Tabletop Christmas Trees
everyone is able to enjoy a full sized Christmas tree in their
home. For some, budgets may be stretched or space can be at a premium.
Others may not have the time to put up a tree this holiday season.
Whatever the reason, an alternative to full sized Christmas trees are
tabletop plants that can be decorated for the holidays, offered as
holiday gifts, and in some cases can be used for several
have been used for holiday decorations for many years. They have a
series of layered branches, five to a layer, that are covered with
short soft dark green needles. The stems are widely separated, making
room for hanging decorations, but in some cases have a sparse look.
Pine tree seedlings are well adapted to container culture, and potted
plants can live for several years with minimal care. The problem with
these tabletops trees is that when they get too big for the container
or the patio they need to be replanted in the landscape, and not
everyone has an appropriate place for them.
Besides their use as full sized Christmas trees, small Leyland
rooted cuttings can be used as tabletop decorations as well. Their dark
green smooth scale-like foliage makes an excellent contrast with red
bows and a variety of other decorations. This tree is a hybrid of two
West Coast relatives of the redwood family.
is a culinary herb, but Californians may also recognize that
it is used as an evergreen shrub. It can also be kept as a potted plant
and pruned into many different shapes, including a traditional cone-shaped
Christmas tree. Decorations can
be added, and the sturdy
woody stems can support heavier glass or metal ornaments with little
The distinctive aroma of rosemary can add to the scents of the
holidays. To maintain the shape, trim off branches that grow outside of
the desired shape, then use the cuttings for cooking, strewing on
walkways to release the aroma, or even added to the grill or fireplace
to release their smell. The challenge with caring for this plant is to
keep it on the dry side, but not so dry that it dies of drought.
Repotting may be needed as they can get rootbound, and if put outside
in well drained soil it can survive most of the temperatures found here.
Italian Stone Pine is an occasionally available holiday plant.
Seedlings of this true pine tree have blue-green needles. Young foliage
measures about an inch long, making this young pine tree look a bit
like a Colorado Blue Spruce, but without the prickly needle feel. They
are native to the dry cool climates of Spain and Portugal, and have
been used as a source of "pine nuts," so it is also known as the
European Nut Pine.
seedlings of this tree are grown in containers and sheared for a
desirable cone shape. During the holidays they can be found in garden
centers and florist shops and can be purchased already decorated as a
holiday gift. They too like it dry, but since they also prefer cooler
temperatures, will not be successful here if planted outside in
Florida's humid warm climate. Enjoy it for the season and if
you can’t mail it back to Spain, add it to the compost pile
when it starts to look ragged.
Cypress is another new tabletop
Christmas tree offered by
retailers, also known known as the Lawson or Port-Orford
cedar, a native of northern California and southern
Oregon. "Elwood" is the dwarf cultivar used as a
tabletop tree, and the crushed foliage has a pungent
smell. Japanese like its wood, Bonsai enthusiasts
makes it into collectibles and Europeans love it in their landscapes.
Extension Service / IFAS /University of Florida
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