En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Eastern red cedar for indoor Christmas tree

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Tuesday - November 06, 2007

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Eastern red cedar for indoor Christmas tree
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I would love to have a live b&b or container tree for a Christmas tree, then plant it in the ground after Christmas. Would a Eastern Cedar survive if I brought it inside for a couple of weeks before planting?

ANSWER:

Since the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower is all about plants native to North America, that is always the first thing we check when we get a question about a specific plant. Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) certainly passes that test; it occurs naturally in Texas and certainly should do well in Fort Worth. To talk first about having it outside, it is fairly fast-growing and makes a wonderful screen when several are planted. On the downside, Juniperus virginiana has become invasive in some areas, reducing the size of grazing lands and pulling water from the soil, thus threatening live oaks and other beneficial native trees.

When we start talking about having a living tree indoors, there are problems there, too. The smaller Eastern red cedars are pyrimidal in shape, which would be good for your purpose. But, if you wanted a larger tree, its shape might not be so attractive. And have you considered how BIG the root system might be for such a tree? If you stay fairly small, both those problems should be fairly easy to deal with. Further, in December, even in temperate areas, there is going to be some central heating going in your house. If that plant has been outside, at a tree nursery or in the ground, it has been hardening off and preparing for cold weather. The combination of root loss on digging and the indoor environment of high temperature and low humidity is very detrimental to the tree's health and the survival rate of these trees is low. Being suddenly subjected to blasts of warm air, possibly from vents that are nearby, is going to be a big shock to the tree, causing drying and possible fire risk.

Having dealt with health risks to the tree, how about health risks to the family? The fleshy cones of the Eastern red cedar, which resemble berries, and the leaves are both toxic. These are considerations if you have children or pets in the house. Allergies are probably the main reason that many people have gone to artificial trees, shunning even cut trees beause of molds on the trunks. One of the biggest allergy problems in Central Texas is Cedar Fever. Not only are there allergic reactions to the male, pollen-bearing trees, but many people can get hives just from touching the foliage, male or female!

There are the pros and cons about Eastern red cedar, as we see them. You'll have to make your own decision about whether an indoor living tree is worth the trouble.

 


Juniperus virginiana

 

 

More Trees Questions

Planning garden tasks in advance from Austin
January 03, 2012 - My yard was a disaster last year-grass and trees browning, early leaf fall on flowering plants, and water bills sky high, even with the limited watering days. What can I do this year to prevent this s...
view the full question and answer

Growths on Shumard Red Oak leaves from Katy TX
April 01, 2013 - Our beautiful Shumard Red Oak has developed lots of light green grape like growths on the leaves. Please inform us what this could be and how we should treat it?
view the full question and answer

Texas ash tree splitting in Denton TX
April 03, 2010 - I have a Texas ash tree that's splitting in its center and need some info re cable tie or other techniques to fuse the crotch together. I have temporarily placed two bands of plastic cable ties just...
view the full question and answer

Trees for creek side in Illinois
July 04, 2008 - I have a creek that runs along my back yard, and was wondering if you could give me some suggestions on water loving trees to grow next to it. The creek gets sun all day and is located in zone 5. (so...
view the full question and answer

Juniperus virginiana and some pines for Florida
July 11, 2007 - I live in Pensacola, FL (Northwest Florida, practically lower-coastal Alabama) and I am looking for a medium size tree that will cast shade on my home. The house faces due west and it gets extremely h...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center