If you're allergic to that wonderful aromatic smell of evergreens (as I am), what do you do for a Christmas tree? I refuse to use something fake; I want the emotional lift of living green at this dim time of year. It's okay if it's little, but I want something like a tree.
The Norfolk Island pine, a native of tropical rainforests, is readily available as a houseplant, looks great and doesn't smell. However it must be misted, and if you overwater or underwater it, needles and then whole branches, starting at the bottom turn brown, fall off and don't regrow. I've killed more than one, and now prefer more forgiving houseplants.
Once an indoor ivy plant (Hedera), that I'd grown for a few years, got big enough to train on a three-foot tall wire topiary form in tree shape. This plant was much more versatile; it even tolerated going dry, as long as I didn't give it too much sun. I put it atop a 3-foot wooden stool that I draped with a red cloth, and hung tiny ornaments on it.
When I put it into the pot big enough to support the topiary form, I compacted the soil I added. I wanted to avoid having the soil settle so I'd have to keep adding more as always seems to happen with commercial potting mixes. But the original soil the plant came in was loose. The ivy died; when I knocked it out of the pot, I could see that the roots never ventured out into the new, packed soil.
Thnking about the ivy naturally led my mind to holly (Oh, the holly and the ivy...); I called several nurseries, and found not only two-gallon potted outdoor plants (which I could bring back indoors if I put them in our unheated room for a week first), but also a few tiny indoor plants (that would be easier). I was all ready to go buy one, until I started thinking about my collection of miniature ornaments... hanging decorations is painful enough on a tree with bristly needles, but on a sharp-spined holly?
Maybe a boxwood: nice small rounded leaves, not particular about light, grows slowly, takes well to pruning. Several varieties are commonly grown as houseplants. Hmm, they want misting in temperatures above 65. Drat, I don't like to mist, mold makes my sinuses ache.
I should get another ivy, and do the soil right.
© Copyright 2002 Catherine Holmes Clark