A Journey Through the Richness of November’s Birth Flower

As winter’s icy touch descends, December unfolds with a captivating dance of contrasting charms. Two enchanting blooms grace this month’s birth flowers: the holly and the paperwhite. One boasts vibrant berries and festive foliage, while the other unveils delicate fragrances and pure white perfection. Let’s delve into their world, revealing their secrets and practical tips, along with helpful FAQs to guide your floral exploration.

Flower and Color

Holly: This versatile beauty offers a stunning contrast of textures and hues. Evergreen leaves, glossy and deep green, are adorned with vibrant red berries (sometimes orange or yellow) that twinkle like festive jewels amidst the wintery landscape. Imagine a miniature Christmas tree adorned with sparkling ruby ornaments!

Paperwhites: These ethereal dancers emerge from bulbous slumber, showcasing clusters of star-shaped blooms in purest white. With a hint of green on their delicate petals and a sweet, musky fragrance filling the air, they bring a touch of spring’s promise to the heart of winter. Think fairy lights woven into a snowy meadow!

Flower Meanings

  • Holly: Layers of symbolism swirl within the holly’s festive facade. It represents protection, good luck, and enduring hope, often associated with festive cheer and new beginnings. The vibrant berries symbolize joy and prosperity, while the prickly leaves embody resilience and overcoming challenges.
  • Paperwhites: These delicate blooms whisper tales of purity, renewal, and optimism. They represent new beginnings, fresh starts, and a gentle spirit that thrives even amidst winter’s chill. Their sweet fragrance adds a touch of comfort and warmth, reminding us of spring’s inevitable return.


  • Holly: This versatile shrub or small tree boasts glossy, spiky leaves and clusters of bright berries. Some varieties sport smooth-edged leaves, while others offer a touch of whimsy with variegated foliage. The berries, a favorite winter treat for birds, add a splash of festive color to the winter landscape.
  • Paperwhites: These graceful beauties rise from onion-like bulbs, showcasing clusters of fragrant star-shaped blooms. Their ivory petals unfurl, revealing hints of green at their base, and their intoxicating fragrance fills the air with a promise of warmer days to come.

Growth Habit

  • Holly: This adaptable shrub thrives in various soil types and prefers full sun to partial shade. It tolerates a wide range of climates and requires minimal care, making it perfect for low-maintenance gardens.
  • Paperwhites: These fragrant blooms readily grow indoors in water or well-drained soil. They prefer cool temperatures and bright light, and even novice gardeners can enjoy their beauty with minimal effort.

Blooming Season

  • Holly: Though its festive berries are most prominent in December, holly typically blooms in late spring or early summer. However, the berries linger well into winter, adding a touch of cheer to the coldest months.
  • Paperwhites: These winter stars grace us with their fragrant blooms from late December to early spring. With a little coaxing, their bulbs can be forced to bloom indoors, bringing a breath of springtime to the heart of winter.


  • Holly: Most holly varieties are hardy in USDA zones 3-8, readily surviving winter’s chill. Their evergreen foliage adds a touch of life to the winter landscape, providing shelter for birds and small animals.
  • Paperwhites: Though technically bulbs, paperwhites are not winter-hardy outdoors. However, their bulbs can be replanted in gardens after blooming indoors, potentially returning year after year in warmer climates.

Sunlight and Soil

  • Holly: Adaptable holly thrives in various soil types but prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. Watering during dry spells encourages healthy growth and berry production.
  • Paperwhites: For indoor forcing, paperwhites require minimal soil or even just water! Place bulbs in pebbles or a shallow container with water, ensuring the base but not the bulb itself is submerged. Bright, indirect sunlight promotes even growth and fragrant blooms.

Garden Uses

  • Holly: Create festive holiday borders, hedges, or winter interest points with Holly. Its versatile foliage and vibrant berries add textural contrast and seasonal cheer to any garden design.
  • Paperwhites: Enjoy their fragrant beauty indoors by forcing them to bloom in bowls or decorative vases. Group them with other winter greenery or colorful amaryllis for a festive holiday centerpiece.

Complete History

  • Holly: With a history steeped in mythology and tradition, Holly has captivated humankind for centuries. Ancient Celts associated it with the winter solstice and believed it possessed protective power. In Christian tradition, it became a symbol of Christmas, representing Christ’s crown of thorns and eternal life. Throughout history, this versatile plant has adorned homes, graced celebrations, and whispered tales of hope and resilience amidst the wintry darkness.
  • Paperwhites: These ethereal blooms boast a history intertwined with beauty and symbolism. In Greek mythology, they were associated with Persephone, the goddess of spring. In Roman times, they were used to signify new beginnings and victory. Their sweet fragrance and pure white blooms have inspired poets and artists for centuries, offering a delicate reminder of hope and renewal amidst winter’s icy grip.

