By Lynn Barber

It is never too early or too late to start thinking about a Christmas tree. Some people like artificial. Some prefer real trees. Some even grow their own in their landscape. My favorite grow-your-own Christmas tree is Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara). This beautiful tree can perform very well in the landscape as a Christmas tree. It has beautiful silver-blue needles, drooping branches and a pyramid shape. Deodar cedar can reach a height of 40-50 ft. and spread of 20-30 ft. It has been used as a street, median and specimen tree.

Plant it away from driveways and sidewalks to allow this tree to spread without interfering with vehicle and pedestrian traffic, which means you won’t have to prune it. Deodar cedar has a fast growth rate and requires full sun. It tolerates sandy, clay and loam soil and prefers soil pH that is acidic to slightly alkaline, 4.5-7.2. It produces oval cones that are 3-6 inches in length, but does not attract wildlife. If we would have a cold winter, the top of the tree may dieback and decline.

Denise Kantak said, “This is a wonderful tree that provides beauty and a grand presence with very little care. It’s a great tree to plant outdoors because it is drought tolerant, pretty much pest free and reminds me of the holidays all year long. I also like how it can be kept at a reasonable height for a number of years, providing a beautiful green vista all year long and an instant Christmas tree during the holidays. My family and I enjoy decorating our Deodar Cedar for several holidays during the year.”

There is a Deodar cedar in the Teaching Garden at the University of Florida Plant City campus at 1200 N. Park Rd. in Plant City. For directions, visit gcrec.ifas.ufl.edu/pcc/visit.shtml and click on menu. It is well worth the trip to see this magnificent tree and the teaching garden, which is open to the public daily from sunrise to sunset.

For more information on this beautiful cedar, see the University of Florida publication, Cedrus deodara “Kashmir”: “Kashmir” Deodar Cedar, by Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson, at edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st135, from which this article was adapted.