Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit Module

The Four Best Alt-Christmas Trees

You could keep buying and tossing your Tannenbaum. Or you could try a festive, easy-to-decorate plant that will weather the winter.

Norfolk Island Pine
Norfolk Island Pine Photo: Michael Zajakowski

1 Norfolk Island Pine

Araucaria heterophylla
The plant:A potted conifer — basically, a miniature Christmas tree masquerading as a houseplant
Where to find:Gethsemane Garden Center (5739 N. Clark St., Andersonville), where options range from two-and-a-half-footers ($30) to nine-foot giants ($400)
Decorating tip:“You can put light ornaments on it, but the fronds are not very strong, so place them closer to the trunk,” says hothouse assistant manager Bryan Wave.

2 Autograph Tree

Clusia rosea
The plant:A lavish shrub that grows a dense crown of fleshy foliage
Where to find:The Plantier (858 N. Ashland Ave., East Ukrainian Village), where three-to-five-foot specimens start at $50
Decorating tip:Scratch messages into the waxy leaves. “Guests can leave wishes or their New Year’s goals,” says owner An Chin.

3 Umbrella Tree

Schefflera actinophylla
The plant:A low-maintenance option with graceful leaflets resembling open umbrellas
Where to find:Nonprofit retailer Seguin Gardens & Gifts (5621 W. 31st St., Cicero), where a three-foot plant costs $40
Decorating tip:“It is shrubby, so if you want a more tree-like look, prune the leaves at the bottom,” says general manager Darrel Wood.

4 Peruvian Apple Cactus

Cereus peruvianus
The plant:A thorny species that slowly shoots up as a single thick column
Where to find:The trendy Plant Shop Chicago (4601 N. Elston Ave., Mayfair), where four-to-six-foot-tall cacti go for $150 to $300
Decorating tip:“Wrap it with LED lights, which don’t produce a lot of heat,” says co-owner Ozzy Gámez. “You can even cover the plant all the way. It’s dormant during winter.”


Edit Module


Edit Module
Submit your comment

Comments are moderated. We review them in an effort to remove foul language, commercial messages, abuse, and irrelevancies.

Edit Module