Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

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

Scorched leaves on Red Maple from Lufkin TX
April 30, 2012 - I have a Red Maple that we planted in Lufkin, TX about a month ago and fertilized about 2 weeks ago. We water the tree often. The leaves have become scorched looking on the outside of about 1/3 of t...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a bald cypress from Houston
December 10, 2012 - We would like to transplant a bald cypress from front yard to back. It is about 10 ft tall, 3" trunk diameter, 2-1/2 years old and in good health. Any idea how large the root ball might need to be du...
view the full question and answer

Identificaation of different cultivars ofPrunus caroliniana
June 14, 2007 - How can you tell if you have a Carolina Cherry laurel or Carolina cherry laurel "compacta," or a Cherry Laurel-English? I have a line of four cherry laurels and one in the middle recently died an...
view the full question and answer

Problems with transplanted Texas Madrones from Junction TX
May 13, 2014 - We planted 3 little Texas madrones last year 9 - 12 inches high. 2 of them seem to have some kind of black blight along the edges of the leaves that I don't think was the result of our late freezes. ...
view the full question and answer

What to do with a sickly American elm in Austin, Texas
September 27, 2010 - I have an American elm that is about 6 feet tall in my yard. It is has not grown quickly this year--as compared to another American Elm that I have in another spot that is about 3 feet tall and has m...
view the full question and answer

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