Ellen has been gardening with and appreciating native plants for eleven years in north metro Atlanta. She is especially fond of native shrubs and trees but is willing to learn to love herbaceous plants as well. Helping others to see the beauty and versatility of Georgia's native plants, whether it be in the wild or in the garden, is both a passion and a compulsion -- just ask her kids! Ellen is an active member of the Georgia Native Plant Society and the Georgia Botanical Society. She uses her personal blog, usinggeorgianativeplants.blogspot.com, to share seasonal ideas and pictures about native plants in her area.

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Dec 12
A Southern Christmas Tree  

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A Southern Christmas Tree
by Ellen Honeycutt - posted 12/12/12

If you want a truly old fashioned Christmas tree in the South, forget those firs, those spruces, even those Virginia pines. You'll want a Juniper - a Juniper that is known to most people as eastern redcedar. This juniper is Juniperus virginiana.

You can even decorate it outdoors!


For many years the eastern redcedar has been selected by families to be their Christmas tree. It grows all throughout the state. In the southern and coastal areas there is a subspecies known as Juniperus virginiana L. var. silicicola. The naturally pleasing shape, color and fragrance of young trees makes them perfect for Christmas trees.


Many tree farmers still raise these trees for sale in Georgia. For some families, it is the only tree they want. You can also purchase them at nurseries as live Christmas trees. Follow instructions to keep them well watered while in the house (the air is warm in the house and can dry them quickly). Immediately after the holiday, move them outdoors (move them first to a sheltered place, especially if the air is much colder, so that they can get used to the change). Plant them in late January or February. Give them plenty of room as they can get quite big as a mature tree.








Eastern redcedar is a conifer - that is it bears cones - but you might not recognize it as such. That is because the cone has fused scales that result in it resembling a blue berry. Only female plants have these cones, but the birds do love them so you're lucky if you get a female. The birds also appreciate the evergreen branches both in the summer and the winter as a place of protection.


These cones in the spring

Turn into these "berries"

Whether you use for decoration or not, it's a wonderful native tree. And it might just be right for your place!



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