Holiday Color Series: Essential Red

Welcome to Part Two of our Holiday Color Series. Now that we are fully in December, it is time to talk about the official color of Christmas: Red.  Not only is it adorning the windows of shops and the sweaters of my coworkers, I can also see it appearing more and more in our greenhouses, fields, and shipping coolers. 

Origin of Christmas Red

The use of red at Christmas has its history rooted in both pagan and Christian beliefs, tracing back to the Middle Ages, when using red and green symbolized the end of cycle and the beginning of a new one—typically around the winter solstice.  Christians associated red with this tradition as well, but they used it to indicate the sacred color of Christ's blood.  They celebrated the change of season with medieval miracle plays about the story of creation and Adam and Eve, featuring a "paradise tree" hung with red apples.  The holly berry, too, became associated with Christ's blood, along with the red robes of church bishops.  All these uses preceded the red of Santa's suit (which was actually made popular by artist Fred Mizen and Coca-Cola in the 1930s).

Regardless of the origin of using red with Christmas, it is here to stay.  All the better, I say, as there is a wealth of holiday flora that come in that nostalgic and symbolic, Christmas Red.

Red Matsumoto Asters

Matsumoto asters cheer up grey, winter skies with their warm and vibrant colors. They are especially fitting for the holiday season, as they come in that bright, enviable Christmas red.  Their soft petals gather tightly around a golden center, illustrating the Latin root of their name, which means “star."  Their lengthy stems and long vase life make Matsumoto Asters an essential addition to any Christmas decor.

Red Ilex

Ilex Verticallata (also known as winterberry) is the quintessential winter botanical.  We are unabashed ilex devotees here at Sun Valley, and as explained in Flower Talk before, it's because our ilex program has been hand-picked, bred, and cultivated by Lane DeVries for decades, and his long-term dedication to grow the best ilex is evident in what we offer today.   Have a look at these lovely greenery enhanced bunches below.
(Top L-R) Ilex Enhanced Bunches with: Cedar, Tulips and Cedar, Ilex M, Princess Pine
Also, the singular beauty of ilex displayed by itself is an arrangement that should not be overlooked.  The effect is both stunning and graceful.  Below are some gorgeous holiday ilex displays found on Pinterest, and there are hundreds of more ideas!

Red Tulips

We are also unabashed tulip lovers at Sun Valley! Tulips were one of our original bulb crops, and for the last thirty years, we have been working to provide high-quality, soil-grown tulips all year long.  During winter, we use bulbs from our Southern Hemisphere suppliers in order to have a fresh and timely supply of tulips during the "off-season." Red tulips pair amazing with all kinds of holiday greenery--cedar, pine, or fir, it doesn't matter--they all provide a great backdrop (and holiday scent) to bright red tulips

(From L-R): Rococco Red Tulips with Eucalytpus and Fir, Red tulip enhanced bunches with holiday greens

Red Lilies


Looking for a deeper red this holiday season? Consider Sumatra lilies, which have Bordeaux petals intensified by dark burgundy brushstrokes, ruby freckling, and a thin white ruffle at the edges of its petals.  Because they are part of the Oriental Lily family, Sumatra blooms are quite large and very fragrant.  If you're looking for an elegant and fragrant red flower for this holidays, try the dark hues of the Sumatra Lily.

LA Hybrids

LA Hybrids are perfect for those who want a long-lasting, red holiday lily with no fragrance. LA Hybrids fulfill that scentless need, making them a great option for those who have floral allergies or for those who want the notes of gingerbread and apple cider to reign supreme.  We've branded our LA Hybrids as Love and Royal Lilies, and they come in a range of red hues to fit any kind of holiday theme.   Their petals are velvety and strong, and their long vase life will help them last through the holiday season.

Some of our red-hued LA Hybrids

In case you need a re-cap of our list of Essential Red Flowers, I've rewritten a one a holiday classic to help you remember, called The Five Days of Flowers.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - an ilex verticillata..
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me -two LA Hybrids, and an ilex verticillata.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me - three red tulips, two LA Hybrids, and an ilex verticillata.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me - Four Sumatra Lilies, three red tulips, two LA Hybrids and an ilex verticillata.
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me - Five Red Asters, Four Sumatra Lilies, three red tulips, two LA Hybrids, and an ilex verticillata.

Happy Holidays.