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 August 6-7, 2024 | Rosemont, Illinois

7 Alternatives to Traditional Christmas Trees

This year’s Christmas tree shortage could leave many revelers in search of something to put their gifts under. It’s a great opportunity to direct customers to a different kind of Christmas tree, one that expresses their individuality, one that they can enjoy all year long. What are some other alternatives to Christmas trees you’ll be marketing this holiday season?

Extreme weather, fewer suppliers, and years of underplanting have resulted in tighter supplies of Christmas trees. Add in the supply chain issues that are affecting the availability of just about everything this holiday season, and some consumers might find themselves without a Christmas tree this year. In order to keep holiday shoppers happy, it might be a good idea to direct them to alternative Christmas trees.

Even if Christmas trees are abundant in your area, marketing alternatives could attract customers who wouldn’t think to shop at their local garden center for a Christmas tree, don’t think they have space for a tree, don’t want to cut down a living tree, or are interested in something more personalized than the traditional tree. An independent garden center can offer that personal touch and help consumers find a personalized plant that will meet their needs. So which houseplants can step in for the classic Frasier fir? Here are 7 plants to hang your ornaments on.

A rosemary plant not only looks like a little Christmas tree but will also fill a space with its own unique perfume. On top of doing its ornament-holding duties, it can be harvested for use in a holiday recipe, whether roasted duck or a Hanukkah brisket.

Norfolk Island Pine
This conifer calls Norfolk Island, a five-mile-wide island 500 miles northwest of New Zealand, home. It has a unique character that looks the part all dressed up but doesn’t scream “Christmas tree.” As such, it won’t look out of place in a living room year-round.

These trees naturally grows in very wet conditions, but the cypress can thrive in diverse environments. While most people put their Christmas tree near a window, however, the cypress prefers indirect sunlight, and lots of it. With its slight evergreen scent and tapering pyramidal shape, his plant is a great option for someone who wants a beautiful tree with a traditional look but doesn’t have much space. It’s also great for someone who prefers a living tree.

Areca Palm
This pick (along with the next three) presents an interesting option for someone looking for something a little different. The Areca palm does well in a window, as it prefers filtered sunlight, but direct light from the low afternoon sun can scorch it. While probably not a plant you’d want to load up with lots of heavy ornaments, it’s an intriguing choice for those in warmer climes looking for a less wintry way to celebrate their winter holidays.

This low-maintenance houseplant would make a quirky Christmas tree for someone who lives alone or with just one or two other people. In the Middle East, the ficus symbolizes peace and abundance, two virtues anybody would love to bring into their home during the holidays. The ficus is also a type of fig tree, a tree that has a great deal of significance in a number of religions.

Avocado Tree
Avocado trees can be grown indoors, the Dwarf Lamb Haas being one variety of avocado tree suited to being kept as a houseplant, while the Bacon avocado tree is more suited to cooler climates. But all varieties of avocado need plenty of sunlight and slightly acidic, moist soil. On top of that, don’t expect Santa Claus to leave any avocados under the tree, not unless you are willing to wait a decade for the tree to begin producing fruit. Though this warm-weather, frost-phobic tree seems like the antithesis of a Christmas tree, it is, like the palm above, a fun alternative for people in climates that never get to experience a white Christmas, where holiday attire involves shorts and sandals, and maybe even a trip to the beach.

Orange Tree
Like some of these other plants, a potted orange tree requires a lot of sunlight—between 8 and 12 hours per day. This can be a challenge in winter, especially at higher latitudes. Orange trees also require cooler nighttime temperatures, so people who like to crank up the thermostat on those cold winter nights should probably avoid orange trees. But overall, it is not too difficult to care for an indoor orange tree. Though this is a decidedly non-traditional Christmas tree, an indoor orange tree will produce oranges, the fruit traditionally left in stockings. According to legend, St. Nicholas provided gold nuggets to a poor man who could not pay his daughters’ dowries. He tossed the gold through the window, which landed in the girls’ stockings, hanging by the fire to dry. In modern times, the gold is represented by oranges.