Would like a living Christmas Tree in my Zone

Suzi AKA DesertDanceDecember 21, 2013

Suggestions? We have 1.5 acres, and space is not a problem. We currently have 9 pinecone bearing huge trees with horrible long needles, that do NOT smell like pine.

I want a tree that has that pine smell, and grows in a pyramid so we can decorate it outside, and trim it like a Christmas tree.

This is not oregon! This gets hot summers, but we will provide water, and really cold winters with about 5 days below freezing.


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Not entirely traditional (as they have scale leaves, not needles), but you could try a cypress. This one is Moroccan Cypress, which would do well in your conditions.


    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 7:45PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The same Sunset Western Garden Book that you presumably got that Zone 19 out of would have suggestions for conifers that would grow in your area. There is a Plant Selection Guide section near the front with full descriptions (including Sunset Zones for each plant) and then farther along the plant encyclopedia that makes up the bulk of the book. There is also the Sunset web site.

Here is a link that might be useful: 8 Sustainable Christmas Tree Choices

This post was edited by bboy on Sat, Dec 21, 13 at 20:01

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 7:54PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i wonder if OP is using PINE... somewhat generically .,....

when they say something like: I want a tree that has that pine smell, and grows in a pyramid

many xmas trees... especially in MI ... are not pines ...

and, as to shape... an xmas tree shape is NOT natural .. most are trimmed severely for their 7 to 9 years of life ... to make that shape ... frankly.. i dont think there are many conifers that will have said shape .. over the potential decades ...

and finally ... i hope this is a long term project.. and not one you hope to accomplish in the next two days... if so .. we can get you there.. for the future ...

if you want an ID of those you have .... post us a pic or two.. of needles with a scale.. and the cones for resin ...


    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 9:06AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Oh wow! I never expected such great responses! That Cedar is beautiful, and I will definitely buy one of those! Thanks for that link, bboy! I made a list and will start shopping. I did look at the Sunset Western Garden list, but there are so many, and they don't state if there is a pine smell or not.

The pine smell I want comes from having "real" as opposed to fake Christmas trees when growing up. We now have a fake inside, and I miss that pine smell. We cut some branches from our current pines to bring in the house for ambiance, but they have no smell.

I would love to have you ID them for me, and when it gets sunnier outside, I'll take some scale photos. The pine-cones are very nice, and I dip them in wax for fire starting purposes.

Don't worry, Ken! This will be a long term project! Everyone here on the hill is worried about blocking views, so I'll plant my conifer's low on the hill so they can grow nice and tall., except for one, which will be in the front yard, and as you said, we will keep it trimmed. Douglas fir will be the perfect one, I'm thinking!


I'll post photos for ID in another thread!


This post was edited by desertdance on Sun, Dec 22, 13 at 11:41

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 11:20AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Pines (Pinus) are quite flammable and the southern states are becoming drier due to climate change - in your area you should keep fires in mind when placing trees. Read up on fire safety before doing much planting.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 2:54PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

We are very worried about fires here in So CA, and most of us take precautions with major irrigation lines. We do have great water pressure, and huge valves turn on sprinklers down our ravine and halfway up the other hill on our property.

We live on a hill full of rocks and native brush, and we keep 30' cleared around our property. The 9 existing pines are pretty big. We bought this property in January, and it was a mess! Neglected for many years. Overgrown with rotting decks.

We have cleared a lot of brush and are mainly planting fruit trees and a vineyard.

There is a seasonal stream at the bottom of our hill, and we may put a pine or two down there. I think the ones we have are volunteers. They do have irrigation with a drip system and it does work, and a few have too many dry leaves. I'll get your expert opinions on what could be wrong.

We were laughing this morning. We went out and took photos so you can ID our pines, and now I don't know which cones belong to which trees. There are some differences. Some have 11" long needles, and others have 3 or 4" needles. They are in groves, so it's hard to know which cone came from which tree.

Thanks for your concern about the fires. There was a huge one on the mountain across from us with many evacuations this summer. Idyllewild. Maybe you heard about it. They saved the resort, but a lot of acres burned.


    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 6:11PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Most of the country is a fire zone now, including the gulf states, due to a general heating up and disruption of rainfall patterns. I happen to live in one of the few little strips that isn't mapped as being subject to forest fires. The tourist town east of here, on the other side of the mountains looks to me to have had most of the hills around it burned off in recent years - even the forested mountain river valley just west of town, that used to feature fall color from larch trees is now mostly burnt trunks (except for the re-growth of shrubs and new, small trees around them).

California has a huge native flora so you might want to get to know whatever is left of the native "brush" on your place before clearing it all out. Except where you are making zones for fire protection.

How secure is this ample water supply you are using now? What if the portion of water you are spraying over the land there is cut off later, due to the general drying up that is occurring?

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 7:08PM
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I find firs and spruce have the most classic "Christmas Tree" look in the wild...but few would grow in your area. Maybe White Fir (Abies concolor)?

Cedar and juniper tend to have a nice smell, and several kinds of cedar have a natural cone shape. Maybe Incense cedar
(Calocedrus decurrens)?

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 1:20PM
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Arizona Cypress is very heat and drought resistant and usually has the classic Christmas tree cone shape without touching it. "Blue Ice" is probably the best cultivar choice commonly available. Most wild Arizona Cypress will have similar shape if available. "Carolina Sapphire" is very fragrant but has a looser growth form. AC is commonly grown in west Tx.

Afghan Pine is also very heat and drought resistant and has somewhat good form. It is more commonly grown in west Tx.
Both of these trees are often grown as Christmas trees.

Incense Cedar as mentioned above would be a good choice.
No experience with it but it is native to Cal.

Might even try Eastern Red Cedar. They have the typical Christmas tree shape but tend to bronze in winter. They are drought and heat resistant but not as much as the trees above.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 11:47AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

bboy, our water supply is from a nearby lake which is fed by snow and rains from the mountains above us. So far, we are not in drought, but we are trying to plant drought tolerant varieties.

There are huge boulders on our property, and many trees just grow right out of the cracks. Others, let their roots find a safe, damp place under a boulder. We'd have more planting space if it wasn't for the boulders, but they do serve a purpose!

I did choose the White Fir, and got some seeds for pine-nuts. I also got some Douglas Fir Seedlings. We do have the room, and pines make our slice of the mountain seem like a vacation in the pines!


    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 6:13PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)


If you're talking about CO2 induced climate warming, change, whatever. It's been already debunked...

I've looked through everything over the past hundreds of years. Honestly, it's all BS if it's all due to CO2. It is all cyclical due to solar activity and ocean mainly. We have very short memories apparently. I could easily cherry pick dates and show you that we're warming, stalling and cooling. It's only natural that climate changes over a long period of time due to various factors. Extra CO2 may turn out to be a blessing.

Anyway, I'd still suggest something more drought hardy trees due to increasing population meaning less water to divide up. Nothing to do with climate change or global warming caused by CO2. If anything, extra CO2 probably helps trees be more drought hardy and requiring less water anyway. Ironic...

With cold phase of pacific ocean meaning more and long lasting La Nina, California will see less rainfall on average for quite a while.

Arizona cypress comes to mind if I wanted to do nothing with minimal watering after planting. Very drought hardy.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 9:20PM
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