En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Saturday - December 01, 2007

From: West Lake Hills, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Native substitute for traditional Christmas tree
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Could you give some recommendations for a substitute of the traditional Christmas tree used during the holiday season? The low light/humidity conditions in the home is a challenge under any circumstance but we would like to have something native to the Austin area that would help celebrate the season, yet be more environmentally responsibile than cutting a living tree and sending it to the mulch pile later. Maybe we can start new traditions!

ANSWER:

Since late fall/winter is the best time to plant new trees, why not go to your favorite nursery specializing in native plants—you can find a list in our National Suppliers Directory—and pick out one of our native evergreen shrubs/small trees and have yourself a living Christmas tree. You can maintain it inside covered with your favorite decorations and lights and then plant it outdoors as soon as Christmas is over. Here are several suggestions:

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel). Of course, it won't have the beautiful flowers until spring.

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon). You might be able to find one to purchase that is covered in red berries.

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac). Again, you might be able to find one covered with red berries, but it may be a little late for them.

Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry). The berries are blue and may be gone by now.

Leucophyllum frutescens (cenizo). You might find one in bloom.

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar). If you find one with blue berries on it (a female tree), you will know that you aren't going to be spreading pollen for allergies.


Sophora secundiflora

Ilex vomitoria

Rhus virens

Prunus caroliniana

Leucophyllum frutescens

Juniperus virginiana

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Solution for wet area near fence
April 07, 2010 - I just moved into a house that is 10 years old on the north side of Houston, Texas. When it rains the water pools about 1 to 3 inches deep around the beds with trees (pine, sweet gum and chinaberry) ...
view the full question and answer

Mexican oak and red oak not looking healthy
August 02, 2014 - I purchased a Mexican oak tree and I believe a red oak tree from your center about 1 year ago. Recently I've noticed that they don't look as healthy as they have been, and I just looked at the leave...
view the full question and answer

Problems with dogwood borers in TN
April 20, 2011 - What is the best way to treat native dogwoods infested with Dogwood borer insects? I have cut and removed the dead ones and the ones with large patches of bark missing but would like to save the remai...
view the full question and answer

Oak Selection in Austin
September 11, 2010 - The City of Austin is offering me two free trees to plant in my front yard. I live on the limestone shelf that is Northwest Austin, with only a few inches of topsoil that was brought in by the home b...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shelter for butterflies
July 04, 2010 - I understand that butterflies need certain plants for food, but are there specific plants that butterflies prefer to use as shelter in central Texas?
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center