Most of us want to be environmentally friendly and reduce waste,
so choosing a live Christmas tree that can be planted after the
holidays seems smarter than the disposable kind. Caring for
a live tree is not always so smart, however, because of the work
involved and the possibility that the tree won't survive after
all. Nevertheless, enough hard-core gardeners persist in buying
and planting live trees during the holidays that author Lindsay
Bond Totten provides these tips to improve their chances.
First of all, one week is the maximum for keeping a live tree
indoors. Otherwise, the buds may start to swell and your
specimen probably won't survive until spring. Don't bring the
tree indoors until a few days before Christmas.
Next, consider the obvious. Namely, that the ground might be so
frozen it will be impossible to dig a hole for your tree. Better
dig the hole now and cover the backfill soil with a tarp.
Assuming you're determined to go through with the experience,
make sure you purchase a tree that was freshly dug in late fall,
not a leftover tree from the spring that has been languishing in
the nursery all summer. Also consider the growth potential of
the species you're purchasing. You'll need enough space.
Choose a location that the tree won't outgrow as it matures.
Place the root ball in a large tub, start watering and continue
to keep the rootball moist but not saturated after it comes
Consider that your home is a super-heated environment with
minimal light--not exactly ideal conditions for a tree.
Accordingly, pick a spot that's cool and brightly lit to display
your living specimen. Avoid heating vents or space heaters.
Turn the thermostat down as low as you can stand at night. These
precautions will help keep the needles moist. Mist the needles,
but not after you trim with Christmas lights--you don't want to
cause a short circuit!
Plant promptly after Christmas so your tree won't have to shiver
in cold weather and freeze its rootball.
If fresh evergreen trimmings are all you need, here's a more
practical solution: buy a high-quality evergreen tree from your
local nursery next spring and plant when the soil and
temperatures are more hospitable. Gently prune and trim the
branches before next Christmas and deck the halls.