Christmas houseplants you can grow outside after the festive season

Narcissus 'Tete a Tete' can be moved outside.Narcissus 'Tete a Tete' can be moved outside.
Narcissus 'Tete a Tete' can be moved outside.
If you’ve managed to keep your houseplants going over the festive season, you can plant some of them out in the garden in 2024, to bring you colour and texture for years to come.

Emma O’Neill, head gardener at the horticultural charity Garden Organic, says it may be possible to transfer the following plants to your outside space, although some will need keeping indoors until it warms up a bit.

Rhododendron simsii (Christmas azalea)

These plants are forced in warm humid conditions to be sold as pot plants over the Christmas period, flowering rich red, she explains. However, they can be grown outside in frost free areas, or alternatively be put outside during the summer months, from May to September. They require an acid soil or ericaceous compost mix and prefer cool, humid conditions in partial or dappled shade.

Christmas trees

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Pot-grown trees which you have kept watered indoors or on your porch during the festive season may be suitable to plant out as architectural specimens in the garden, O’Neill advises.

Picea pungens glauca group – evergreen and low maintenance, it requires no pruning. It has blue tinged needles and is slow growing and holds on to its needles when indoors.

Abies koreana – another low maintenance tree with dark green evergreen foliage and a white under-stripe. It’s a compact conical tree that also produces attractive blue-purple cones.

Abies fraseri – has the advantage of a lovely scent and great needle holding abilities, also low maintenance, bearing cones summer through to autumn.

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“All prefer full sun, in moist, well-drained soil – with the picea preferring a slightly acidic soil,” she says. They will need some protection from drying winds and can be planted after Christmas, providing the ground isn’t frozen.

Of course, you won’t be able to revive a cut Christmas tree – but these can be recycled either at your local recycling centre, or check with your local authority, which may arrange special collections in early January, or drop-off points for real trees.

Narcissus ‘Tête-à-tête’

This hardy, short daffodil is one of the first to flower and is often used in festive arrangements. If you wish to keep them for next year for outdoors, let them die down naturally (this can be outside) and then plant them into the ground twice the depth of the bulb in the autumn, O’Neill suggests. Ideally use at the front of borders and deadhead.


“These strong scented bulbs are ideal in containers, and once yours have finished flowering indoors, put them outside to die down naturally and then plant them in the ground the following autumn or into outdoor containers,” she says. They are fully hardy in the ground but may get caught by frost if left in containers. When planting, put them in the ground with the tips showing. They need full sun to flower well.

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O’Neill suggests other plants that may tolerate going out in the late spring/summer include:

Schlumbergera buckleyi – your Christmas cactus may have been flowering its heart out over the festive season, but it is a tender plant, so it can only be put outdoors during the warmer months, from June to September, when all danger of frost has passed. It needs part or full shade as can get burnt in the sun.

Hedera helix (English ivy) – may have featured in a Christmas plant display, but if you dig it out carefully from the pot, keeping the roots intact, you can plant it out in spring. Most ivies will adapt to all types of conditions.

Helleborus niger (Christmas rose): These elegant perennials actually prefer being grown outside, but if you’ve kept it healthy in a cool place with plenty of light over the festive season, it may survive being transferred to the garden in spring, once flowering has finished.

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It will need hardening off, so gradually give it time outdoors, firstly in a sheltered area next to the house, to stop it going into shock. Once it has acclimatised to being left out overnight, you can plant it in the garden, in partial shade, in an area which is sheltered from afternoon sun.

Holly (Ilex aquifolium): All holly is hardy – but it does depend on the variety, so check the label. Put outside gradually, as it will be a shock to go from the warm to the cold immediately, placing it in a cold frame or polytunnel or taking it indoors at night for two weeks to slowly acclimatise.

Holly likes full sun in a sheltered spot, so try to avoid wind tunnels, and it prefers slightly acidic soil. If it doesn’t like where it’s been placed, its leaves will turn yellow. And remember that to get berries, you need a male and a female plant.

“Container shrubs like this can be planted any time – but not when the ground is frozen,” O’Neill says.