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How to care for a christmas tree

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Instead of buying a cut tree that gets used once, choosing a potted or burlap-bagged living Christmas tree can yield years of enjoyment.

For those celebrating Christmas, a live tree can be a beautiful home accessory while serving as a decorating centerpiece for the holiday season. However, considering how short-lived a cut tree is, a more sustainable choice might be to buy a living tree that can either be used year after year, or that can be planted in the yard to supply shade and wildlife habitat, and act as a living windbreak for decades to come.

Research and Plan Ahead

Although most cut Christmas trees come from a tree farm, where they are grown specifically to be cut down for the holiday season, some families have a tradition of searching out and cutting their own tree on public lands or private property, but either way, once the tree is cut, its days are numbered. Supplying the bottom of the cut tree with fresh water can help slow down the dying process and keep the needles from drying out and dropping off so fast, but with no root system attached, the tree is essentially living on borrowed time after it’s cut. And while there are plenty of uses for cut Christmas trees after the season is over, such as being turned into fish habitat or yard and garden mulch, a living Christmas tree that gets planted in the yard will continue to grow and provide vital ecosystem services and financial benefits for years and years.If you’re considering buying a living Christmas tree this year, be sure to look for varieties that are well-suited to your local climate, as well as ones that will do well in the specific soil type and level of sun exposure where it will eventually be planted. Even the hardiest and healthiest of trees can struggle to grow when planted in areas that are too shady, too wet, or too warm for them, so picking an appropriate variety is essential to success. And unless you have a large property and can choose from a variety of planting sites, it can be helpful to decide where you’ll plant the tree before you actually buy one, as some locations may not be a good match for certain varieties of tree.

Plant or Potted

A potted Christmas tree can be kept in its pot and moved outside to live after the holidays, and then brought inside each year for the festivities, but will require a fair bit more care than one that gets planted outside. A potted tree will dry out faster than one in the soil, so regular watering is a necessity, as is periodic re-potting to a larger container to allow for growth, and the fact that the roots are sitting in a pot above ground rather than in the ground may mean that additional protection is required in cold climates.

No matter if you plan to keep your living Christmas tree in a pot year-round, or you’re going to eventually plant it in your yard, you’ll want to allow your new tree to acclimate slowly from outside temperatures to indoor ones, with the general recommendation being to place the tree in an unheated but sheltered location, such as a garage, for a week or two before bringing it into the house. During this time, the roots of the tree should remain damp but not soaking, so periodic watering may be necessary. Ask the tree nursery for their guidance on specific instructions for the variety you choose.

When picking the location for the tree in the home, try to choose a place that isn’t directly exposed to warm air from heaters or vents, or selectively close nearby dampers to avoid large temperature swings in that room. A cooler location is better than a warm one, and one with plenty of natural light is preferred. Remember that a living Christmas tree is much heavier than a cut tree, and that although some people may be able to afford, display, and plant a rather large tree, buying a smaller one allows for more choices of location in the home, and makes it a lot easier to move around and eventually plant outdoors.

Taking Care of the Tree

Water the living tree regularly (some recommend watering it a little bit every day), and be prepared for dampness or water overflow under the pot by either placing a large saucer underneath it or by wrapping it in plastic. To water the tree slowly so that the soil can absorb it, use ice cubes. Depending on the size of the pot, anywhere from one to three trays of ice cubes can be placed on the surface of the soil, where they will melt and gradually water the tree. Covering the soil with mulch can also help keep it from drying out as quickly.

Decorate a living Christmas tree gently, and take care not to hang heavy ornaments on branches that may get damaged because of the weight. While the older incandescent Christmas lights put out too much heat to string on a living tree, many of today’s cooler LED strands can be used to light the tree, but be sure to plug them in and check the operating temperature before stringing them up.

The general guidelines on keeping a living Christmas tree indoors is to limit it to a week to ten days maximum, after which the tree should be moved back to an unheated yet sheltered transition location for at least a few days. If the ground is frozen, the tree can be moved to an outside location that is sheltered from direct winds until planted permanently. If the ground isn’t frozen, the tree can be planted outdoors as per the specific planting instructions for that variety, and the soil should be well-mulched as protection from the cold and to conserve moisture. For keeping a potted Christmas tree year-round, move it to a more permanent location with plenty of sun after the transition, where it can also benefit from a heavy mulch.

If you don’t own your yard, or don’t have a location suitable for planting a living Christmas tree, you can still buy and enjoy one during the holidays if your friends, family, or community organization has a place to plant it afterward and will accept your donation. And if you’re not tied to the idea of getting a more traditional conifer as your living Christmas tree, there are other varieties of trees that could be used as such, and that can live year-round indoors, such as the Norfolk Pine, or you can just decorate a pineapple and call it a day.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Caring for a live Christmas tree doesn’t have to be a stressful event. With proper care, you can enjoy a festive-looking tree throughout the Christmas season. Let’s look at how to keep a Christmas tree alive through the holidays.

How to Keep a Christmas Tree Alive

Keeping a Christmas tree alive and healthy throughout the holiday season is easier than one might think. It takes no more effort in caring for a live Christmas tree than it does a vase of cut flowers.

The most important aspect of live Christmas tree care is water. This is true for both cut trees and living (root ball intact) Christmas trees. Water will not only keep the tree alive but will also prevent safety issues associated with drying out. Location is another important consideration. Where the tree is placed in the home determines its longevity.

