Besides pine trees, the holy, and the ivy, there are other plants one associates with Christmas. Here I’ve curated some vintage Christmas flower illustrations including poinsettia drawings
Poinsettias are probably the most popular of all the Christmas flowers. Over 35 million of them are sold in the US every year. That is a quarter of all potted plant sales.
My mother loved to decorate with poinsettias and would have several plants as part of our Christmas decorations. The main centerpiece on the Christmas table always included poinsettias.
She liked to decorate with poinsettias, not just because of their beautiful festive red color but probably because we lived in the tropics at the time. Poinsettias are plants you associate with warmer climates so they seemed more appropriate with our Christmas decorations, than plants that you associate with colder climates such as holly and mistletoe.
Personally, my favorite Christmas flowers aren’t poinsettias but Amaryllis. I just love their elegant lily-like blooms. Other vintage Christmas flower illustrations included in this collection include amaryllis, Christmas cacti, and Christmas roses.
To download any of the following Christmas flower drawings, just click on the title above that illustration. A higher resolution image will open as a new window in your browser.
The Vintage Poinsettia Drawings
Poinsettias originally came from Central America, mainly Mexico. They were named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico, who first brought the plant to the US in the 1820s. Before that, the plants were more commonly known as “Mexican flame flower” or “painted leaf“.
Today, the poinsettia is known in Mexico as Flor de Nochebuena, meaning Christmas Eve Flower.
The red “petals” on the plant aren’t actually flowers but colored leaves called a bract. The flowers are the less impressive little yellow buds in the center of each collection of leaves.
There is a Mexican folktale about how the plant became associate with Christmas. Legend says a girl in 16th Century Mexico was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday and was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds and became poinsettias.
Since then they have become a popular Christmas display in Mexican churches, The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice of Jesus’s crucifixion.
1. Curtis’s Botanical Magazine Poinsettia Drawings
This vibrant poinsettia illustration is from the famous Curtis’s Botanical Magazine v.63 published in 1836.
2. A Double Flowered Poinsettia Painting
This lovely chromolithograph was printed in 1876 and is from the Welcome Collection.
3. Single Poinsettia
Color drawing of poinsettia from Familiar Indian Flowers (1878) by Lena Lowis.
4. Childs’ Fall Catalog
A Christmas Poinsettia drawings of Santa plant on the cover of Childs’ Fall Catalog 1923.
5. Drawing Studies of a Poinsettia
A watercolor painting of Poinsettias by Sophia L. Crownfield 1937.
Amaryllis Christmas Flowers
I love the huge bright tall flowers of the Amaryllis plant. They are my favorite Christmas flowers. I’m not the only one who thinks that Amaryllis flowers are perfect for Christmas with their rich colors and eye-catching style. Amaryllis has replaced poinsettias as Britain’s favorite Christmas flower.
Amaryllis is a bulbous flowering plant originally from South Africa. They are perfect for Christmas as they bloom for several weeks in the winter usually just in time for the holidays. Also, they are easy to look after. If you provide them with a little water and place them in a warm, brightly lit spot, they’ll become beautiful festive showstoppers in just a few weeks.
According to the Greek legend, the plant was named after the nymph called Amaryllis who fell in love with a shepherd called Alteo. Due to unrequited love, Amaryllis pierced her heart with a golden arrow and start spreading drops of blood along the way toward Alteo’s cottage for 30 nights in a row. On the thirtieth day, beautiful flowers appeared from the soil covered with her blood and melted the “ice” around Alteo’s heart, who finally fell in love with Amaryllis.
In the Victorian Language of Flowers, amaryllis means “pride, determination and radiant beauty”.
6. White Amaryllis
White Amaryllis look just as festive as red amaryllis at Christmas.
An 18th Century watercolor of a white amaryllis by José Joaquim Freire
7. 1730 Amaryllis Water Color
Watercolor of an amaryllis from the Karlsruhe flower book, around 1730.
