Gardening Help Search

Plant Samples

Due to the threat of Boxwood Blight, Rose Rosette and other serious pest/disease issues, the Garden is no longer allowing plant samples to be brought in for identification or diagnosis. These problems can spread to the garden displays and severely impact our living plant collection.

Please help us protect our plants by taking clear photos of the plant you need identified or diagnosed. Images can be emailed to plantinformation@mobot.org or brought to the Plant Doctors at the Center for Home Gardening (Open every day, 9 am - 5 pm).  

For any additional questions regarding samples, please call: 314-577-9562.

Christmas Tree Selection and Care

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If you choose and prepare your Christmas tree carefully it should last at least two weeks indoors and often much longer depending upon the kind of tree you purchase, the conditions in your home and the care you give it.

There are several kinds of trees commonly used as Christmas trees. By nature, some hold their needles longer than others. As a group, pines hold their needles the longest. They can be recognized by their longer needles, 3-5 inches, that are attached to the branches in clusters of 2-5 needles. Common pines used for Christmas trees are: Scots or scotch pines, white pine and red pine also called Norway pine.

Next in line are the true firs, these include balsam fir and Fraser fir. They both give off a wonderful fragrance. Balsam fir will not hold its needles as long as Fraser fir but Fraser fir is more expensive. Next is Douglas fir which is not a true fir. It looks somewhat like spruce but has soft needles. Spruces can also be found but the sharp, stiff needles and their tendency to drop needles quickly reduce their desirability.

After purchasing a tree it's up to you to keep it fresh. Transport the tree to your home with care. Trees exposed to wind during the drive home can dry out. If the tree will be exposed to wind, wrap it securely in a blanket or plastic tarp to protect it.

After arriving home, make a clean cut on the base of the trunk. Remove at least 1 inch of the old trunk. This exposes fresh tissue which will absorb water more readily. After cutting, even if the tree will be stored before setting up inside, place the cut end into water. Once the tree is indoors, check daily and keep the water level at least one inch above the base of the trunk at all times. Do not let the stand dry out.

Fact Sheet: Selection and Care of Christmas Trees (PDF)

Plant Finder profiles for common Christmas tree species

Balsam fir (Abies balsamea)
Colorado spruce (Picea pungens)
Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus)
Fraser fir (Abies fraseri)
Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris)
White spruce (Picea glauca)

Seasonal Gardening Tips

  • Water houseplants with tepid water. Cold tap water may shock plants.
     
  • Be sure newly purchased indoor plants are well protected for the trip home. Exposure to icy temperatures for even a few moments may cause injury. 
     
  • On cold nights, move houseplants back from icy windows to prevent chilling injury. 
     
  • Christmas trees hold needles longer if you make a clean, fresh cut at the base and always keep the trunk standing in water.
     
  • Apply mulches to bulbs, perennials and other small plants once the ground freezes, to prevent injury to plants from frost heaving.
     
  • Clean and oil all garden hand tools before storing for winter.
     
  • Be sure to shut off and drain any outdoor water pipes or irrigation systems that may freeze during cold weather.

    Learn more
Enjoy the fragrant blooms of the Ozark Witch Hazel flowering in shrub borders or wooded areas on warm sunny days.
Enjoy the fragrant blooms of the Ozark Witch Hazel flowering in shrub borders or wooded areas on warm sunny days.
Repot any root-bound house plants now before vigorous growth occurs. Choose a new container that is only 1 or 2 inches larger in diameter than the old pot.
Repot any root-bound house plants now before vigorous growth occurs. Choose a new container that is only 1 or 2 inches larger in diameter than the old pot.
Bloom Time Calendar

See when plants bloom at the Garden:

Gardening Help

We have staff available to help you with your gardening questions:

  • Plant Doctors: Master Gardeners and Garden staff can answer your questions in person

    Center for Home Gardening
    Every day, 9 am - 4 pm

     
  • Horticulture Answer Service: Have your gardening questions answered over the phone

    Mon.-Fri., 9 am to 12 pm
    (314) 577-5143
     
  • Plant Information: Email your gardening questions to: 

    plantinformation@mobot.org

    We are currently experiencing a high volume of emails, 
    therefore response time may be delayed. We thank you for your patience and apologize for the inconvenience.