Cut Christmas Tree Care

Fresh cut trees will last longer by practicing a few simple guidelines. First, you should acclimate the tree before bringing it directly into your home. Going from one extreme to another, such as a cold outdoor environment to the heated indoors, can cause stress on the tree, resulting in dryness and the premature loss of needles. Therefore, it’s better to set the tree in an unheated area, like the garage or basement, for about a day or two before bringing it inside.

Next, you should recut the tree about an inch or so above the base. This will help the Christmas tree absorb water more readily.

Finally, make certain the Christmas tree is placed in a suitable stand with plenty of water. Depending on the size, species, and location of your Christmas tree, it may require up to a gallon or more of water within the first few days in the home.

Live Christmas Tree Safety

Whether caring for a live cut tree or a living one, preventing dryness is key to live Christmas tree safety. Therefore, it’s important to keep the tree watered thoroughly and check water levels daily. A well-watered Christmas tree doesn’t pose any fire risks. Additionally, the tree shouldn’t be located near any heat sources (fireplace, heater, stove, etc.), which will cause drying.

It is also a good idea to keep the tree located where it is less likely to be knocked over, such as in a corner or other seldom travelled area. Make sure all the lights and electrical cords are in suitable working condition as well and remember to turn them off when going to bed at night or leaving for long periods.

Living Christmas Tree Care

Small living Christmas trees are generally kept in a container with soil and treated much like a potted plant. They can be replanted outdoors in spring. The larger living Christmas trees, however, are generally placed in a Christmas tree stand or other suitable container. The root ball should be moistened well and kept this way, watering as needed. The most important consideration with living trees is their length of stay within the home. These trees should never be kept indoors for more than ten days.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree
Decorating, enjoying, and then planting a living Christmas tree can be a wonderful “green” holiday tradition. Living Christmas trees require a little extra attention to acclimate them indoors and plant them afterwards, but the rewards are well worth it.

In addition to the environmental benefits, living trees are safer than cut ones. They pose less of a fire hazard, and the heavy container makes them difficult to knock over – a plus if you have kids or pets!

Choosing a Live Tree

Living Christmas trees include spruce, cedar, sequoia, fir, cypress, and pine. You can find dwarf varieties that will stay small, or ones that grow up to 70’ tall. If you have trouble finding living trees for sale, visit a choose-and-cut lot and ask if you can dig one instead.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree
Douglas Fir is popular, with soft needles and plenty of branches for ornaments.

Once you’ve decided on a variety, it’s time to pick out a healthy tree. Keep in mind these tips:

    Determine the mature size and shape of the tree, how fast it grows, and any special care information related to your climate.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree
This Italian Stone Pine (center) will grow to 70’ tall!

Bringing a Tree Indoors

The biggest concern with living Christmas trees is preserving the tree’s winter dormancy. Sudden exposure to warmth, or prolonged time inside, can cause the tree to start growing, which can be fatal if the tree is then returned to the cold outdoors. To ensure a smooth transition:

    Acclimate your tree to warmer temperatures by storing it in an unheated (but not freezing) garage or enclosed porch for 3-4 days before bringing it inside.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree
Blue Spruce has a lovely color, and it’s firm branches hold ornaments well.

RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR

How to Protect Your Garden from Freezing Temperatures

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2 COMMENTS

Check the tree at the nursery or side of the road vendor BEFORE you buy it. You want to be sure there is a nice trunk flare; imagine a really old oak tree (or any other). The base should not look like a telephone pole going into the ground, but rather have an increase in diameter, then you should see where the trunk turns into roots. You may have to dig in the soil a little to find the trunk flare; don’t be afraid to do so… it does not hurt the plants. Once you find the trunk flare, be sure there are no roots circling the trunk; if there are some small ones, they can be cut at the time of planting, but large ones are, well, just too large to cut. If you cannot find a satisfory trunk flare, do not buy it. The roots that wrap around the trunk are termed girdling roots – this is akin to leaving a collar on a puppy, then as the pup grows into a dog, the collar will choke it; girdling roots choke the tree and will cause all sorts of problems resulting in a slow, painful death.

CHRIS FRANCIS
* ISA Certified Arborist
* Alabama State Licensed:
– Tree Surgeon
– Landscape Designer
– Landscape Contractor
– Pest Control Supervisor

(enjoy your show.). I noticed our Black Hills Spruce Christmas tree is producing new growth :). I wish it had roots! :(. Happy New Year!

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How to Care for a Christmas Tree

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

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Here’s how to keep your Christmas tree fresh plus 10 ideas on how to recycle that tree after the holidays from mold-free mulch to

Buying the Christmas Tree

  • If possible, buy a freshly-cut tree from a reputable nursery or cut your own (with the land owner’s permission). Many of the trees for sale were cut weeks before.
    • Freshly-cut Christmas trees are farmed specifically for their purpose and support local agriculture.
  • If you’re buying a tree that can be replanted later, keep in mind that a very small percentage of these trees survive after being indoors in the winter. To give them the best chance of survival:
    • Leave in house a MINIMUM of five days.
    • Give them 2 to 3 days to adjust by letting them sit (in water) in a garage or “in-between” transitional spot before and after they are in the home.
  • The top-selling Christmas trees, as reported by growers across the United States, are the Scotch pine, Douglas fir, white pine, and balsam fir, in that order.
  • If there are lots of needles on the ground around the trees, go elsewhere.
  • To check a tree’s freshness, pull your hand towards you along the branch. Needles should not fall off.
  • If you want to keep your Christmas tree potted and in the house after Christmas, a Norfolk Island pine would be the best choice—they are commonly kept as houseplants. Check with a local florist or nursery in your area.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Caring for Your Christmas Tree

