Trees and Shrubs forum→Evergreens for Christmas Decorations

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Name: Alice K
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
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Alicealice
Jan 23, 2021 3:43 PM CST
I want to plant some evergreens for use in Christmas decorations, such as wreaths and garlands. I have many mature Norway spruces, a mature arbor vitae, and several hollies. I am in zone 6 in Pittsburgh, and have almost 2 acres, but our soil is clay and fairly acidic. Any suggestions? Here's a photo of this year's wreath:


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Name: John
Scott County, KY (Zone 5b)
You can't have too many viburnums..
Region: United States of America Region: Kentucky Farmer Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
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ViburnumValley
Jan 23, 2021 8:06 PM CST
Hi Alicealice:

You should list where you live/garden in your information. That will help others here offer advice that best matches your growing conditions.

I'd be derelict in my duties if I didn't mention Viburnums, Hollies, and various conifers for such a balmy climate as yours.

Here are several broadleaf evergreen Viburnum selections that should be plenty hardy for you, and that have good foliage around the holiday season. There are more, but I don't know how far/wide you might want to go to find them.

Viburnum x rhytidophylloides 'Willowwood', 'Alleghany' (maybe has a hometown feel?)
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Viburnum x pragense
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Viburnum x 'Eskimo'
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Viburnum x 'Conoy'
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Several of these are selections made at the US National Arboretum by the late Dr. Donald Egolf. Here's a link:
https://www.usna.usda.gov/scie...

You mentioned you already have several Hollies, but you don't say which you have. Here are several broadleaf evergreen Ilex selections that should be plenty hardy for you, and that have good foliage around the holiday season. There are more, but I don't know how far/wide you might want to go to find them. You will need male plants to provide pollen so that the female plants will set the showy colorful fruit.

Ilex opaca; all are great plants for wreaths. Female selections will have the showy fruit in red, orange, or yellow. A very few have variegated leaves. The Orlando Pride series was selected by Pride Nurseries of Butler PA - not far from you. Here's a link: https://www.pridenursery.net/
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Ilex x meserveae Blue Holly series; 'Blue Prince', 'Blue Stallion', and 'Blue Princess' are stalwarts. There are many more, like 'Golden Girl' shown here.
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Ilex x China Holly hybrid series; 'China Girl' and 'China Boy' are standards. There are more.
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Ilex pedunculosa Longstalk Holly; this is a rare and choice species, unique in the long pedicels that show the prolific fruit against thornless leaves.
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Ilex verticillata Winterberry Holly; while not evergreen, there are many named selections, they are very hardy as a species, and the female selections have immensely showy fruit that can often last all winter on the plant. These cut branches are prized in the florist industry, because the fruit can stay on branches in dry displays for up to two years. I have just such a vase on my living room mantle right now. 'Winter Red', 'Winter Gold', 'Maryland Beauty', 'Oosterwijk', 'Southern Gentleman', 'Jim Dandy' are good female and male selections, and there are many more. I have grown and planted in my Viburnum Valley Farm landscape over two dozen selections.
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I'll address conifers another time.
John
Name: Alice K
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
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Alicealice
Jan 24, 2021 8:40 PM CST
Thanks, John! I know I have a pair of the Meserve hollies, "Blue Prince" and "Blue Princess", a pair of winter berries, of which the male was "Southern Gentleman", but I don't remember the female, and a variegated holly that was a gift. I'll have to wait a bit to go out and check the tags on them, as I'm currently housebound with a broken ankle. Thanks for the tips!
Name: Pete
South Central Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
leafypete
Jan 25, 2021 4:21 PM CST
If your ground is wet, try for a European Alder, Alnus glutinosa. They make those small round cone clusters (1/2 inch long) used in wreaths. They do need wet ground though.

If you have an open, dry site, you may consider Red Pine, Pinus resinosa. The cones are the size of something between a pool ball and a ping pong ball and quite rounded. It has some drawbacks (large tree eventually, some needle problems too), but here in E. PA it grows fine if sited in a sunny place where the soil drains well. They start making cones when the trees are about 6ft. tall or shorter.

A long term addition might be an evergreen Magnolia. Their seed containers (what are they called?) drop in late summer and look like pine cones with holes. Some kinds of Magnolia grandiflora are small, but if you have room, go for the large kind, you won't be sorry.

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