In our dry country, the hardiest living Christmas tree you can get is going to be a native one. You can keep all the trees below in pots for years, or plant them out in the garden after Christmas.
New South Wales Christmas bush
The New South Wales Christmas bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) looks stunning at Christmas. The red 'flowers' could have been designed to be Christmas decorations!
Actually, Christmas bush's brilliant red 'flowers' are really the ripening calyces, which hold the seeds. The real flowers arrive in Spring and are small and white, not red.
The wild bushes look stunning from a distance - but close up they're a bit raggedy looking. Luckily there is now a new cultivar called 'Albery's Red', with a much tidier form. It looks stunning with simple silver tinsel winding in and out among the red calyces.
How to care for Christmas bush
Christmas bush grows well either in pots or well-drained, sandy garden soil. (Stick to potted Christmas bush if you have heavy clay soil). The full-sized ones grow between three and six metres in height. They're not suitable for areas with heavy frost, but our potted one survived a freezing winter on a warm sunny terrace.
If you're bringing your potted bush inside for Christmas, place it in the most well-lit spot you have, by a nice sunny window, and take it outside as soon as the Christmas season is over or the poor thing will start to lose its leaves.
Give it a trim in February, to keep it looking neat, and scatter on blood and bone too. Water well in late winter and spring, to ensure a good Christmas display.
Victorian Christmas bush
Th Victorian Christmas bush (Prostanthera lasianthos) is quite different from the New South Wales Christmas bush, with lovely minty smelling leaves and masses of white tubular flowers lightly spotted with lavender. It needs rich moist soil and a cool climate.
Another common cultivar to be found in nurseries has pretty pink flowers and there is another one with variegated leaves. Victorian Christmas bush will grow in a large pot, if you want to keep one specially for Christmas. Keep it in a well-lit spot when you bring it indoors and take it out again as soon as you can.