The Christmas tree is up and decorated, filling the house with fresh fragrance, but its already turning dry and dropping needles everywhere. After all, a tree begins to die the moment its cut down. Many people have turned to plastic trees for convenience, but they can seem so ... plastic.
The Christmas tree is up and decorated, filling the house with fresh fragrance, but it’s already turning dry and dropping needles everywhere. After all, a tree begins to die the moment it’s cut down. Many people have turned to plastic trees for convenience, but they can seem so ... plastic.
What about a living Christmas tree? It can still come indoors and play its part in the festivities, but once the decorations come off, the tree goes back outside and becomes a permanent part of the landscape.
Inquire at your local garden centre about the various trees available and find out how tall you can expect them to grow. You don’t want to end up with a 60-foot giant if you have a small city garden. If you don’t have a garden, perhaps a friend, or even your local parks board, would appreciate a new tree at the end of the holiday season.
Hauling It Home
A living tree comes with its root ball bound in burlap, making it quite heavy. It’s important not to lift the tree by its trunk, as it could break. Lift it carefully by the root ball, or roll it gently along the ground. Allow time for the tree to become conditioned to inside temperatures by placing it upright in an unheated garage or shed for a few days before bringing it in. Moisten the root ball until it’s damp but not soggy, and place it in a waterproof container. Covering the root ball with bark mulch will help keep it moist.
Once inside, the tree should be placed in a cool location away from direct sunlight and any heat sources, such as wood stoves, fireplaces, or heating vents. If put in a warm spot, the tree could break dormancy and start to send out new growth, which is undesirable in the middle of winter–the tender tips would freeze when exposed to outdoor temperatures. Check the root ball frequently to make sure it doesn’t dry out.
Trimming the Tree
Traditional Christmas lights get warm and could damage the needles, but the cooler LED lights work well. Fake snow or coloured paints will definitely harm the tree and should not be used.
A living tree should be kept inside for a maximum of 10 days, after which it will need a few days in the garage or shed before going back to outdoor temperatures. If it cannot be planted right away, place it in a sheltered spot and cover the root ball with plenty of mulch, such as dried leaves, straw, or sawdust, until planting time.
When you’ve decided on the right place for your tree, dig a hole the depth of the root ball and about twice its diameter. Remove any fibre or peat pots from the roots, but leave the burlap on. Plant the tree, filling the hole with soil and watering it well. Mulch around the tree, but stop a few inches from the trunk.
Now, instead of dying, your Christmas tree will continue to grow, a pleasant reminder of this year’s holiday season.