Unusual Christmas Trees: Growing Christmas Tree Alternatives

Potted Succulent Plant With Christmas Ornaments
nontraditional christmas
(Image credit: iagodina)

Most people love the traditions of Christmas, but some of us like to put our own twist on decorations. For example, you don’t have to use fir or spruce for the tree this year. Using different plants for Christmas trees can be creative and fun.

Ready to try unconventional Christmas trees? Read on for our take on top Christmas tree alternatives.

Unusual Christmas Trees

Ready, set, let’s wade into unusual Christmas tree territory by thinking about a tree constructed of succulents. You can probably find one for sale online and you’re good to go. If you are a succulent fan, this is a DIY project that may appeal to you. All you need to get started is a cone of chicken wire, some sphagnum moss, and lots of little succulents or succulent cuttings.

Soak the moss in water, then stuff it into the wire cone. Take one succulent cutting at a time and wedge it into the tightly packed moss. Attach it in place with a greening pin. When you have enough greenery, go ahead and decorate your succulent tree.

Alternatively, just use an upright potted succulent, like a jade plant or aloe, and hang it with Christmas ornaments. When the holiday is over, your succulents can go in the garden.

A Different Christmas Tree

If you’ve never had a Norfolk Island pine, you may think this little tree is a relative of the old-fashioned pine, fir, or spruce Christmas trees. With its green symmetrical branches, it looks like one too. Yet, despite its common name, the tree is not a pine at all.

It’s a tropical plant from the South seas which means that, unlike a real pine, it makes a great houseplant as long as you offer it humidity. In the wild, these trees grow into giants, but in a container, they stay a workable size for many years.

You can decorate your Norfolk Island pine for Christmas with light ornaments and streamers. Don’t put anything heavy on the branches though, since they are not as strong as those of more typical Christmas trees.

Other Christmas Tree Alternatives

For those who would like truly unusual Christmas trees, we have a few more ideas. How about decorating a magnolia plant? Magnolias aren’t conifers but they are evergreen. Buy a small container magnolia in December, selecting small, leafed cultivars like “Little Gem” or “Teddy Bear.” These magnolias make elegant Christmas tree alternatives in December and can get planted in the backyard when the fun is done.

Holly trees work well as unconventional Christmas trees too. These are already considered appropriate plants for Christmas – fa la la la la and all that. To use them as alternative Christmas trees, just buy a container plant in time for the holidays. With glossy green leaves and red berries, a holly “tree” will bring immediate cheer to your holidays. Afterward, it can brighten the garden.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.