Caring For Your Live Christmas Tree
Having a real evergreen tree for the holidays allows you to enjoy it both indoors and outside for many years to come. You’ll need to plan ahead so that the tree can be planted soon after the holidays. Here are a few things you can do to maintain your live Christmas tree in a healthy and happy manner.
Before the earth freezes, prepare the planting hole.
Late October or early November is the best time to dig the planting hole. It should be at least twice as broad as the root ball (or nursery pot) of the tree you’ll bring indoors for Christmas and the same depth. To keep the soil from freezing, set it on one side of a huge tarp, spread the tarp to cover the dirt, and cover it with a thick coating of shredded leaves or hay. (If you live in a cold environment, put the dirt in a wheelbarrow and keep it somewhere that won’t freeze.)
Then, to avoid snow and ice from accumulating, surround the planting pit with bundles of leaves or hay. For safety, you may need to cover the hole with planks, depending on the region.
Live Christmas trees can be kept indoors for a few days only.
If the evergreen is kept inside for too long, it will lose its dormancy and will be unlikely to live. (If you want an interior tree you can enjoy for a few weeks, go for a fresh-cut one.) Keep your live tree in a safe location outside, such as a porch or garage. Keep the root ball hydrated by watering it. Place it inside an unheated garage or porch a week before you plant it to help it acclimate to being indoors. Keep the tree well watered by placing it in a large container. To keep the needles from losing too much moisture, sprinkle the tree with an anti-desiccant. Take the tree indoors as quickly as possible, preferably a few days before Christmas. Evergreen trees should not be kept indoors for longer than seven days at a time.
The importance of a cool indoor temperature and plenty of watering cannot be overstated.
The temperature in the room should be kept as low as feasible (65 degrees F or less). Keep it hydrated ! The root ball must be kept moist consistently, but not in a puddle of water. Keep the tree out of direct sunlight and away from major heat sources.
Get that tree in the ground as soon as possible!
Return the tree to the outside as soon as possible, preferably on a warm day. If the environment isn’t cooperating, keep it in the same unheated location until the weather warms up. Put it in the hole you dug in the autumn, with the root ball’s top slightly higher than ground level. Loosen the burlap around the root ball’s top and move it back a little. Start removing the tree from the pot and set it in the hole for potted trees. Replace the soil mixture you set aside in the fall midway around the root ball and hydrate it thoroughly. Add the remaining soil and tamp it down firmly. After that, mulch the ground around the tree. If it’s a lovely day, you can re-spray the tree with anti-desiccant.
What if you didn’t make any preparations in the fall?
If you can’t find a hole for your tree, leave it outside where it will be shielded from the sun and wind. Surround the root ball with a thick layer of hay or bark mulch. The idea is to keep the root ball from freezing, just like it does when it’s planted. On warm days, water the root ball. When spring comes, the tree can be relocated to its ultimate site.