A living tree for Christmas is a great way to preserve special holiday memories and add to your landscaping. White pines, Norway spruce, and Colorado blue spruce all make excellent live Christmas trees. With a little special handling, your tree can be planted after the holidays and will thrive for years in the yard.
While the tree is outdoors, keep the root ball moist and shaded. Water thoroughly twice a week.
Live trees should be kept indoors for no longer than a week to ten days. If they stay inside longer, they suffer adversely when taken outdoors in the cold. The survival rate for trees kept indoors longer than ten days drops off dramatically.
When the tree is brought indoors, place the root ball in a large garbage bag and/or a water-tight container. This will protect the floor from dampness and allow you to keep the root ball moist. Check the ball daily for water. Keep it just moist to the touch. Do not allow the ball to stand in water. A great way to easily water the tree slowly enough that the water soaks into the ball is to put ice cubes on the ball. The water is able to soak into the ball instead of running off the outside. Keep the tree away from heat sources and from drafts. Use cool-burning mini-lights to decorate your tree.
After the holidays, take your tree outside promptly. Keep the tree in a cool, well-ventilated place for 5-7 days to help it slowly acclimate to the colder conditions.
Dig the planting hole twice as wide but no deeper than the size of the root ball. Some people choose to dig the hole early in anticipation of frozen soil. In this case, you may fill the hole with leaves, pine needles, or mulch. and cover the backfill soil to help keep it from freezing.
Leave the burlap and any wire basket on the root ball. Set the ball in the hole with the top of the ball level with, or even slightly higher than, the surrounding soil. Cut any string from the root ball and trunk. This can strangle the tree as it grows. Pull the burlap back away from the trunk and tuck it in the bottom of the hole. Replace half of the soil around the ball and pack it lightly to firm it. Finish backfilling the hole and water the tree thoroughly. Mulch the base with pine bark, hardwood mulch, or pine needles. Monitor moisture levels in the soil through the winter and the growing season.
Remember, this tree is a living investment in the landscape value of your home. Due to their high quality, most of our trees will survive with proper care (90% in past years). Many of our customers plant a live tree every year with no problems. Carefully follow these instructions for initial care and planting and you can expect years of enjoyment from your tree.