Before you buy a live Christmas Tree, think about
planting location, careful selection and indoor care
Once you've imagined your future mature Christmas tree, do you have enough space in your yard? Most Christmas tree varieties need full sun. All trees grow stronger and more fully with adequate space all around the tree. Ideally this means no trees or houses or other structures within about 20 feet on all sides. Yes, a 40 foot diameter circle if to limit crowding on your property and to have a gorgeous tree in 10, 20 and 30 years.
Also, any tree is better off with no foot, bike or car traffic near it. A new, young tree can adapt to driveways and sidewalks, but stay well away from these structures so you are not frustrated with your tree crowding you, your cars, your gutters, your porch.
Are there any power lines, phone lines, or other utility lines above? Stay a minimum of twenty feet away. How about below? If you have buried utilities, you will want to avoid planting your lovely new tree on a utility easement because it will be subject to removal if utility work must be done! You can call your local Miss Utility to have your lines marked. Also avoid your own irrigation and in-ground lighting lines.
Is it a moist or dry location? Most evergreens prefer an acidic, gravelly, or sandy loam or a dry clay. Match the trees requirements to the locations you are considering. Ask the staff at the plant nursery for more information if necessary.
Do you want to have it in a location where you can enjoy it from your window, when it is covered in the first flurries of snow in the following years? Perhaps you will decorate with lights, or hang cranberries and popcorn from it’s boughs. With only one tree, you can start a new family tradition.
How to choose the healthiest tree
Choosing a live Christmas tree—there are a few basic rules to follow:
Find a high quality plant with a single central leader (stem).
Inspect the tree closely for broken branches, dry needles, insects on the plant or in the soil.
Look at the trunk for any damage. If a string or wire or other material has been choking the stem can it be removed with no additional scarring or indentations.
If you see any of these problems, move to the next tree.
Lastly, look at the branching structure—does it please you? Most people will spend the most time on this aspect, naturally. Are there enough low branches for the look you like? Is it full? Overall shape?
Remember trees are all unique, just like members of a family. Some stray branches can be pruned when you get it in the house, but limit yourself to 2 or 3 cuts so growth hormones are not stimulated. Pruning for shape can be done in the upcoming years once the tree has become established.
Timing for bringing your tree indoors
& Indoor care
When you get your live Christmas tree home, plan on gradually introducing it to your indoor environment to limit the chance of breaking the plant’s dormancy. Putting it in a cold garage or enclosed porch for a few days is necessary.
If you don’t have this type of location, then you’ll have to take it right into your home for a few hours, then back outside. Increase the amount of time it stays in. You may want to purchase an anti-transpirant spray, such as Wilt-Pruf, which I have used to spray on the needles to limit the drying effects of a normal house during winter.
The less time for the Christmas tree in the home, the better! I recommend no more than four days. If you are really serious about having your tree survive after the holidays, you could even have your festivities include bringing it in on Christmas Eve and decorating it. Remember that you are shocking the tree with spring like conditions, which will starting the tree’s growing hormones, and then you are going to return it to the cold winter. Minimize this confusion by limiting the tree’s indoor time.
Care in the home:
Spray needles with an anti-wilt spray
Choose a location away from heat sources
If balled & burlaped, put it in a tub that you would get for apple bobbing; Put dirt, gravel or sand in the tub, and perhaps some rocks, to stabilize the tree in the perfect position.
If container grown, find an additional container to allow for easy watering
If you put electric lights on tree, you will not be able to mist the needles. Buy OUTDOOR lights if you want to mist.
Make sure the soil and/or the root ball is moist to the touch
Mist the tree several times a day to keep it moist. Make it part of the holiday rituals.
Limit indoor time—we recommend 4 days. Two days is better. One is great. And a few hours will really be easy on the tree!
Don’t fertilize the tree at all. You don’t want to promote any growth in the warmer indoor clime.
Gradually take it outside. Reverse the method you used when you brought it home.
Now learn how to
plant your new tree.
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