  • When you bring your tree home, saw a couple inches off the bottom of the trunk before setting in water. When trees are cut, pitch oozes out and seals the pores. By sawing off the base, you will open up the pores, and the tree will be able to absorb water.
  • Watering is critical. A freshly-cut tree can consume a gallon of water in 24 hours!
    • Fill the tree stand with water and keep it filled.
    • Never let the water level go below the tree’s base.
  • Indoors, keep the tree away from heating ducts or other heat sources. In fact, the lower the temperature, the better the tree will do.
  • One old Vermonter we knew always packed his tree stand with well-watered soil and planted the tree in the mixture. The soil should be kept wet.
  • Some people add aspirin, Sprite, or sugar to the water; we can’t say whether these actually help. Again, water is the vital element.
  • See more advice for keeping your Christmas tree fresh.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

10 Ways to Recyle a Real Christmas Tree

Live biodegradble Christmas trees can be turned into mulch. Most cities have recycling events or even curbside pickup during the weeks after Christmas. All you do is donate the tree and they’ll shred it down to natural mulch to take home and use in your garden. Check with your city government on tree pickup or dropoff.

Besides curbside pick up, there are many DIY ways to recyle a tree.

  1. Use the branches and pine needles as mulch in the garden to provide your garden with insulation and moisture throughout the winter (you can even add on top of snow). Break off the needles, cut the branches into small, 1 or 2-inch pieces, and use as mulch.
  2. Or, you can entire limbs to cover your garden beds, which reduces frost heaves by insulating sensitive plants, such as roses. Use boughs from your tree to shade broad-leaved evergreen shrubs, insulate perennials, or protect against frost and snow.
  3. Your tree can also make an excellent base for your compost pile. For the best results, don’t include the needles, which can slow down the disintegration process. Instead, use the needles for mulch. Then, cut the branches into small pieces so that they turn into compost faster.
  4. Saw the trunk into several pieces, after trimming off the branches. This will make an aromatic Yule fire in your fireplace next Christmas Eve. Bundle up the branches as firewood, too. Note: The wood must have time to dry. Do not throw the live branches into your indoor fireplace as it will cause sparks and is a fire hazard.
  5. Prop up your old tree near your bird feeder as a staging area for small birds, such as chickadees and finches.
  6. Or, create a living bird feeder. String your tree with fresh orange slices, popcorn, cranberries, homemade suet, and other bird-friendly goodies, and put it in a sheltered location. Eventually (within a year) the branches will become brittle and you can break the tree apart by hand or chip it in a chipper.
  7. Who doesn’t love the scent of pine trees? Pluck out the pine needles and either add to a bowl of potpourri for a natural air freshener or use as stuffing for small fragrance pillows. Sew scraps of fabric together and fill them with the needles to make fragrant balsam sachets to freshen drawers and closets.
  8. Another use for your pine needles is to make them into tea. It’s as easy as steeping pine needles in boiling water, and then straining it into cups to drink.
  9. If you’re creative, use the trunk and branches to make cool wood coasters, candleholders or other crafty items.
  10. Some Fish and Game Department use recycled Christmas Trees to make fish-friendly habitats. Some lake bottoms are void of the natural structures that fish like to hide in. You can also sink old trees in their pond, where they make cozy areas for fish and tadpoles to live, sleep, lay eggs, and find food.

Another reader says, “In Louisiana, we use old trees to bait fishing holes with. Just anchor them in a good location and the fish will use it for cover, especially bream and white perch. Go back in the spring and usually the fish will be in it or near it.”

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Replanting a Live Tree

Sometimes we’re asked about replanting a live tree. First, you can only replant trees that came with a living root ball (that hasn’t been cut or damaged). Second, the tree can’t be dried out; most Christmas trees will only last a week (at the most) indoors in heated home. But if you kept the tree in a cool area or near a window, it could be worth a try.

With those caveats in mind, you’ll want to plant immediately after Christmas. If you’re in a cold climate and the ground isn’t prime for planting, mulch the tree and set it aside in a cold, sheltered area until the temperature warms up. In the meantime, water the tree every few weeks.

Learn More

Where did the tradition of Christmas trees come from? Read about the origins of popular Christmas traditions here!

Everything you need to know about pot-grown Christmas trees.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Question: What’s the best way to care for a potted Christmas tree both during the festive season and beyond?

Answer: Essentially, a potted Christmas tree will have been grown for at least a year in its container and so really what you’re buying is a temporary houseplant. When buying one, find out if your potted Christmas tree is actually container-grown or has been recently dug up and potted, as there is often confusion between the two.

To put it simply, the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) secretary, Harry Brightwell, explains to us: ‘A container-grown tree has been grown in the pot. A potted tree may be container-grown, but is often dug from the plantation and replanted in a pot prior to sale.’

With container-grown trees, roots are developed in the container, so is said to be stronger and more healthy (as it hasn’t been dug up). ‘It is often possible to lift the whole root system out of the pot and see the closely woven root that has grown in the pot,’ BCTGA told Horticulture Week.

Here’s some key advice to follow for potted Christmas trees:

• You should bring your potted tree indoors as late as possible, advises the RHS. The weekend before Christmas is ideal, and it’s advised not to keep living trees in the house any longer than 12 days.

• As with most houseplants, it’s the watering that’s the thing. Too much and your potted tree will die of ‘trench foot’, too little and the leaves will turn brown and fall. Always check that the container has good drainage and some sort of saucer underneath to catch any excess water.

