Melinda's Gardening How-To: Christmas Tree Alternatives

Add a small scale living evergreen to your holiday celebrations. They make great alternatives to larger Christmas trees, especially when space is limited. Or use them to decorate your home, as a centerpiece for the holiday table or gift for a friend. And consider buying a few to enjoy and share with others. I usually do.

Lemon Cypress (Goldcrest Cypress)
Add a fresh scent of lemon and a touch of chartreuse to your holidays with this dwarf evergreen. Like the Rosemary you can select a globe or tree form potted as single and doubles. Use them on a tabletop or sideboard or wherever space allows. You’ll be glad you tried something new and exciting this year.

• Light – Grow in a sunny window and turn the plant occasionally for even lighting and growth.

• Temperature: Lemon cypress performs best in cooler temperatures. Avoid drafts of hot and cold air.

• Water: Water thoroughly when the top few inches of soil are slightly dry. Avoid overwatering and do not allow the plants to sit in excess water that collects in the saucer.

• Fertilize: Wait until spring to fertilize when plants begin actively growing and need a nutrient boost.


Norfolk Island Pine
Norfolk Island pine has long been used as a houseplant and living Christmas tree. Hang a bit of garland, small ornaments, colorful bows or a string of lights from its sturdy branches for a more festive look. And just like your Rosemary tree you can set your plant in a festive basket, container or tin. Or wrap the pot in burlap and hold it in place with a colorful bow for a more organic look.

• Light: Grow in well-lit location. Routinely turn the plant so all sides of the plant receive sunlight and put on uniform growth.

• Temperature: Cooler temperatures mean higher humidity that the Norfolk Island Pines prefer. Avoid drafts of hot and cold air.
• Water: Water thoroughly whenever the soil is just slightly moist.

• Fertilize: Wait until spring to fertilize when the plants are actively growing and in need of a nutrient boost. Use a dilute solution of houseplant fertilizer if needed.

• Humidity: Low humidity and dry soil are usually the cause of dry and brown needles and branches. Use a gravel tray to reduce your workload and increase your growing success. Place pebbles in the plant saucer. Set the container on the pebbles so it rests above the excess water that collects in the saucer. As the excess water evaporates it increases humidity around the plant as it evaporates


Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience.  She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Gardening How-To with you!