Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Laurel oak tree not leafing out in Pasadena TX
April 13, 2010 - Hurricane Ike blew down our red bud in the backyard. Had a large 25' laurel oak planted early March 2010. When it was put in the ground, the leaves were on it, but they were all brown and dried. T...
view the full question and answer

Decline of indoor lemon cypress
June 25, 2008 - I received a lemon cypress as a gift. I have kept it indoors in bright light and tried to keep it moist. When I received the plant the foliage was soft and now it has become brittle and dry even tho...
view the full question and answer

Plants poisonous to dogs from Marion TX
April 24, 2012 - Is the desert willow poisonous to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Windbreaks for Monterey County, CA
May 31, 2013 - I am trying to find good wind breakers for Monterey County area, very windy in the valley.
view the full question and answer

Striped caterpillars on Cornus sericea (redtwig dogwood)
September 07, 2011 - My red-twig dogwood has white/black striped caterpillars that congregate on the underside of the leaves and they are stripping the leaves. What can I do? They almost look like Monarch butterfly larvae...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.