Mini Christmas & Holiday Trees: A new way to use arborvitae

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Whether you’re a gardener, houseplant lover, or just a great gift giver, our new mini Holiday/Christmas trees are the perfect way to spread cheer. While classic Christmas trees are usually firs or pines, our favorite arborvitaes (or Thuja) might be even better. Why? Their smaller stature makes them suited for entryways, patio containers, and tabletops. They keep their appeal for even longer than cut trees, as their roots are intact. Finally, unlike other Christmas trees, this one can be planted in your landscape if given proper care through the holidays. Decorate them with lights and ornaments or let them shine on their own. We can’t wait to see what you do with them!

Which tree is best for you?

There has been debate around our greenhouse on which arborvitae serves as the best holiday tree. Spoiler alert: you really can’t go wrong. ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae (pictured left) may tower over Full Speed A Hedge® ‘American Pillar’ in the landscape, but it’s short and stout in our gallon containers, averaging 32″ tall. Dense branches and dark green foliage give it a lush appearance that looks picture-perfect as centerpieces on dining tables or countertops.

If you’re charmed by the nostalgic Charlie Brown Christmas tree, then Full Speed A Hedge® ‘American Pillar’ is perfect for you. It may be a little lanky, but honestly, that only adds to its appeal (at least in our eyes). It’s much taller, averaging 40″ tall at shipping. Its lower trunk is bare, which means you can easily nestle small presents around it. We think it’s best suited for patio containers, entryways, or family rooms.

Two mini living Christmas trees comparing sizes.
'Green Giant' arborvitae (left) and Full Speed A Hedge® ‘American Pillar’ (right)

Living Christmas trees are grown with an intact root system, which means they can be planted in your landscape after use. They’re typically grown in containers with soil or have their roots wrapped in burlap. Since they haven’t been cut, they stay fresher (and more fragrant) for longer. At Great Garden Plants, our living trees are grown in one gallon containers that are wrapped with decorative paper and a twine bow.

There are many benefits to living Christmas trees. They stay fresh for longer, drop fewer needles (if any at all), and can be replanted in your landscape to enjoy for years to come. 

With proper care, living holiday or Christmas trees can be easily enjoyed through the holiday season in pots, or for years if you plant it in your landscape. For the longest lasting display, keep your arborvitae outside for as long as possible. Ensure the soil stays moist, but not wet, and keep it in an area protected from strong winds. Even if its cold outside, it’s best to leave them outdoors! The heat indoors can be stressful on your tree, so avoid bringing it indoors for long periods of time (longer than a week).

Once the holidays are over, plant it in your garden. This is easier for gardeners in warmer zones where the ground isn’t frozen yet. If you live in colder zones, we recommend preparing a site to plant them in advance. Before the ground completely freezes (just a few weeks before the holidays), dig a hole and leave it open until you’re ready to plant. Ensure you water and mulch your trees after planting for the best performance over winter!

Yes, you can keep your living Christmas tree indoors, but not forever! Arborvitae performs best outdoors in cooler temperatures. The heat and dry air indoors can cause them stress over time. Bring your trees indoors for short periods (a few days at a time) and position them away from heating sources. 

Written by: Miranda Niemiec, click here to read bio.

Questions, comments, or concerns? Let us know! We have an experienced, knowledgeable staff ready to make sure your garden turns out perfect. Or check out our other blogs, here.