Building Tabletop Christmas Trees from Boxwood

You may remember back in July I was proclaiming my love for boxwood. Well, here’s another  reason why you should be sure to have one or two of these wonderful shrubs around your yard. Boxwood is the perfect material to make tabletop Christmas trees like this one, just right for out of the way places and small spaces in need of a bit of holiday cheer.


Tabletop boxwood trees are very easy to build, look terrific, and make a fun family project. Best of all, they are ecologically sensitive: nothing need be cut down to make this decoration.

Here’s how you get started. boxtreestep1aYou’ll need:

• Five pieces of Oasis foam (available at most florist shops and garden centers)

•Several long thin bamboo stakes. (Chopsticks work just fine).

• Some sort of waterproof basin. (I use a deep pot saucer; the slight protrusions help hold the Oasis in place.)

• A pair of sharp shears or florist scissors

boxtreestep2 copy• A razor knife or cooking knife to shape the Oasis

• Several pounds of boxwood clippings. (While you can buy box at most florist suppliers, it’s very expensive. ($60 a carton is not uncommon.)  For this reason, I deliberately leave several large box in the garden untrimmed until early December. If you don’t have any bushes of your own, see if you can offer some “free light winter pruning” to a friend – with the caveat that you’re sure to be careful not to remove too much from any one spot. Also: Northern and Southern gardeners take note: almost any small leaved or needled evergreen can be used in lieu of boxwood in areas where box doesn’t grow.)

Assembly couldn’t be simpler. Soak the Oasis for one hour in water, until it is thoroughly wet. (You generally need to weight it down in a bucket with something heavy as it is quite buoyant.) Once completely soaked, position the Oasis blocks as seen at the left, and secure with the bamboo stakes. Cut the corners off the top piece of Oasis to form a point. Then, starting from the bottom, begin positioning the longer pieces of boxwood around the base, being sure to turn the tree as you go to achieve a well rounded effect. boxtreestep3 copyOnce the base is complete, start to work your way up the column, inserting progressively shorter pieces until you reach the top. (This is another reason to harvest your own box – the florist version is generally cut to a standard length, and the branches are often too short to provide a full appearance at the tree’s base.) The final product should stand about 3′ tall. When you’re finished, decorate to your heart’s content. For a truly spectacular effect, you can do what my dear friend Barbara Bergman Reese used to do for her annual Christmas party in Weston: in lieu of (or in addition to) regular Christmas ornaments, use long-stemmed roses.

Once completed (the whole process takes about an hour) your little boxwood tree will stay fresh and green for several weeks, as long as you remember to keep the Oasis column thoroughly wet. Be sure to water from the top down (taking the tree to the sink and using the spray hose works well). Add water until there is accumulation in the basin. That way the upper portions won’t dry prematurely.



Building Tabletop Christmas Trees from Boxwood — 12 Comments

  1. An improtant tip. Better not to weigh down oasis when it is in water. That will result in dry spots within the brick. Just lay it lightly on the surface of the water. As it soaks in water, air will escape throught the (dry) top and it will begin to sink. When it is fully saturated, it will sink to the bottom, but if you force it, it will not absorb water all the way through.

    Happy Holidays!

  2. Now that’s interesting, because I’ve done it both ways, and had decent luck. I’m guessing though it will take longer if you allow the pieces to float and eventually sink; perhaps overnight.

  3. Possibly. Truth be told boxwood works the best, because it lasts the longest. (You can actually root new bushes from cuttings just like these.) Other evergreens will have varying life indoors. Another one of my favorite species is yew, especially the taxus baccata types. Yew makes a wonderfully dark green tree, great for hanging ornaments.

  4. No, the block of oasis will fully saturate and sink to the bottom very quickly. I never allow my oasis to soak very long. Place it on the top of the water in an adequately deep container and it will sink to the bottom within a minute. Once it does so, it is fully soaked. Never, never weight or push it into the water.

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  6. Our volunteer group will be making 30 boxwood trees next week to sell to raise money for a local hospital.

    Thanks for all the tips

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  8. I was delighted to find this on Google…I have not made boxwood trees for some time but had agreed to a small workshop to make them for a church fundraising event. Thank you. Very helpful

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