Busch's Florist & Greenhouse

Busch's Florist & Greenhouse

Posted by Busch's Florist on December 4, 2019 | Last Updated: November 6, 2020 Flowers

What Are Boughs of Holly? Everything to Know about December’s Birth Flower

The holiday season has arrived, and winter’s just around the corner. So, florists here at Buschs‘ have been busy coming up with new, exciting ways to decorate using December’s birth flower, holly. We’ve put together this guide to help you use this interesting, beautiful, and festive plant in all your holiday traditions.

What Is Holly?

Holly is an evergreen plant, which means its leaves stay vibrant and green throughout the year — even in winter. The holly plant is shrub-like but can grow into a tree-sized plant, given enough time and care. Like other evergreens, holly leaves sprout from long, rigid limbs. When one of these limbs is cut, it’s called a bough of holly, hence the popular Christmas carol lyrics, “Deck the halls with boughs of holly!”

Is Holly Poisonous?

Holly leaves and stems are harmless, but the plant’s bright, red berries are highly toxic and can be very dangerous to people and pets if ingested. It’s important to keep small children, dogs, and cats away from outdoor holly plants and indoor decorations that use fresh holly.

Holly Wreath on Old Door

Holly Wreath on Old Door

Centerpiece with red and white roses, Christmas greens, holly berries and pine cones

Christmas Wishes Centerpiece

What Does the Holly Plant Symbolize?

The holly plant has a long, rich history that stretches way back before holly was featured on printed wrapping paper and hung in homes next to twinkling lights. While other plants wither and die in cold weather, holly stays green and vibrant with bright red berries throughout the winter. This has made it a popular winter plant for ages.

The Druids and Celts both considered holly to be a magical and sacred plant. They saw it as a symbol of fertility, eternal life, and protection. Cutting down a holly plant was considered bad luck, but hanging its boughs indoors was good luck. Ancient Romans used the plant as a symbol of Saturn, the god of agriculture and harvest, and with its boughs, they celebrated the festival of Saturnalia. Romans also hung holly on their doorways for protection and good fortune. As a result, early Christians did the same.

Eventually, holly gained its own symbolism within the Christian belief system. The plant’s spiky leaves came to represent Jesus’s crown of thorns and its red berries, the blood of Christ.

Our Favorite Ways to Decorate with Holly in December

Decorative Wreaths and Advent Wreaths – In keeping with one of the oldest holly traditions, why not hang some from your front door in a festive holiday wreath? For good luck and seasonal spirit, you can hang a wreath primarily comprised of holly or one featuring other evergreen boughs, flowers, pinecones, and poinsettias. Holly makes also makes a wonderful addition to an advent wreath, used to mark each Sunday leading up to Christmas Day.

Holly Berries on Snowy Branch

Holly Berries on Snowy Branch

Classic Holiday Wreath with holly berries and red bow

Classic Holiday Wreath

This sweet bouquet includes red carnations and white carnations beautifully arranged in our bright red glass cube.

Make Merry

Floral Arrangements – Our favorite way to use holly during December is, of course, in floral arrangements. The plant’s vibrant green leaves and bright red berries pair wonderfully with holiday colors and a variety of red and white flowers like roses, carnations, orchids, lilies, chrysanthemums, hydrangea, and ranunculus. We also like to add a few festive embellishments like frosted pinecones or sparkling ribbons for additional cheer.
Boutonnieres and Corsages – Boutonnieres and corsages worn during December can feature holly to better celebrate the season. If you have a wedding, formal party, or another special event in December, consider asking for a sprig of holly to be included in your wearable floral design.
Pretty Packages – You can give your gift-wrapped packages an elegant look by attaching a sprig of fresh holly to the box. Simply tie them on with pretty ribbons or bows. Be sure to keep packages featuring holly away from small children and pets.
Centerpieces – Holly makes a wonderful addition to a dining room table when included in the centerpiece. A design featuring holly in addition to delicate flowers and candles in green, red, white, gold, or silver will create a warm, welcoming ambiance.

Deck Your Halls with Boughs of Holly

If you’re excited to celebrate the spirit of the season or a December birthday, then be sure to fill your home with the beauty and symbolism of holly. Our expert florists can help you select the perfect floral arrangements and accents to celebrate the holiday season. For personalized assistance and recommendations, we welcome you to stop by our flower shop Jefferson City.