• Avoid placing your tree close to a fire or radiator – this will cause excessive moisture loss and needle drop.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

• It’s best to check the soil every day to make sure it’s not drying out; even small trees will have an awful lot of roots and if you knock the container off you’ll see just how full of roots and how little soil there is in there.

• That is the main downside of container trees, the roots of all trees are pretty ferocious and the taller the tree the more roots are needed to keep the water supply going. So to work in containers, these trees tend to be pretty small, around 3-5 feet. Anything larger just isn’t going to be happy in a pot and is going to be very difficult to manoeuvre.

• And that’s the issue about planting it in the garden and bringing it in again next year. Planting out will probably be fine, put it in a sunny spot and it’ll grow well and put on a season of growth both in its branches and its roots. Once a tree gets to about six feet the roots needed to sustain it are going to be more spread than can be put into a container. If you have to chop off a lot of the roots to bring it indoors next year it may also be unstable once planted back out, so it might be a good idea to stake it in place firmly.

• Once planted in the garden, it’s important to place your potted Christmas tree in the right spot. Put fir trees in a sheltered spot as they like cool, moist conditions, and think about its position during hot summers, as it shouldn’t be in direct sunlight. Also, ensure it’s well watered during dry spells.

• One way to slow the growth during the year (of both the top and the roots) would be to keep it in its container but it will need an awful lot of looking after especially through the summer to stop it drying out.

So, depending on the height of the tree, you may be able to plant it in the garden and then bring it in for one more season but it’s unlikely to be feasible after that.

From: House Beautiful magazine (with thanks to gardening expert Caroline Tilston).

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Your perfect Christmas tree is only perfect if it lasts through the season! With these tips, you will be able to choose a tree that is fresh as well as learn how to keep it beautiful throughout the holidays. Be sure to also check out the recycling ideas at the end of this post.How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Head out to a local tree farm and cut your own for the freshest tree. If you buy your tree from a lot, then there is a simple test to help you decide if it is fresh enough to take home! The last thing you want is for all of the needles to drop as soon as you hang your decorations.

Christmas Tree Freshness Test

Test tree freshness by holding a branch tip firmly between your thumb and forefinger; with the opposite hand pinch the branch slightly higher and slide your fingers up the branch against the grain. The needles should not come off the branch. (As a side note, this is the easy way to remove leaves from woody herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme.)

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Now that you know it’s fresh, make sure that you choose a tree that is right for your space with the help of this guide: How to Choose the Right Fresh Christmas Tree for Your Family.

Indoor Christmas Tree Care

Keep your tree fresh by cutting a 1-2 inch thick slice off the base of the trunk an hour or less before placing it in water. You may not have a saw handy, so ask if they can cut it at the tree lot before you take it home. Get the tree in water right away and you will be good to go for the season.

Display your fresh Christmas tree in a location out of direct sunlight and away from heat vents. Do not let the reservoir in the tree stand dry out. All of these things dry out the tree more rapidly and speed it’s demise.

Living Tree Care

An increasingly popular choice for Christmas trees is to purchase a potted, living tree. If you decide to get a living Christmas tree this year, plan on keeping it in the house no more than a few days. The dry warm air may be lovely for you, but it takes a toll on an evergreen.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Once you have celebrated with your tree, it’s time to set it back outside. You don’t need to plant it right away, which is good because in some areas that might be hard with frozen soil! But even setting it back into its natural environment should be done with caution. It is important that the tree be re-acclimatized to outdoor conditions gradually when returning outdoors. Place it in an unheated, sheltered location a day or so for the transition. After that, water it well and take it back outside. If the ground is not frozen, plant it. If the ground is frozen, protect the root ball by insulating it in a pile of moistened mulch or straw until the thaw.

With these tips, your fresh tree will look gorgeous for the holidays and provide your family with plenty of enjoyment. What should you do after Christmas? Look up your local tree recycling programs. Some have roadside pickup, while others have central drop-off locations. I know of at least one city who has a great program where you can take your tree to a goat farm and stay to watch the goats chow down. They go after the trees like crazy, and they will eat all the needles and branches right down to the trunk!

Or you can always get a bit crafty! Why not make a few of these fun projects with your recycled Christmas tree?

This post on how to Care for your Fresh Christmas Tree is sponsored by MiracleGro. All opinions, work, hair-brained ideas, and knocked over Christmas Trees are 100% mine.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

I keep a calendar with a list of my upcoming projects. On that calendar, I map out days that I need to do certain things in order to get the projects done and posted by their deadline. Most of the time I do a pretty good job chugging along working through my list. I take things in order and try my very best to avoid a last-minute deadline rush.

I knew that this article was coming up and was really really excited about writing it. My oldest daughter was home for Thanksgiving break and I was really looking forward to going as a family to pick out a fresh Christmas tree this year. My husband was soooo over figuring out the giant puzzle of our plastic Christmas tree and the kids were dying to go to a Christmas tree lot and pick out a tree. I think mostly because they thought the lot would be an awesome place to take selfies.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

We scouted out a good lot near our house, picked our tree, tied it to the car, brought it home, set it up and decorated it.

The Story of the Fallen Christmas Tree:

I set aside Last Wednesday to photograph said Christmas tree. I set up the camera, then went to run a few errands and came home and found this.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Seriously not okay and totally messing up my plan for the day. Also, our living room was a total disaster, it was a long weekend.. don’t judge…

The dog was hiding in my bedroom. I called her to come to me and she would not get within 10 steps of the Christmas tree.

