush, and iron tree,  is a coastal evergreen tree in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae, that produces a brilliant display of red (or occasionally orange, yellow  or white flowers, each consisting of a mass of stamens. The pōhutukawa is one of twelve Metrosideros species endemic to New Zealand.

Pohutukawa tree, New Zealand

Renowned for its vibrant colour and its ability to survive even perched on rocky, precarious cliffs, it has found an important place in New Zealand culture for its strength and beauty, and is regarded as a chiefly tree (rākau rangatira) by Māori.


A week of flowers 2022, Day six

Cathy’s Words and Herbs’ challenge for one week.

Guzmanias (Bromeliads)

Bromeliads give you more of a modern feel and are very long-lasting when grown as houseplants. Guzmanias are popular blooming houseplants that are sold year-round and are easy to find.

Guzmanias (Bromeliads)

Their star-shaped bracts in red, as shown above, are very appropriate for the season although you can find them in other colors too.

A week of flowers 2021, Day five

Cathy’s Words and Herbs’ challenge for one week.

Red Roses

Red roses aren’t just for romantic occasions – they’re also staples of Christmas bouquets. Their vivid colour perfectly matches the traditional colours of the season, giving bouquets an instantly festive look. We especially love them paired with seasonal green berries and golden foliage, for that classic Christmas colour combination. 


Red roses also work well in table centrepieces, bringing a vibrant pop of colour to your Christmas table. 

Cut red roses last a week or more in water. If you’re wanting to use them in your Christmas decorations, I would recommend ordering them to arrive a couple of days before Christmas. This will mean they’ll still look beautiful a few days after Christmas.

Roses in a garden

A week of flowers 2022, Day four

Cathy’s Words and Herbs’ challenge for one week.

The Christmas cactus is a very popular houseplant—and for good reason! When they bloom, they produce colorful, tubular flowers in pink or lilac colors. Their beautiful flowers, long bloom time, and easy care requirements make them a wonderful plant. I’ll bet someone in your family has a Christmas cactus!

Christmas cactus

About Christmas Cacti

Unlike other cacti, the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) and its relatives don’t live in hot, arid environments such as deserts or plains. In fact, these epiphytic succulents are native to the tropical rainforests of southern Brazil, where they grow on tree branches and soak up the high humidity, dappled sunlight, and warm temperatures.

Christmas Cactus

The bottom line: Don’t treat a Christmas cactus like it’s a run-of-the-mill cactus or succulent. They can’t take the same sort of sunny, dry conditions that other cacti can. It’s important to water these cacti more regularly than most succulents, but to also be cautious of keeping them too wet.

Christmas Cactus

A week of flowers 2022, Day three

Cathy’s Words and Herbs’ challenge for one week.

South African Christmas Roses

While we think Hellebores are Christmas Roses, Hydrangeas are commonly known as Christmas Roses in South Africa. They are appreciated as prolific bloomers. While we freeze in the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas is hot in the Southern Hemisphere. Hydrangeas begin blooming in November there and continue flowering into the New Year. Here, the summer’s showy Hydrangea flowers are spent shadows of their former glory until Jack Frost makes them sparkle anew.

Origin and Colours

Hydrangea bush

Hydrangeas are neither indigenous to the UK or South Africa. The popular Hydrangea macrophylla is native to Japan. It has been naturalised in a number countries across the world. The flowers are noted for their colour variations according to soil pH. Hydrangea macrophylla come in shades of blue, red, pink, light purple or dark purple. Acidic soil produces a blue flower, while an alkaline soil tends towards pink.

Plant Family

The Hydrangea genus belongs in the Hydrangeaceae or Hortensia family and Cornales order. There are around 66 species in the genus. The name Hydrangea originates from the Greek words for water (hydor) and a vase/vessel (angeio). It refers to the seed capsules.

UK Frost


Hydrangea flowers have long gone over at Christmas in the UK. The russet-edged flowers can still add interest to the garden. They look particularly interesting in the first frost. The old flowerhead can be gathered, dried and incorporated into Christmas wreaths.

