It’s the time of year when the city erupts with red, green and gold, and as a Jewish person it can leave you feeling a little left out. Harmonious Christmas carols fill the air while we try our best to match its cheer with “uplifting” minor key songs like “Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah” and “Sivivon”. This holiday FOMO (fear of missing out) gave birth to the always mentioned but seldom seen Hanukkah Bush. The Hanukkah Bush usually manifests as a shared inside joke, but if pursued can feel like a dressed up, knock-off version of the majestic Christmas tree. The concept feels akin to adding vegetables to chicken soup, and trying to call It vegetarian.
Though trained not to admit it, even to myself, I can’t be the only Jewish person out there who feels a tiny twinge of Christmas cheer jealousy. If you happen to feel similarly, don’t despair! Instead of being green with envy, be green with these eight fabulous non-Christmas-y plant ideas.
Have a Jurassic Hanukkah
Get this tree for your Maccabee! Beaucarnea recurvata is the recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. Though its common name is ponytail palm, it’s not related to any true palms. The palm-like stem produces a terminal tuft of strappy leathery leaves. The expanded water storing caudex at its base earned the plant its other common name, elephants-foot. Our featured arrangement, Jurassic Flirt, the ash grey and white bowl pot pairs fabulously with the ponytail palm. It grows in full to partial sun and needs drainage.
Have a Hipster Hanukkah with an assortment of succulents! These trendy little divas are a popular pick for anyone with their finger on the pulse of apartment fashion. Like flowers, these look best when grouped with other quirky succulent friends. Create a windowsill garden of succulents for maximum enjoyment! They’re like pets, except less messy and there’s no special care needed to prevent you from spontaneous vacationing. The color variations are endless from blue-green, chartreuse, pink, purple, white and burgundy. Smartypants, Living Lantern and Art Deco Succulents are some of our best-selling arrangements.
The Hanukkah Palm
Hanukkah bush? Who needs a Hanukkah bush when you have Phoenix roebelenii: a plant as stately as its name. Phoenix roebelinii, the pygmy date palm, has a full head of fronds, stiff spines and a sturdy stout trunk. If you have both the female and male, you might be able to produce flowers and ultimately dates. This plant can serve as a reminder of home away from home; Phoenix roebelenii is closely related to date trees in Israel, as well as date trees in Florida for you snowbirds out there.
At PlantShed, we can make any combination of floral arrangements available. If you prefer to stay within the festive blue and white color scheme, try the Ocean Breeze dining centerpiece, or Sapphire. Outside that color scheme are some of my favorite jaw-dropping arrangements such as Broadway Spectacular, Bahamas and Leilani. Browse through our online Hanukah catalog to see dozens of options!
Feng Shui Hanukkah
In keeping with the holiday tradition of noshing on Chinese food for Christmas, get lucky this year with fortune cookies and Lucky Bamboo. These plants pop up in offices, on desks, in businesses, and in homes pretty much everywhere. An important part of feng shui, Lucky Bamboo plants are said to bring good luck and fortune, especially if the plants were given as gifts. It also helps that they have a well-earned reputation for being nearly indestructible. These tough stalks can survive in vases of pure water or in soil with a wide variety of light conditions. Change water weekly. Shop Bamboo and containers at our shop, located at 209 West 96th Street, New York NY 10025.
If your taste is more classy and elegant, look no further than Gilded Orchids. Gilded Orchids features two white Phalaenopsis orchids nested inside a shiny gold planter. Display Gilded Orchids on your windowsill where the textured gold and pale white flowers can capture the flickering menorah or Shabbat candles next to it. Water with two ice cubes per week.
Cyclamen persicum, or Rakefet in Hebrew, will soon be blooming in Israel. While Cyclamen is a protected species in Israel, it is by no means rare. Huge carpets of pink Cyclamen can be seen covering the ground where soil is more acidic from January to March. In 1950 a pine forest was planted near Kibbutz Galed and a few years later Cyclamen started to grow. The area is now known as Rakefet Hill. It is said that King Solomon saw it as a model for his crown and therefore it has the nickname “nezer Shlomo,” King Solomons crown.
Okay, yes this plant is often referred to as a Christmas cactus, but with a Latin name like Schlumbergera, can you really blame me for including it? It’s named Christmas cactus because it blooms during December, which means it also blooms around Hanukkah. Schlumbergera is a cactus that actually likes high humidity and partial lighting. It’s a tropical epiphyte, meaning it grows on other plants in nature just like the Phalaenopsis orchid and staghorn fern. Care for it would be similar.
The 9th candle on the menorah is known as the Shamash, meaning “attendant”. This candle is traditionally used to light the other eight. In honor of this candle I would like to plug some of our plant “attendants” such as soil amendments and pots. We carry Spanish and sphagnum moss, different types of soil, fertilizers and organic pesticides. The second floor at PlantShed is filled with pots of all different shapes and sizes. There’s modern, classic, quirky and keepsake planters not only in ceramic, but also in wood, glass, metal and plastic as well. Planters available in stock are always changing, so stop by often to see what’s in store! or just to say Shalom.
Runner Up Plants:
Amaryllis – seasonal and non-Christmasy
Paper Whites – underrated, smells Amazing
Wandering Jew – funny but too risqué for this list