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Tuesday, November 14, 2017 HouseplantsWinter

The Perfect Christmas Tree

My taste in Christmas trees has changed a lot over the decades. When our kids were little, for example, my wife, Karen, and I always went to great lengths to find a local tree farm where we could cut down the “perfect” tree together. Of course, that generally meant I had to lie on the cold ground with my face full of needles while I used a dull saw to gnaw away at the tree’s base. Meanwhile, Karen would be out searching for the kids who found the maze-like field of identical little trees to be a great place to hide. Then, of course, came the struggle to get the tree into the house without leaving behind a trail of vacuum-choking needles. Let’s just say that the thrill of a live tree slowly began to fade.

As the kids grew older, we began traveling over the holidays so that meant our era of fresh trees came to an end (if you’ve ever seen videos of a fresh tree bursting into flames like a Roman candle you’ll understand why leaving a cut tree in an empty house was not appealing to us). Instead, we marched boldly into the world of artificial trees and bought one that looked remarkably life like. But sadly, after a few seasons of being packed and unpacked, the branches became threadbare and worn. Plus, it was always a huge struggle to get the tree back in the box it came in and down the basement stairs for the off-season. It definitely took the “merry” out of Merry Christmas.

Eventually, however, we came to the perfect solution — a Norfolk Island pine. These gorgeous trees are not true pines, have a perfect pyramidal shape, and are covered in soft, bright green needles. What’s more, they grow happily indoors and never burst into flames unexpectedly! And after the holidays are over you just remove your ornaments and lights and voila, you have an easy-care houseplant you can enjoy year round.

The branches of a Norfolk Island pine aren’t as stiff as a traditional pine or spruce, but they are sturdy enough to hold lightweight ornaments and lights. For lighting we rely on feather-light, battery-run LED light strands to illuminate our Norfolk Island pine. And this little tree is ideal for hanging the vintage ornaments from my childhood Christmas tree. To give our home that fresh woodsy scent we all associate with Christmas, we just light a stick of pine incense whenever the mood strikes.

Norfolk Island pines come in a variety of sizes, so you can use them almost anywhere in your home. We’ve used 6-inch-tall trees in a holiday centerpiece, medium-sized trees to brighten up a guest bedroom when family comes to visit, and taller specimens at the foot of our stairway or flanking the front entry. We can even squeeze presents under them by lifting the pots up a foot or so on an old footstool or pile of bricks.

We also like the fact that having a Norfolk Island pine as our holiday tree is an eco-friendly way to celebrate. No trees are cut down and no plastic is used when you opt for a Norfolk Island pine. And, as a houseplant, the tree has also been proven to help improve and purify indoor air quality. Just remember, that Norfolk Island pines are tropical in nature and can’t be used outdoors if temperatures drop below freezing.

Discover fun ways to decorate your Norfolk Island pine for every season.

Written by:
Doug Jimerson

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