The guilty look on her face, won’t go near the tree, hiding in my bedroom… Yeah… culprit found.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

She did eventually come into the room and seemed all to proud of her handy work.

I couldn’t get the tree back up by myself and had to wait until my husband got home to fix it. By then one side of the tree was bent in and the star on top, well it will never be the same again I’m afraid!

Soooo… my plans for photographing a beautiful Christmas tree in soft morning light were pretty much shot and a scene more likely to come from Christmas Vacation replaced it.

Honestly, it really doesn’t bother me all that much that one side of the tree is smashed in. We all got a pretty good laugh out of it and the leaning real Christmas tree seems to fit our family a bit more than a perfectly decorated one.

Let me tell you what we’ve learned from this.

How to Set up a Christmas Tree; Tips & Tricks:

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

One: Buy a Wide and Sturdy Base for your Christmas Tree

Buy a quality Christmas tree stand with a wide base. Ours was plastic, big mistake. The wider the base the less likely the tree is to be knocked over. I had a reader (I shared the photo on Instagram) suggest tethering the tree to the wall with fishing line if you have a lot of animals that you’re worried about messing with the tree.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Tips specific for Fresh Christmas Trees:

One: Get the Lot to Trim the Trunk

When you buy the tree ask the lot if they will cut at least 1/2″ off the bottom of the trunk. The sap seals the base and makes it so the tree won’t take up water. If they don’t do this you’ll need to make sure you do it yourself at home.

Two: Check for Brown Spots on the Tree

When buying your tree run your hands over the branches. Do they feel dried out? Do a lot of needles fall off? If so, the tree might already be too old and you may want to pick out another one. Also, watch out for brown spots or needles.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Three: Use Miracle-Gro for Christmas Trees

One capful of Miracle-Gro for Christmas Trees per quart of water will help reduce needle drop. Click here to watch a video explaining how it works. One small bottle will be plenty to last you the entire Holiday season. You can buy it at Lowe’s, Home Depot, Amazon, True Value, Do-it-Best, & Ace Hardware Stores.

Four: Water!

Your Christmas Tree will require the most amount of water in the first two weeks that you have in your home. Make sure you check daily that it has enough water. Make sure the bottom 2″ of the tree is always immersed in water.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

It seems like we aren’t the only ones to have a funny Christmas Tree story. My sister-in-law said once her cat jumped off the 2 story railing and landed right on top of the Christmas tree that was at least 5 feet away. The tree stood up fine and the cat wasn’t hurt, but she did say that after that the cat stayed away from the tree.

Do you guys have any funny stories to share?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Miracle-Gro. The opinions and text are all mine.

Brush up on your holiday horticulture before you bring a live tree home.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

The holidays are on the horizon, and with them comes the endless stream of tree decorating tips. The tradition of trimming a tree dates back to 18th-century Germany, and these days, it’s obviously a household staple across the U.S. Whether you’re a fan of vintage decorations, handmade ornaments, or tinsel strewn everywhere, the options for decorating your Christmas tree are endless. But perhaps even more important than the decorations is the tree itself. What type of evergreen is best for your household? Which will look best with the rest of your decor? For those of us who prefer real living Christmas trees to artificial trees (around 17 million American households do, according to the American Christmas Tree Association), a Douglas or Balsam fir is a common selection during a trip to the Christmas tree farm.

But have you ever considered a potted Christmas tree? They’re a smaller, more sustainable alternative to cut trees, but often require a little extra love and care to make sure they stay healthy and happy all the way through December 25. These trees require a bit of a green thumb, so it’s no small undertaking if you want to truly make it last. In between all the holiday baking, turkey roasting, and gift-giving merriment, take a minute to improve your knowledge of potted Christmas trees and the care they require.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Potted Christmas trees are often viewed as a more sustainable option for Christmas decorating, because you’re ideally able to plant the tree after the season is over, rather than simply tossing it to the curb. In fact, tree rental services are available to provide you with a live tree for a set period of time, and then take care of the post-holiday planting in order to reuse the tree next year. (If you’re planning to replant it yourself, be sure to select a potted tree that’s indigenous to your region to give it the best chance to thrive!)

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Two important things to note before you head to the nursery: Potted trees are significantly heavier than cut trees (think 150 pounds for a five-foot tree!) so choose your size wisely. If you’re in charge of moving the tree yourself, this might be a good reason to stay on the smaller side.

Second, potted trees must be transported somewhat upright, as they’re more delicate because they’re alive. It’s best to prop the tree up in your trunk, with the top of the tree coming out of the back hatch of your car.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Potted trees can only spend a relatively short amount of time indoors (think: 7 to 10 days) until they begin to adjust to the interior temps and lose the hardiness needed to brave the elements once replanted. With potted trees, rather than buying it right after Thanksgiving, your best bet is to wait until Christmas is nearly here so that you can enjoy it for a week or so and then get to replanting.

Another tip: If possible, set up your potted Christmas tree in a room that stays cooler than other rooms in the house. Fewer powerful sun rays beaming through the windows can help keep the temperature down and prevent the tree from fully adjusting to a climate that’s too warm.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Overwatering can be absolutely detrimental to a potted Christmas tree. It’s best to keep a few things in mind, like ensuring the container (at least the plastic liner or “first layer” of the planter) has an effective drainage outlet to allow excess water to trickle out. Check the soil of your tree every day—if it looks dry, water the tree. (The bigger the tree, the more roots are packed into the soil, and the more thirsty the soil will appear.) Don’t overwater, however tempting it may be!

