My affection for tiny Christmas trees means I keep them lit well beyond December. (I kept the lights on until a record-breaking June 6 this year.) Thing is, that’s a really long time to worship at the corpse of Douglas fir, and there’s definitely a more sustainable way to keep your tannenbaum eternal. A live tabletop Christmas tree is just a beautiful houseplant the rest of the year. And if you’re looking to keep your evergreen truly evergreen, you may want to meet the Norfolk pine tree.
Thought technically not a true pine tree, the Norfolk is perfect if you want to have a very merry houseplant all year round. According to Erin Marino, plant expert and director of brand marketing at The Sill, classic pine trees eventually need to be brought outside in order to thrive. That way they can get soak up enough sun while simultaneously avoiding drying out.
“[The Norfolk] ‘pine’ is a great choice if you’re looking for a sustainable alternative to the traditional Christmas tree that you can keep alive in your home all year long,” says Marino. “Although most cone-bearing trees like pines are better suited for cold conditions, the Norfolk Island Pine—native to Norfolk Island in the South Pacific—is uniquely tropical.”
Um, love it. Sounds fresh. Of course, if you want a traditional pine tree, that’s fine, too! You just might want to examine where you live and what the average temperatures are during this time of year if you plan on repotting it.
“If you’re in a colder climate like the northeast, then a true potted pine evergreen will do great outdoors during the colder months,” says Marino. “That’s its natural habitat. If you’re in a warmer climate like Florida, you might find yourself putting your tropical evergreen—like the Norfolk, not a true pine—outdoors during the winter because it doesn’t get that cold out.”
And when it comes to extending the life of your true pine tree, there’s a really easy way to show it some love: sunlight, water, and location, location, location!
“You can ease up on the water when the plant becomes more mature and is potted in the ground, but as a small, immature pine in a container, plenty of water and well draining soil is key,” Marino says. “True pines are really suited for the outdoors; you can keep them inside as holiday decoration for a few weeks during Christmastime, but they aren’t suited to be year round houseplants. Instead, move your little pine outdoors after celebrating, into a sunny spot, and water regularly. Make sure your planter has a drainage hole when it’s outside.”
The best live tabletop Christmas tress to keep year-round
1. Norfolk Island Pine, $48
The Sill’s classic Norfolk pine arrives in two sizes (small and medium) and a variety of ceramic pots. I personally love this fuller, medium sized plant with a festive holiday red pot. Rainbow twinkle lights may be a bit overwhelming, but it can definitely house some tinsel.
Shop Now: Norfolk Island Pine, $48
If you want something a little daintier, Bloomscape has a friendly Norfolk of their own. Keep it on your desk with tiny mid-century modern Christmas bulbs. There you have it: instant tidings of good cheer.
Shop Now: Tabletop Norfolk Pine, $65
Finally, Brighter Blooms has a Norfolk pine that’s tall and proud, while still not taking up too much room. It comes in 2-3 feet, 3-4 feet, and 4-5 feet, and arrives with that very hybrid Fraser-fir-meets-palm-tree vibe.
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