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
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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

More Trees Questions

Selecting landscape trees for Denton Co., TX
August 11, 2006 - I live in Denton County and I'm trying to select a few trees to plant in my yard. I'd like them to be native or at least "antique" (hardy varieties which have adapted to the conditions without bec...
view the full question and answer

Identification of Cockspur Hawthorn as Crataegus crus-galli
September 05, 2006 - What is cockspur hawthorne?
view the full question and answer

Problem with magnolias and yaupon in Prosper TX
May 13, 2012 - Problem with Little Gem magnolia - 3 little gems planted next to a fence, in Prosper, TX. Planted 3 years ago, 2009, one of the trees is now withering. The other 2 are doing fine, the one has leaves...
view the full question and answer

Growing non-native avocado outside from Austin
December 27, 2012 - My son has a very large avocado tree that he rooted from a pit that is currently growing in a large container. However, it has gotten too big to winter inside. Can it be planted in the ground in Aust...
view the full question and answer

Identity of evergreen tree at Barton Springs in Austin TX
October 11, 2015 - I am trying to identify an evergreen tree at Barton Springs in Austin. It is growing on the south lawn overlooking the pool. It has needles arranged in a fan like shape and makes a kind of crown-shape...
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