8. Amaryllis Formosissima
This Amaryllis painting is from the Rijksmuseum collection
9. Amaryllis Belladonna
Amaryllis Belladonna from the book “Flore des serres et des jardins de l’Europe” published in 1861.
10. Amaryllis Aulica
The Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) or black hellebore, is not actually a rose but an evergreen perennial flowering plant in the buttercup family. It is poisonous, but an important plant in medical botany.
The Christmas rose gets its name for several reasons, the flowers resemble wild roses and it’s a plant that flowers in the winter. There is also an old legend that the Christmas rose sprouted in the snow from the tears of a young girl who had no gift for the baby Jesus.
11. Christmas Rose
Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) illustration from Medical Botany (1836) by John Stephenson and James Morss Churchill.
12. 1868 Christmas Rose
Christmas rose painting from the Dutch botany book “Flora: images and descriptions of trees, shrubs, annual plants, etc. occurring in Dutch gardens” by H. Witte and A.J. Wendel (1868).
13. Christmas Rose – Flora Homoeopathica
This vintage Christmas flower image is from “The flora homoeopathica :or, illustrations and descriptions of the medicinal plants used as homoeopathic remedies” by Edward Hamilton (1852).
The final flower in this collection of Christmas flowers is that of the Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera).
Christmas cactus originate from Brazil and can bloom flowers in a wide variety of colors, including red, purple, orange, pink, and cream.
The cactus is now a common houseplant that blooms around Christmas. They live for 20-30years and unlike other cacti, thrive in cooler conditions.
There are more paintings of other variety of cacti on Pictureboxblue too.
14. Christmas Cactus
This 1897 print of a Christmas cactus is from the book “Favourite flowers of garden and greenhouse” by Edward Step
This cactus is featured in the Christmas Botanical print collection. And there is a tutorial here for a paper crafted cactus.
14. Paxton’s Christmas Cactus
Christmas cactus painting from “Paxton’s Magazine of Botany and Register of Flowering Plants” (1841).
15. Curtis Botanical Christmas Cactus
This cacti painting is from Curtis’s botanical magazine v.66 (1839).
There are lots of decorative examples of Poinsettia type in the American Type Founders Specimen book.
Don’t forget to check out the vintage holly illustrations, another Christmas plant.
Besides these fabulous Christmas flower pictures, there are many more botanical flower collections on the site. Including flowers such as roses, and gorgeous peonies that look fabulous all year round.
Other seasonal vintage picture collections include:
The Poinsettia drawings would be great images to use for the Christmas eyeglass ornaments or the upcycled tuna can ornaments.
Thursday 28th of January 2021
Hey there, beautiful prints! Are these free to use for song / album covers? If not - who are the copyright holders so I can contact them?
Thursday 28th of January 2021
Thank you, all the images are in the Public Domain due to their age so they are copyright-free.
Friday 4th of December 2020
Thank you for sharing these lovely vintage prints. I will enjoy using them for projects. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!♥
Monday 7th of December 2020
Thank you, so much I glad you enjoyed them.
Thursday 3rd of December 2020
These are really beautiful and useful for so many projects. I've featured this at the TFT party. :)
Monday 7th of December 2020
Thank you so much, I look forward to seeing it.
Sunday 22nd of November 2020
These are so lovely. Such great Christmas memories too. My nan and grandad had a box with an amaryllis in every year for Christmas (like everyone did!) and come spring they would send us photos of them holding their beautiful plant in full bloom! My mother in law loves a poinsettia and always has a few. She is from Guyana where they grow huge and everywhere so they really remind her of home. I might make her a card this year using one of these beautiful illustrations. Plus, great news, I have finally got my Christmas cactus to flower after 5 year of shrivelled buds so I'm feeling like a gardening goddess right now! Thank you.
Friday 27th of November 2020
Thank you, Julie. It must be something about this year, you are not the first one to tell me that their Christmas cactus flowers have bloomed after many disappointing years. Maybe the cactus just needed a bit of company with everyone locked in for Covid this year!
Wednesday 18th of November 2020
I love all of your vintage prints.
Thursday 19th of November 2020
Thank you, that is lovely to hear.