Monday, November 1, 2010

Living Christmas Trees

Although it may seem early to be talking about Christmas Trees ~ and trust me, I am just as disgusted as you that the stores had Christmas merchandise up before Halloween ~ Now is the time to prepare if you are going to have a live tree.

It has become increasingly popular to have a live tree at Christmas over the last several years.  I don't know if it is because of the Green Movement, or what...  There are some definite advantages:

  1. They are less of a fire hazard.  (This one is big for me - I always stress that our house is going to burn down while we sleep - call me crazy!)
  2. They can be planted out into your landscape offering long-term enjoyment.  (and a house for the little birds and squirrels)
  3. A more aromatic fragrance.
Of course, I'm comparing to cut trees, not plastic or fake trees - that's another issue altogether.

There are some disadvantages however that you need to be aware of:
  1. The potted tree can only be kept in your home for about 7-10 days.  So, those of you who put it up on the first day of December are going to have a very dead tree by Christmas.
  2. Lights can burn the needles, so you need to be careful and use low-voltage lights.  Most of them are now anyway, but just so you know - You can't use grandpas big 'ol red, yellow and blue lights.
  3. And, maybe most important, They are very heavy and difficult to move around.
Now you know the ups and downs you can decide for yourself.  So back where I started.  If you have decided to have a live tree this Christmas you need to prepare now.

After you take the decorations off the tree - the day after Christmas (remember, 7-10 days) - you need to move the tree into a cool place like a garage or basement and let it acclimate a little before taking it directly outdoors.  Of course I am talking to those of us who live in areas that get snowfall and freezing weather.  After it has been in the garage for a couple of days you can move it out and plant it. 

This is where the preparation comes in.

Have you ever tried to dig a hole in frozen ground?  Not an easy task.  You need to dig you hole now.  Big enough to hold the root ball, just as deep as the tree is in the pot.  Scratch up the sides of the hole - maybe dig it a little square instead of round so the roots will push their way out.

And, where do you put the soil that came out of the hole?  If you leave it by the hole it will be frozen - again, not going to work.  Put it in a wheelbarrow or on a tarp in the garage so you will be able to plant the tree.

Remember to give it some water, and you will enjoy the tree for years to come - without breaking a shovel or hopefully your back.

Thanks to a Garden Walk Garden Talk for reminding me to tell you to put some kind of saucer or tarp under your tree - there are drainage holes in the bottom of nursery pots and you could ruin your floor!

Get your hands dirty!


  1. No live trees available for us here in the tropics that I know of. The cut trees are a no-no, not earth friendly plus they fare even worse, I think. Last only until mid-December. My wife and I are still trying to figure out what to do this year.

  2. Excellent advice. I work at a tree farm at Christmas for my friend the tree grower. He sells many hundreds of trees at Christmas, cut and fresh. Your advice is spot on, especially about digging the hole and acclimating. People leave the trees in the house too long, and often do not follow the advice because an evergreen tree may not look dead in the house after many weeks, but it probably is and they do not recognize its demise until it starts losing needles, but that happens anyway, so that too is often overlooked. You might want to mention to that the heavy potted tree needs to have a really big saucer underneath because the fiber pots or plastic/rubber pots with huge drainage holes they are often planted in are going to stain floors and carpets if not protected.

  3. Thanks for the great advice, I wouldn't have thought to dig the hole now.

  4. Very good advice! It would be nice to be able to have one.


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