Meaning and Significance

  • Holly: As December’s birth flowers, Holly represents individuals born under this sign as resilient, protective, and brimming with festive cheer. They possess a quiet strength, an unwavering optimism, and a spirit that finds joy even in the coldest months. These vibrant berries and prickly leaves remind us to embrace new beginnings, find strength in challenges, and share the festive spirit with those around us.
  • Paperwhites: If born in December, the paperwhite embodies your gentle spirit, unwavering hope, and a deep connection to the quiet beauty of winter. You possess a pure heart, a thirst for knowledge, and a quiet grace that radiates from within. These delicate blooms remind us to cherish innocence, embrace new beginnings, and find strength in winter’s stillness, knowing that spring’s warmth is always on the horizon.

Fun Facts

  • The name “holly” comes from the Old English word “holin,” meaning “prickly.”
  • Paperwhites are technically narcissus (daffodil) relatives but don’t produce a true bulb.
  • Holly berries are poisonous to humans but a favorite winter treat for birds.
  • Paperwhites’ sweet fragrance can be intensified by placing them in a warm, sunny spot during the day and a cooler location at night.
  • Holly leaves were traditionally used to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck to the home.
  • Paperwhites were often included in Victorian-era bouquets to symbolize purity and good fortune.

Caring for Your December Birth Flower

Whether you’ve received a festive bouquet of holly or a fragrant arrangement of paperwhites, or nurture them in your garden, knowing how to care for them will prolong their beauty. Here are some tips:

Cut holly:

  • Trim stems at an angle and remove any leaves below the waterline. Place them in a clean vase with fresh water and flower preservatives. Change the water every few days to prevent wilting.
  • To enhance the berries’ vibrancy, spray them lightly with water to keep them plump.

Cut paperwhites:

  • Trim stems at an angle and remove any leaves below the waterline. Place them in a clean vase with fresh water and flower preservatives. Avoid overcrowding in the vase, as this can hinder bloom longevity.
  • Keep them away from drafts and direct sunlight, as this can make them wilt more quickly.

Garden holly

  • Plant in well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. Water regularly during dry spells, especially during berry formation. Pruning after berry production removes unwanted growth and encourages a bushier shape.
  • Holly berries ripen in late fall and remain on the branches through winter, providing food for birds and a festive touch to the landscape.

Paperwhites indoors

  • Place bulbs in a container with pebbles or water, ensuring the base but not the bulb itself is submerged.
  • Keep them in a cool, bright location with indirect sunlight.
  • Once blooms appear, enjoy their fragrance and beauty for several weeks. After flowering, discard the bulbs or plant them in well-drained soil outdoors in milder climates.

FAQS About December,s Birth Flower

If you resonate with resilience, festive cheer, and a spirit that finds joy in unexpected places, Holly might be your match. If your spirit embodies gentle hope, a love for knowledge, and a quiet grace that thrives even in the cold, the paperwhite might be your floral kindred.

Holly thrives in most climates, offering winter interest with its evergreen foliage and vibrant berries. Paperwhites require forcing indoors but can potentially return year after year in warmer climates if planted outdoors after blooming.

Holly complements poinsettias, red roses, and fragrant pine boughs for a festive holiday display. Paperwhites blend harmoniously with amaryllis, winter berries, and evergreen branches for a delicate and fragrant winter arrangement.

Dried holly leaves can be incorporated into winter wreaths or used to create natural ornaments. Paperwhite bulbs can be forced to bloom in miniature containers for unique and fragrant gifts.

Let December’s Blossoms Guide You

May December’s enchanting duo, the holly and the paperwhite, guide you through the winter months with warmth, hope, and festive cheer. Let their contrasting charms inspire you to find strength in resilience, cherish quiet beauty, and embrace the promise of new beginnings that lie hidden within the heart of winter. Remember, December’s beauty lies not just in the sparkling frost and cozy fires, but in the way it awakens the enduring spirit of resilience and hope within each of us. So, step outside, breathe in the crisp air, and let the vibrant berries of holly and the delicate fragrance of paperwhites guide you towards a season filled with warmth, joy, and unwavering optimism. May the spirit of December bloom within you, reminding you that even amidst the chillest darkness, spring’s gentle song is always waiting to be heard.