Question for dax, others: z5 multipurpose evergreen?

So my wife mentioned it would be nice to have a “Christmas tree” out front. Her idea of something that can be trimmed to a traditional evergreen form, and actually strung with lights and things out front of the house.

I have very few ornamentals, I make everything around the house carry its own weight with the exception of a few lilacs, and I may still make wine from their blossoms.

Any recommendations for a nice Evergreen for trimming out front into a Christmas tree form, and bonus points if it’s unique in terms of color, variegation, has edible nuts, etc. but primary goal being an attractive, full, puramidal tree…

Thanks all

If you were in zone 8+ I’d recommend Rosemary.

Variegated hollies might be a possibility, but the honeymaid type are very inconsistent with regard to the variegation. The variety I’ve seen with the best variegation is not zone 5 reliably hardy (I’ve killed 2 in my zone 6-7ish yard.

Italian nut pines are hardy enough, but they take forever to start bearing…

Will be following the thread myself out of curiosity.


From my end, she is looking for a “needle pine”; holly is out. I was more thinking of like the tiger eye Korean Pine and things like that and if they make a nice Christmas type tree. I know I’m not looking at a Bluespruce because they’re pretty but miserable…I will tolerate that level of poking from roses and maybe jujubes but not from a pine

My variegated holly died too and I am in zone, 7a, I have seen others though that are not as close to the sea as mine, survive beautifully. My other holly trees are twenty feet tall and filled with berries, the robins will love them this winter!

You don’t really want to be trimming on a full size tree because you’ll end up with a big mess in the end (broken branches from snow and 100’s of branches making it so dense it can’t breathe.) If you can afford a grafted conifer that grows 4-6" a year that’s got some size to it already, that’s really the best you’re going to be able to do. And if you want an edible nut pine you cant trim on it because you’ll end up cutting off the buds and there won’t be buds below very far on each branch. So I would plant either a pine with edible nuts that will grow large or I would choose a fir that grows 4-6" per year.

Korean pines grow 9" a year. They get wide though quickly. They’re about 2/3’s as wide as tall as the develop from seedling to ultimate height. If you can ‘tolerate’ that, it’s of the loveliest of all the pines and will grow in a hot and humid zone 5 or a dry and hot zone 5 perfectly. I can’t think of a zone 5 it won’t grown in. Of course you can buy grafted cultivars of Korean pine that are not as wide. Just remember if you plant a 2’ seedling it’s not going to be 5’ tall for 7-9 years because of the root establishment period and because no Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) will begin to put on annual growth of 9" for probably 4-5 years after planting. You’ll be looking more at 4-6" per year until it’s ready to go.

Tell me where you are in zone 5 please if you want more suggestions.


5a just south of madison, wi

Well, let me see what conifer kingdom and western evergreen and maybe a few others have for sale. I love this stuff so I’m glad to help.


come to think of it, I’m removing a conifer collection this coming spring. I have a 2.5’ Pinus cembra ‘Stricta’ if that will work for you guys. You get it all: nuts, beauty, not wide, not fast but not too slow (grows about the same as Pinus koraiensis.)

This year photograph. It might be 3’ I don’t know. 30$ plus shipping or you come pick it up. Shipping is going to be a killer probably. Maybe up to 40 bucks.



I would have to say that Pinus cembra ‘Stricta’ is from what I see as available your best option. My old buddy Jason Hupp at Evergreen Nursery has (2) #6 containers for 94$ plus whatever shipping will cost.

Unless you have room for a real large or wide growing specimen, it’s the best answer to your solution in my opinion. I’ve been doing this for a long time. There are Pinus koraiensis cultivars available also from Jason. If you have the space and want a fluffier looking pine with really long needles than go by all means purchase a Korean pine. Both Swiss Stone and Korean pine are the sought after pines for nuts along with Pinus edulis and Pinus monophylla. Korean ans Swiss Stone are the pines for your part of the world, however.


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Arborvitae evergreens are nice compact trees. Depending on the variety they can grow into different shapes without trimming. Some have yellow or blue colors. I grow a couple near the front porch specifically for the Christmas lights.

The trees must look great. I love mine too!

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So now to play devils advocate what would you recommend if I wanted a Christmas tree type tree without edible nuts, but with a nice form and perhaps anything else unusual attribute- wise?

Concolor fir. Soft blue green needles, grows 8-12" a year, nice Christmas tree shape, 50-80’ tall, widely available and fairly disease resistant in Des Moines.

Well some pretty amazing conifers are:
Picea glauca ‘Spruce Lane’
Picea mariana ‘Aureovariegata’ (slow though)
Picea engelmannii ‘Bush’s Lace’
Picea glauca ‘Pendula’
Picea omorika ‘Pendula Bruns’
Picea omorika ‘Aurea’
Picea abies ‘Jakobsen’s Aurea’
Picea glauca ‘Dent’
Abies concolor ‘Sherwood Blue’
Abies veitchii ‘Glauca’

Abies alba ‘Green Spiral’
Abies balsamea ‘Weeping Larry’
Abies concolor ‘Blue Cloak’

Seedling conifers I would plant anytime/any day
Picea omorika
Abies balsamea var. phanerolepis (and fast!)
Abies veitchii

I’m sure I could come up with more but these probably plenty to make a decision on.


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A bird or squirrel planted a seed in my orchard area. I finally had to cut it down to make room. I don’t know where the spruce seed came from. It was growing about 12 inches a year with about 6 hrs sun so I expect it would have gotten very tall. It’s now our largest Christmas tree at 8+ ft.


It’s a beauty. Ideal Christmas tree. If you want to know for sure what it is get me a clear photo of the foliage of 12" of the tip of a branch. Otherwise I would say it’s white spruce, Picea glauca. but P.glauca var. densata cannot be ruled out. Maybe it’s a fir, but I’ll take your word that it’s a spruce.


Color is darker green than photo shows. Just guessing it’s a spruce.

Picea abies. Norway spruce.


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Thanks, now that we have that one inside my wife wants me to plant Christmas trees for future use. Around here cut Christmas trees that size cost $100 to $150 dollars.
Also, I noticed columnar Norway Spruce trees are available. They would make a nice privacy screen/wind break for those with the patience to let them grow.

This is a really great guy, Don.
He’d recommend what to grow on Long Island. He sells bundles of 25’s. I’m certain Picea omorika would grow great for you and they’re highly attractive but Don knows more about the Christmas tree business. Firs are the real beauties everything Christmas trees. And they’re not sharp-needled.

The beauty of Picea omorika (Serbian spruce) is that the needles are recurved showing the blue stomata lines under the needles. Anyway, maybe you give Don a call.


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