In my role as one of the “Savor Sisters” I wrote about pine last week. I discussed its use as a herb in the our blog “Savor the Southwest.” Hopefully I got folks thinking about a living holiday tree (rather than a cut one) for their homes. Many species of pine grow well in the Southwest.
Do consider a living holiday tree – be it a Chanukah bush or Christmas tree – for your home this year. Once you are done with them indoors, they can be planted in the yard. Pines make a lovely landscape plant. They provide housing for wildlife, especially hawks and owls, plus shade your home helping reduce energy consumption for cooling. The needles can be used as a wonderful mulch for plants around your yard or garden. Once established, most pines will need water once a month in the hot dry months.
Living holiday trees can make a nice addition to the yard. Growing up, we had three in succession, one per year – one for each kid. Within a few years in the ground they made a lovely small grove of climbable trees – and our own secret spot under their boughs.
Southwestern nurseries commonly offer Afghan or eldarica pine (Pinus eldarica) from Afghanistan or the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) from the area around Aleppo in the Middle East.
But if you are going to plant it, water it, and take care of it – how about some food from it? Pine nuts are tasty. Four species of Southwestern pinyon pines do well here, as well as two species of nut pine, the source of most commercial pine nuts.
Species to Select From
These species can currently be found in the nursery trade and are known to survive in the Southwest.
Pinus cembroides – Mexican pinyon
Pinus remota – Texas pinyon or papershell pinyon
Pinus edulis – Two-needle pinyon or Colorado pinyon
Pinus monophylla – Single-leaf pinyon
Old World nut pines:
Pinus pinea – Italian stone pine
Pinus koraiensis – Korean pine
Enjoy your living holiday tree, what ever the species. But do avoid over-watering it while it is in its winter dormancy. Also, avoid taking it from a toasty warm house directly out into a freezing yard. Some time in a transition zone, like on a sheltered patio, will help increase it’s survival chances.
More about growing these living holiday trees in your yard in my next post.
If you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $23).
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