Selecting and Caring for your Live Christmas Tree
'Tis the Season for...Conifers!
This year, instead of bringing home a cut Christmas tree that was cut weeks ago and kept in cold storage or putting up one of those “trees in a box”, consider getting a live Christmas tree.
It’s easy to understand the charm of a live Christmas tree; one that can be planted outside after the holidays and go on to brighten your garden for years to come. Here are a few tips that will help you pick the best live tree for your home, and keep it alive and healthy until you plant it after the holidays.
Let’s start with a few basic conifer facts:
- Most conifers don’t actually stop growing. Some may grow very slowly (less than 6”/year); others can grow much quicker (over a foot a year). When you see the mature size of a conifer listed, that size is just a snapshot of the size the plant will be in 10 to 20 years.
Unless otherwise noted, most conifers prefer at least 5 to 6 hours of sun per day. Most can take full sun
Conifers generally prefer soil with a neutral to slightly acidic pH; most prefer well-drained soils
When planting your conifer, if it is wrapped in a burlap ball, cut the twine that holds the ball together but don’t loosen the burlap (that can damage the roots) – the roots can grow through the burlap, and the burlap will eventually disintegrate
Remember to plant the crown slightly above the level of the surrounding soil (link to planting guide)
Caring for your live Christmas tree:
If you are bringing your tree into the house, be sure to keep it away from fireplaces and heat vents
Minimize the time your live Christmas tree spends indoors. Ideally, your tree won’t spend more than 3 or 4 weeks inside.
The best way to keep your live Christmas tree watered is to place ice cubes in the pot. They’ll melt slowly and the plant will soak up the water gradually – and you won’t be left with big messy puddles on the floor!
When you’re transitioning your tree from your house to the outdoors, do it gradually. Remember: your house is a good 30 to 40 degrees warmer than your yard at this time of year! Once the holidays are over, move your tree into a sheltered place outside – maybe on an unheated porch or under a sheltered overhand. While your trees will be happier in the ground, you don’t need to plant them right away - as long as you keep your tree from drying out.
For more information on some of the varieties of dwarf and compact conifers we have in stock, check out this Plant of the Week post!