Living Christmas Trees

Live Christmas trees have a charm that is missing from the mass-produced artificial ones. They are also a great alternative to the ones that are chopped down from plantations and used for a few weeks over the Christmas period before being discarded.

The following are traditional and non-traditional trees that can be used to great effect:

Traditional:
  • Monteray or Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata)
    Young pot grown plants have a neat triangular shape and they are cheaper than other plants grown for this purpose. They can lose their shape if they are planted out and become large.
  • Dwarf White Spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’)
    This is a small pyramidal tree with tightly whorled needles on short branches. It looks very attractive as a Christmas tree and also if placed in the garden landscape. They only grow to 3m.
  • Blue Spruce (Picea pungens ‘Kosteriana’)
    Another pyramid, this time with bluish coloured needles on short branches. It is a small to medium sized tree (5-10m) that can be kept in a pot for several years before being planted out in a cool spot.
  • Blue Cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’) This tree has a triangular shape, with short metallic-blue needles on stiff branches. It will need a rich moist soil and plenty of space if planted out in the garden, since it can grow up to 20m.
Northern Hemisphere:
  • Nordmann Fir (Abies nordmanniana)
    This is a columnar tree with tiered branches. It has dense, glossy, rich bright green foliage and cylindrical greenish brown cones.
  • Noble Fir (Abies nobilis ‘Glauca’)
    This tree starts out in a conical form but later becomes more columnar. The variety ‘Glauca’ has bright blue-grey foliage.
  • Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
    This is a conical to columnar-conical tree that later becomes domed. Leaves are dark green in colour with a tinge of blue. It makes a very attractive yet tall tree (15-30m).
  • Norway Spruce (Picea abies)
    This is also known as a Christmas tree in many parts of the northern hemisphere. Once again it tends to be conical when young and more columnar as it matures. Its leaves are needle-like and deep green. They can look great as a permanent fixture in the garden, and then strewn with fairy lights at Christmas.
There are a number of other conifers that you can experiment with. The above varieties are chosen largely for their shape, ease of maintenance in pots and their ability to hold baubles and other decorations without the stems bending. You may find other varieties do not adapt as well.

Some other trees make good alternative Christmas trees:
  • Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)
    This is an Australian native conifer with a sparsely branched pyramid shape, making it a good indoor Christmas tree when small. It is fast growing needing plenty of space, and is good for coastal gardens.
  • Lillypillies (Acmena sp.)
    These are Australaian rainforest plants with dainty dark green leaves. There are a number of dwarf varieties that can be clipped into pyramid shapes. They prefer a mild climate.
  • English Box (Buxus sempervirens)
    These are small shrubs that can be clipped to be shaped like a Christmas tree. They are slow growing and can be planted out later for hedging borders.


Pinus species make an excellent living Xmas trees

Picea abies is also widely used as a Christmas tree 
 

 

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