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Your best bet is to contact your local nursery or a local tree farm. They should be able to provide details about the types of living Christmas trees they have available, as well as sizing, so you’re not blindsided when you arrive to collect it.

Things You’ll Need

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

They are the centerpiece on holiday party tables, with their foil-wrapped pots and dinky decorations. They cram the shelves in the floral section of the supermarket. Miniature potted Christmas trees are everywhere during the holidays. Generally 18 to 24 inches in height, these pint-sized conifers suffer the brutal fate of being tossed in the garbage by folks that don’t realize some are easily planted in the garden to grow into big, beautiful Christmas trees. In maturity, they require little care if given lots of attention while young, and in the pot.

Step 1

Wait until the plant has acclimated to your home to repot. Many of these Christmas trees are rootbound and need fresh, new soil so transplant it into the next size pot and quality potting soil three to four weeks after bringing it home.

Step 2

Keep the miniature Christmas tree away from drafts and radiators or other heat sources that may dry the foliage. Dessication is the No. 1 killer of these small trees.

Step 3

Place the miniature potted Christmas tree in a cool area of the house. Although the floral industry markets several types of trees — from rosemary to Italian stone pine — most require cool temperatures. Guard against sudden changes in temperature.

Step 4

Keep the soil slightly moist, unless the tree is rosemary. In that case, allow the soil to almost dry completely before watering. Remove the foil wrapping around the pot when watering or immediately after. The wrapping holds the water that drains from the pot. This may be sucked up by the tree’s roots and cause root rot.

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Picking a Christmas tree is all fun and games — but once you bring it home, it’s important to take good care of it!

If you get your tree from a lot, John Colaneri of HGTV’s “The Cousins” suggests shaking it before bringing it into your home, which helps to get rid of loose, dead needles.

“If you go to a tree farm, they shake it for you,” John explains. “But if you’re getting it from a lot, make sure that you’re shaking it.”

In fact, “The Great Christmas Light Fight” judge Carter Oosterhouse says that’s a good way to ensure that you’re not dragging critters into your home, either! And if the thought of spraying your tree with bug spray crossed your mind, DON’T, Carter says!

“That would be dangerous, because it is flammable,” he explains.

As for the vital task of watering your tree, be sure that you have a tree stand with enough water-holding capacity. As a general rule, stands should provide one quart of water per inch of tree stem diameter — and water temperature doesn’t matter!

“Make sure you turn your lights off if you can when you’re going out of the room,” Carter says, “and at the same time, keep your temperature low around the house and that will help to not dry your tree out.”

Carter walks through his rule of thumb for watering your Christmas tree in the video below:

HGTV’s Carter Oosterhouse Shares His Tips for Watering a Real Christmas Tree

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Skip the Christmas tree lot this weekend and head to your local nursery for the ultimate eco-friendly tree. For first-time success with a.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Pictured: Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis ‘Vanderwolf’s Pyramid’) | Photographed by Tom Story

Skip the Christmas tree lot this weekend and head to your local nursery for the ultimate eco-friendly tree. For first-time success with a container conifer, follow our tips for keeping your living tree healthy through Christmas Eve and for years to come.

Whether or not you’re keen on going green, getting a potted Christmas tree can make a lot of sense. You only need to purchase a tree once and you’ll be set with a tree to bring in for the holidays for years. Plus, once the fella gets too big, you have a great addition to your garden that can bring back memories of Christmases past.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Pictured: Bosnian Pine (Pinus heldreichii leucodermis) | Photographed by Tom Story

Caring for a living tree is relatively easy but there are a few factors you should consider.

Plan ahead

Pick a tree that will thrive in your area. To get started, look up your climate zone and see which conifers grow best there. Once you’ve picked a tree and brought it home, leave it in a sheltered area such as under a covered porch or a larger tree canopy to help the tree adjust to a change in environment. Hose the tree down once and shake off any loose needles before bringing it indoors.

Avoid disturbing the roots

Leave the tree in the container you purchased it in for the first few months. You don’t want to combine transplanting shock with taking the tree indoors. If the container isn’t all that pretty, drop it into a larger glazed ceramic pot or metal bucket for the holidays. If you pick one without a drainage hole, the container can also catch excess water.

Limit time indoors

Living trees are happiest with cool temperatures and bright, outdoor light. Bring your tree indoors for no longer than 10 day stretches and choose a sunny spot away from any heat vents. You can also place your tree outside your doorstep for a few days to give it a break from the heat and limited light indoors.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Pictured (from left): Korean fir, Dwarf Alberta spruce, Dwarf blue subalpine fir | Photographed by Tom Story

Water regularly

Potted trees indoors will dry out more quickly than those in your garden. Water daily and top-dress the soil with some mulch or reindeer moss (pictured above) to help prevent water loss through evaporation. One easy way to water your tree is to empty several trays of ice cubes on top of the soil. The ice will melt slowly so that roots can absorb the water before it puddles.

Take it outside

After the holidays, take your tree outside and place it, once again, in a sheltered location. Water it well, soaking the root ball. After a week, move the tree in it’s container to a sunny spot in your garden where it can live for the rest of the year. When you see signs of new growth in spring, give the tree a dose of fertilizer according to the box instructions.

