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Living Christmas Trees

Living Christmas Trees

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Larry A. Sagers Regional Horticulturist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office All Rights Reserved

This season is reasonably mild and appears to be a good season to consider a living Christmas tree.

A growing number of households are opting for a living Christmas tree that the can plant outdoors after Christmas. Live Christmas trees are appealing because with care they can be added to the home landscape after use as a Christmas tree. It is almost a two for one special.

Base the selection of the tree on more than shape and color. You are going to use the tree inside for a few days but it will be in your landscape for many years. Living trees can be balled and burlap (B&B), container grown or potted.

Before selecting a living Christmas tree, make certain it is the right tree for the landscape. Many neglect this very important step. They make the mistake of buying a tree that will eventually get very large such as a blue spruce and then plant it in the only unfrozen soil in the landscape, right next to the foundation of the house. The tree quickly outgrows its site and is quickly discarded.

Small trees are usually a better choice than large trees because they are easier to handle and move and because you have a higher probability that the tree will have sufficient root system to support it after planting.

Pay attention to the root portion of the plant and make certain the pot or ball matches the size of the tree. B&B stock should have a solid ball and potted stock should not be root bound or too small to support the top portion of the tree.

Living Christmas trees are sensitive to warm, dry conditions. Because the weather outside has been cool the trees are in a dormant state. After bringing them indoors, they quickly start to reacclimatize. The warm temperatures cause the dormant tree to break buds and start to grow. For that reason, it is best to keep the trees indoors for less than seven days. Avoid keeping them in the home for longer than ten days even under the best of circumstances.

Living Christmas trees also need water. Before moving the tree inside, moisten the root ball. Keep it moist but not wet while it is inside the home. It is important that the tree is placed in a leak-proof tub or saucer to prevent soil and water from staining the floor.

Decorate with care and avoid heat producing lights, flocking or artificial snow. Use cool lights and only burn them for a short time to avoid excessive drying on the tree. Be careful to avoid causing damage to the tree with heavy ornaments or decorations.

Some cities and other non-profit organizations accept donations of living trees if you decide not to use it in your own garden. Otherwise, share it with a friend or neighbor and leave a living tree for future generation to enjoy.

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