En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Mountain Laurels are dying in Georgetown, TX.
April 02, 2012 - Ten year old Mountain Laurels both last year and this spring have had entire branches turn brown just after blooming this Feb. Round Rock Arborist suggested I contact you. Last year one of my laurels...
view the full question and answer

Identification of mystery tree in Huntington Beach, CA
March 25, 2015 - Have a "tree" that has grown from about 18" tall to about 10' tall in a little over a years time. It has a central trunk that is about 3/4" in diameter at it's largest. It has short thin branch...
view the full question and answer

Daily water absorption of live oak from soil
December 04, 2003 - How much water does the live oak absorb from the soil per day?
view the full question and answer

Ground cover under trees from Austin
November 03, 2012 - I need ground cover plants that can tolerate leaf litter and grow under oak tree shade.
view the full question and answer

Cupressus arizonica with central leader cut in Sedona, AZ
February 11, 2009 - Will a healthy Cupressus arizonica continue to grow in its native habitat, in Arizona, once the central leader has been cut?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center