Pine cones are prevalent throughout the winter months and you can find many pine cones lying on the ground, either in your own yard or when you are out walking on trails, depending upon which state you live in. Once a pine cone has fallen from the tree, its botanical life is usually over. However, there are several natural ways that you can use these pine cones around your home for practical purposes.
Pines Cones in Their Natural State
Pines cones are more correctly identified in the botanical world as conifer cones. There are several types of conifer cones but the species of pine cones which you are probably most familiar with are those pine cones that fall from trees such as pine, spruce and fir; these trees are members of the Pinaceae plant family.
Pinaceae plant family members produce both male and female pine cones on the same plant. Male pine cones only live a few weeks and are small and insignificant, when compared in size to the female pine cones (although they have an important role to play in the continuation of Pinaceae plant family members). Female pine cones can live several years and usually fall to the ground when they have expanded and dropped their seeds after fertilization (source).
Pine Cones as a Natural Aromatherapy Diffuser
One of the easiest ways in which you can use pine cones around your home is as a natural “aromatherapy diffuser.” Once you have collected your pine cones, display a couple of them on a table, book case or shelf. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and, once the pine cones have been naturally heated up in your warm home, you will smell the aroma of your oil wafting around the room. You might need to continue to add the essential oil to the cones to increase the aroma. One of the best places to display your pine cones for this purpose is on the mantle of a fire place, or close by to it. Try essential oils such as cinnamon, pine or orange.
Using Pine Cones for Seasonal Decorations
You can incorporate pine cones into all sorts of seasonal decorations. The Holidays are a popular time to decorate your home with decorations such as Holiday wreaths (into which you can incorporate pine cones) but you can also use pine cones post-Christmas to brighten up your home. Display them naturally in a bowl on your table or in a winter floral display, in which you can use evergreen trees such as fir and juniper berry too. If you have children, a great crafting project for them to do is to get them to decorate your pine cones with glitter or paint, to add a bit of color and sparkle to an otherwise bleak January winter table!
Using Pine Cones to Make a Bird Feeder
The first months of the New Year are sometimes the coldest and hardest months for winter wildlife. Many people put out food for wild birds in bird feeders but you can also use pine cones to make your own natural bird feeder! Simply collect together a couple of larger pine cones (that are fully opened out) and cover them in peanut butter with a knife; the peanut butter allows you to roll the pine cone in bird food and makes it stick to the cone. Before you cover your pine cone in peanut butter, you might want to tie the top with a piece of string or ribbon, so that you can hang the pine cone in a nearby tree. You can also use another “sticky” substance, such as vegetable shortening, lard or suet, if you prefer not to use peanut butter; the “sticky” substance is simply to help the bird seed stick to the cone.
Pine Cones in Winter Homes
Pine cones are adaptable and versatile in their uses, once they have served their purpose in the botanical world. They can add aroma and color to your winter home – and provide a natural bird feeding habitat in your yard or garden. Next time you see some pine cones lying on the ground, gather a few together and put them to use in your home!
Photo by Noel C. Hankamer