I'd like to grow 1 (or 2 or 3) trees that I can decorate as Christmas trees in the winter (just lights, really), and that will sit on my patio. In a perfect world they would grow quickly to, say, 6' or 8', and then stay that tall (I know, I may be dreaming). And they would have a nice conical shape, but maybe still be a little airy. And look nice all year round. Any suggestions?
Thanks for the suggestion, Kay, but I don't think that'll work for me. The Norfolk Island Pine is lovely, but I want to leave these outside year-round, and the Norfolk Island Pine won't make it here...
Thanks for your input Tapla -- I so value your thoughts! That's my worry -- that I'd be decorated a sick looking pup!
After some looking: "Thuja occidentalis 'Techny': A pyramidal shaped arborvitae with excellent green color year round - virtually no color change / bronzing at all. Techny has also shown very good cold hardiness - good choice for cooler climates. Delicate, fernlike foliage makes Techny a wonderful choice for screens & hedge applications. Often preferred over Emerald Green Arborvitae for its better color retention, and foliage density when mature. Foliage density starts out much more "open" than Emerald Green, but thickens tremendously with age, providing good screening. Has been an extremely popular selection in northern gardens, and is slowly being used in many other areas as well. Originally discovered in Mission Gardens, Techny , Illinois."
It would have a tendency toward airiness as a young plant, but you could trump that tendency by regular pinching.
You can keep any conifer very small and compact with regular (annual/semi-annual) pinching with very little effort. The key to long term health is going to be found in learning how to maintain the root system, if you don't already know.
Mmhmm. Pinching evergreens helps you manage their energy flow. All parts of the plant won't have the same amount of energy allocated to them. For instance, the conical plants will be very apically dominant and might have 2/3 of their energy directed toward the upper 1/3 of the plant. That's how they grow tall and narrow. When it comes time to limit the plant's ht, 2/3 of your pinching attention will be concentrated in the upper 1/3 of the tree so you don't lose control of the plant.
The key though, is being able to keep the plant happy over the long term so you HAVE something to pinch. ;-)
BTW - pinching doesn't necessarily have to be done with your fingers. Pinching is a form of pruning, and all it means is you are removing apices (growing points on branches) to either curtail elongation of the branches or force back-budding behind where you pinch. It's how growers who produce evergreens for Christmas trees maintain fullness & a nice conical shape.