When to repot

If you’ve had your tree for multiple seasons or you start seeing signs of distress (yellowing needles, stunted growth, or sparsely-needled branches), it’s time to repot your tree in a larger container. For particularly root bound trees, you may want to cut 2-3 inches off the bottom and sides of the rootball using pruning shears or an old knife. When repotting, mix in a handful of controlled-release organic fertilizer with your potting soil to promote new growth.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Pictured: Colorado blue spruce (Picea pugnens ‘Baby Blue’) | Photographed by Tom Story

How long is too long

If you’ve had your living tree for years, at some point the tree will grow too large to be easily moved indoors. Trees over 6 feet tall with heavy root balls are close to the cut-off line. At this point, plant your tree out in the garden where it will get plenty of sun. If you don’t have room for a conifer, check with your city for tree donation programs to public parks.

For more tips about choosing and caring for a living Christmas tree, check out the full article in our December issue of Sunset.

Nothing says Christmas more than picking out a tree!

You may have winter houseplants around your home to help with the nostalgia for gardening, but nothing beats the attention and care a real Christmas tree needs. It is sure to bring the holiday cheer no matter what situation you’re in. Don’t get any of those fake trees either; artificial trees cause more pollution than you’d think.

Is getting a real Christmas tree is wasteful if you can’t make it last for the whole holiday season? YOU CAN MAKE IT LAST! By following certain Christmas tree care tips, all listed here for you, that tree can bring joy and happiness to your home even past Christmas Day.

1. Choose a Cleared-Out Location for the Tree

The location of the tree in your home will determine how long it lasts. It is very important to keep your tree in areas away from heat sources. It should be away from your fireplace or heater placements.

A heat source too close to your tree can dry it out at a much faster rate. In some cases, exposing the tree to high temperatures will make it burn. This isn’t as uncommon as you may think, an average of 170 home fires occur each year due to Christmas trees.

It pays to be careful and take extra precautions where you can. Your home’s corners are the safest places since they are away from heat sources and decrease the likelihood of the tree getting knocked around.

If you need to decorate your trees with lights, place it near an electric outlet. You might need an extension cord if that isn’t possible.

2. Place Floor Covers on the Tree’s Location

The best-case scenario is to use a real sewn tree skirt to cover the floor. But if you want to save on money, you can use Christmas-themed papers instead since it helps protect your floor from water while maintaining a festive atmosphere.

3. Put the Tree in Water ASAP

Once you buy your Christmas tree, it’s important to put it in water as soon as you get home. You need to do this within 8 hours or it might be too late. Saw off an inch or two of the tree’s bottom if it isn’t a fresh cut.

Use a tree stand filled with fresh water and let the tree rest there. An alternative before you set up the stand is to use a bucket of water. Make sure to place the tree in a cool place or it might dry out faster.

4. Use the Right Stand

Taking care of Christmas tree means having the right stand for it. It should fit the trunk’s diameter in a comfortable manner. It is better to adjust the stand to fit the tree than vice versa. Whittling down the trunk makes it easier for the tree to dry out.

It is recommended to give a quart of water per inch of the diameter of the stem. That’s why it’s important to get a tree stand with a large water reserve. After all, real trees can take around a gallon of water within the first few hours.

5. Replenish the Tree’s Water Supply at Regular Rates

Depending on your tree size, it might need a lot of water to survive. Make sure to watch out for the waterline. Make sure that the cut part of the tree’s trunk stays well below it.

There are a lot of myths when it comes to extending water life. Don’t add chemicals in the water like aspirin or lemon soda since it does nothing to make the tree fresher for longer periods of time. It can pose as household dangers since it can sicken pets that drink from it.

Live trees tend to have more relaxed and open branches once they’re indoors. Make sure to allow space when choosing the tree’s location. This prevents its more open branches from getting in the way.

6. Check for Sap Leakage and Collect Fallen Pine Needles

It’s always important to check if tree sap leaks out from the tree on a regular basis. It might make a mess on nearby furniture or the floor covers. You can remove these leaks sooner if you discover them earlier.

Live Christmas trees will shed their pine needles through the course of their stay. It isn’t hard to remove fallen needles; all you need is a dustpan and a handheld vacuum. Don’t use larger ones since the needles can clog it up after long periods of use.

Make it a point to do this on a daily basis to ensure it doesn’t make a giant pile. The needles aren’t pleasing to the eyes. Also, it might pose some additional safety risks for your children or pets.

7. Avoid I-V Types of Water Supply and Antitranspirants

There are some devices that supply water to drilled holes into the tree trunk’s sides. While that might seem an attractive choice, it isn’t as effective as watering trees using the traditional stand. So, it’s better to stick to the water-holding tree stands to make your tree last longer.

Antitranspirants don’t help that much when you’re trying to prevent moisture loss. Most sellers say that it’s a miracle product that blocks evaporation from your tree surface. The truth is that they lose a lot of their potency when used on cut trees displayed within the confines of your home.

8. Monitor the Tree for Dryness

Look at the needles and feel whether they’re drying out or becoming brittle. If they break or fall off in your hand without effort, the tree is already dried off. That means you need to remove it from your house.

Learn About Real Christmas Tree Care Today!

A well-cared-for Christmas tree can remain fresh for at least three weeks before it dries out, that’s why it’s important to follow these real Christmas tree care tips to make the most out of your money.

Don’t let your Christmas celebration break your budget with trees drying out before the holiday season is over.

