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Its Almost Christmas Time!

 

There are so many conifers that are perfect to be used as living Christmas Trees – they even smell like Christmas!

Araucaria heterophylla – The Norfolk Island Pine

Norfolk Island Pines are native to Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island is between New Caledonia and Australia in the South Pacific.

Norfolk Island Pines that may be suitable for use as masts on sailing ships. Later it was found that Norfolk Island Pine was not resilient and the ship mast industry was abandoned.

They can reach a height of 50–65 m. with straight vertical trunks and symmetrical branches, even in the face of incessant onshore winds that can contort most other species they will grow straight, but they can be maintained at a reasonable size when grown in a container for use as a Christmas Tree.

As a garden specimen or coastal planting they also tolerate full sun and lots of exposure. Not that I would recommend it for the average garden but as a garden specimen or coastal planting they also tolerate harsh conditions, full sun and lots of exposure.

So versatile, Norfolk Island Pines are considered hardy indoor plants, they also tolerate indoor conditions better than most other trees.

With the correct care they can remain in a pot for several Christmas’s.

Green in colour and uniform horizontal branches, as well as the soft foliage will make you want to decorate it and use it as a living Christmas tree!

The perfect shape with even symmetrical branches to hang decorations on.To get the most suitable specimen for a potted Christmas tree visit your garden centre early, to pick over the batch, to get the most evenly spaced branches.

Looking after your living Christmas tree

With the correct care a potted Christmas tree can be kept growing in a pot for a number of years.

Turn your Norfolk Island Pine several times a year to keep it symmetrical.

After Christmas is over, move the tree outside but not into full sun immediately, perhaps give it protection under a veranda for example. Perhaps wait until its closer to autumn before you move it out to full sun. This will help it acclimatize to being outside once again.

Water regularly, use slow release fertilizer once a year, repot as needed, but just into the next size (don’t want it to be too heavy to get in and out of the house)

When placing your living Christmas tree indoors, avoid placing them near windows where they will be exposed to hot afternoon sun.

From experience and many dead trees later I believe you should only keep your living tree inside for no more that 7 – 12 days.

There are many other specimens also perfect to be used as Christmas Trees, our  personal favourites:

Picea Albertiana Conica  (Dwarf Alberta Spruce)

This is an evergreen coniferous shrub that grows naturally into a perfect dark green cone. A true dwarf conifer, and given perfect growing conditions will reach 1.8 metres high and about 1 metre wide after about 20 years

These used to be a highly sought after collector’s item and always in short supply, slow growing and quite pricey. This year they seem to be one of the most popular tree in most garden centres as the tree offered as a Christmas tree. Extremely ornamental and will stay in a pot for perhaps 10 years before you would need to plant it in the ground.

If you are considering a tree that you could use as a Christmas tree for many years, I consider Picea Albertiana Concia perfect.

Other varieties perfect as living Christmas Trees may include:

Cedrus deodora “Indian Cedar”

Cedrus atlantica “Altlas Cedar”

Picea abies “The Norway Spruce”

Picea pungens “Colorado Spruce”

Pinus radiata “Monteray Pine”

Thuja occidentalis Smargd “Emerald Book leaf”

Or Adenanthos serrica “The Albany Woolly Bush” which is not a conifer – but a grey foliaged plant

 

 

arris, June 15th, 2016

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