A week of flowers 2022, Day two

Cathy’s Words and Herbs’ challenge for one week

2. Poinsettia

White poinsettia

There’s no Christmas plant more iconic than the Poinsettia. It’s the most popular houseplant in the UK at Christmas, and with its gorgeous mixture of red and green festive foliage, it’s easy to see why. Around 8 million are sold every single year. Red varieties are by far the most popular, but other colours, including white and pink, are also grown. 

Poinsettias are a little different to other flowering plants. The popular red ‘petals’ are actually bracts, the upper leaves of the plant. The flowers themselves are tiny, but can be seen nestled in the middle of the leaves, and are usually green or yellow in colour.

Poinsettias are native to Central America, where they flower in the winter. In Mexico, they are part of a Christmas legend. It’s said that a poor girl was looking for a present to give to the baby Jesus at a Christmas service, but there was little she could afford, and so she resorted to bringing a small bouquet of weeds from the road. When she placed the humble bouquet at the Nativity scene, it transformed into the beautiful red Poinsettia.

Poinsettia Care Tips

To help keep your Poinsettia looking healthy and fresh over the festive period, you can follow a few simple care tips. Keep the plant in bright sunlight for around six hours a day, whilst keeping it away from direct sunlight, drafts, and heat. The soil should be kept moist, but you should avoid overwatering and having it sit in excess water. Wait until the top layer of soil is dry to the touch before adding more water. 

When cared for properly, the flowers and bracts on Poinsettias can last for a few months. Once the plant has finished blooming in the spring, you should trim back the stem and prune old leaves and flowers. 

Poinsettias and Christmas Cake

It can be tricky to get them to rebloom the following Christmas, but you can help Poinsettias along by watering them and occasionally adding fertiliser to the soil throughout the year. To encourage them to bloom again, it’s recommended to leave them in complete darkness for 14 hours a night starting in October. This can be done simply by covering the plant with a box, or placing it in a cupboard. This kickstarts the flowering process and colour change from green to fiery red.

A week of flowers 2022, Day one

Cathy’s Words and Herbs’ challenge for one week.

Certain blooms are traditionally associated with the season, so in this series we’ll be covering some favourite Christmas flowers and plants.

1. Amaryllis


Amaryllis is a popular Christmas bloom. It blooms with festive bright red flowers that are the perfect match for traditional Christmas colours. Other varieties produce snowy white flowers, ideal for that winter wonderland look. The flowers are very large and trumpet shaped, making them naturally eye catching. 

Despite their wintry reputation, they are actually tropical plants native to South and Central America. Nevertheless, they became popular gifts at Christmas as they can bloom indoors in the winter. Although it’s commonly bought as a plant, it works just as well in bouquets, adding showy flair to arrangements. It looks especially fabulous when paired with other festive foliage like berries.


Amaryllis also has the benefit of being very long lasting. The plants bloom for around 7 weeks at a time, meaning they’ll look stunning throughout the festive period and beyond. Similarly, cut Amaryllis have an impressive vase life, and with proper care will last three weeks or more. Buy a bouquet a couple of weeks before Christmas and you can enjoy it until after the New Year.

In the traditional language of flowers, Amaryllis symbolises strength, confidence, success and determination. The perfect way to send your best wishes for a New Year full of prosperity. 

Note: Interestingly, the plants commonly called ‘Amaryllis’ are actually part of the Hippeastrum genus. The only true Amaryllis is native to South Africa, and is the only plant in that genus. This was eventually decided after many centuries of debate and confusion amongst botanists.  


Friday Florals : Disa atricapilla

Bren’s Friday Florals

Photo credit

Lisa Drogemoller.

Disa atricapilla (Orchidaceae) A perennial up to 30cm with narrow cauline leaves (arising from the stem). The unusual coloured inflorescence is corymbose (flat-topped) with up to 20 flowers, the large wing-like side sepals are red and white with black tips, the petals and lip are maroon and speckled.