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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - December 16, 2012

From: Smithville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Native Christmas tree from Smithville TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I've always wanted to use a native tree as a Christmas tree. Do you have any suggestions?


That largely depends on whether you want it inside or outside, living or cut. The roots of an established size evergreen would probably be too big to make it practical to have a growing tree in a pot indoors. If you had access to some native trees still in the ground, there are several that you could cut down and bring into your house. The tree in a pot, if it survived the dry warm air in the house, would have to be removed and replanted outside as quickly as possible. A cut tree, while putting it in water would help and it would certainly be fresher than anything you could buy in a commercial tree lot, is still a dead tree. It could be cut up for compost, or put out to shelter small wildlife until it started to decompose. Unfortunately, snakes count as small wildlife that like to hide under cut greenery.

There are two evergreen trees native to Central Texas and Bastrop County - Juniperus ashei (Ashe juniper) and Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar) - that could count as credible Christmas trees. If you wanted to pot a small one, it would probably make it into your house and back into the ground alive; just be sure not to bring in a male as those are what put out the clouds of intensely allergenic yellow pollen in the Winter. There are shrubs, like Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon), that are small-leaved, evergreen and the females have red berries on them. It would take several years of growing in a pot, trimming and making sure they get pollinated (for the berries) to get something resembling a traditional Christmas tree.

Beyond that, you would need to just use your imagination. You can use just about any potted or cut plant indoors, or growing plant outdoors  and decorate it to your own fancy.


From the Image Gallery

Ashe juniper
Juniperus ashei

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Ilex vomitoria

More Trees Questions

Texas persimmon with scorched leaves from Austin
July 11, 2013 - I planted a Texas Persimmon seedling (five gallon) in my yard in early April. It is in a sunny, well-drained spot, and I have watered it regularly since planting. All was fine until the last weekend i...
view the full question and answer

Planting fruit and nut trees in Mason County, TX
March 02, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have 36 acres 15 miles west of the city of Mason TX. I wish to plant one acre plots of sustainable organic crops that are long term and hardy. (cost and effort not an iss...
view the full question and answer

Should I Prune Oak Trees in February in Wisconsin?
February 17, 2011 - I need to cut some oak branches but am worried about oak wilt. You told an earlier questioner not to cut in February. I live in Wisconsin and it has been very cold lately. Am I okay to cut the bran...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Canary Date Palms from Miami FL
December 06, 2011 - Hi: The fronts of my canary date palm, which I planted about 6 years ago, has been getting brown from the bottom of the tree and working itself towards the top for the past several months now. The b...
view the full question and answer

Bacterial wetwood disease in ash tree
November 11, 2004 - I have an Ash tree in my front yard. It's about 25 - 30 years old. About 2 months ago, it began to ooze sap from a point where a limb had been pruned, I'd say, about 15 - 20 years ago. So this cut ...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center