Do you need real trees and other plants for your holiday needs? Contact us today and we can help you. We look forward to communicating with you soon.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Palm trees have a distinctive tropical quality, but most of them become 60-foot (18 m.) tall or more monsters. These huge trees are not practical in the private landscape due to their size and the difficulty of maintenance. The Christmas tree palm poses none of these problems and comes with the characteristic silhouette of its bigger cousins. Growing Christmas palm trees in the home landscape is a perfect way to get that tropical feel without the hassle of the bigger specimens in the family. Let’s learn more about these palms.

What is a Christmas Palm?

The Christmas palm (Adonidia merrillii) forms a lovely smaller tropical tree suitable for home landscapes. What is a Christmas palm? The plant is also known as the Manila palm or dwarf Royal. It is native to the Philippines and useful in United States Department of Agriculture zone 10. The tree only gets 20 to 25 feet (6-8 m.) in height and is self-cleaning. Lucky warm season gardeners should know how to grow Christmas palm tree for diminutive tropical flair but easy maintenance.

The Christmas palm gets started growing with a bang, achieving 6 feet (2 m.) in height quite rapidly. Once the tree is established to its site, the growth rate slows down considerably. The smoothly ridged trunk can grow 5 to 6 inches (13-15 cm.) in diameter and the tree’s elegantly bowed crown may spread out to 8 feet (2 m.).

Christmas tree palms bear arching pinnate leaves that may approach 5 feet (1-1/2 m.) in length. One of the more interesting Christmas palm tree facts is why it came by its name. The plant bears bright red clusters of fruits that ripen just about the same time as the Advent season. Many gardeners consider the fruit a debris nuisance, but removing them before ripening usually solves any messy issues.

How to Grow a Christmas Palm Tree

Landscapers like to plant these trees quite close together because they have small root balls and will produce a natural looking grove. Be aware that growing Christmas palm trees too close can cause some of them to fail to thrive due to excess competition. Planting in too little light can also produce spindly trunks and sparse fronds.

If you want to try growing your own Christmas tree palm, collect seeds in late fall to early winter when they are ripe. Clean off the pulp and immerse the seed in a solution of 10% percent bleach and water.

Plant seeds shallowly in flats or small containers and place them in a location with temperatures of 70 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 37 C.). Keep the container moist. Germination in Christmas tree palm seeds happens fairly rapidly and you should see sprouts in just a few weeks.

Christmas Palm Tree Care

This tree prefers well-drained, slightly sandy soil in full sun, although it can tolerate light shade. The plants require supplemental water as they establish, but once mature, these trees can withstand short periods of drought. They are also quite tolerant of saline soils.

Fertilize every 4 months with a time release palm food. Because the plants are self-cleaning, you rarely have to do any pruning.

The palms are susceptible to Lethal Yellowing. This disease will eventually take the palm. There is a preventative inoculation that is administered before the plant contracts the disease. A few fungal diseases are also of concern; but for the most part, Christmas palm tree care is a piece of cake, which is why the plant is so popular in warm climates.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

The dwarf Alberta spruce is diminutive evergreen with a classic pyramidal Christmas tree shape. This spruce variety is related to some giant varieties that can grow 100 feet or taller but because dwarf Alberta spruce rarely exceeds about 13 feet, it is a popular choice for foundation plantings and as a specimen plant all over America. This dwarf version of the white spruce grows very slowly—growing just 2 to 4 inches per year, and it is generally grown as a large shrub or small specimen tree. The aromatic green needles are about 3/4 inch long, and the tree has a tight, densely-packed growth habit that gives dwarf Alberta spruce trees a “fuzzy” look. Unlike its larger cousins, the white spruces, dwarf Alberta spruce rarely produces pine cones.

  • Botanical name: Piceaglauca ‘Conica’
  • Common name: Dwarf Alberta spruce, dwarf white spruce
  • Plant type: Evergreen conifer tree
  • Mature size: 10 to 13 feet in height, 7 to 10 feet in spread
  • Sun exposure: Full sun; will tolerate some shade
  • Soil type: Moist, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 4.7 to 7.0
  • Bloom time: Non-flowering
  • Flower color: Non-flowering
  • Hardiness zones: 2 to 6
  • Native area: Native from Alaska across Canada and down into Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and New York. The dwarf version, ‘Conica,’ was discovered at Lake Laggan, Alberta, Canada, in 1904.

How to Grow Dwarf Alberta Spruce

The Dwarf Alberta spruce tree can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8, but it is temperamental further south than zone 6. This specimen is best suited for a climate with cold winters and cool summers. A Dwarf Alberta spruce tree grows best in full sun and well-drained acidic soil. It will tolerate some light shade but performs best in a spot with good air circulation, since its dense foliage can trap moisture.

If the soil is less than ideal, amend it by working compost or another organic material into the top 15 inches of soil before planting. The planting hole should be twice as wide as the tree’s container, and about 2 inches deeper. Water thoroughly after planting, and cover the ground around the tree with a thick layer of shredded bark mulch; keep the mulch a full 3 inches away from the trunk.

For the first year, water the tree weekly, saturating the soil to a depth of at least 3 inches.

Light

This tree performs best in full sun but will tolerate some shade.

Grow dwarf Alberta spruce in moist, well-drained soil. It does best in soil that is slightly acid to neutral in pH.

Water

Provide these trees with water when the top 3 inches of soil becomes dry. Container specimens will need more water than those planted in the landscape.

Temperature and Humidity

This tree requires good air circulation and does best in low-humidity environments. It performs best in areas with cold winters and cool summers.

Fertilizer

Young plants respond well to mixing in a granular fertilizer around the base of the tree once a year. Mature trees require no feeding.

Propagation

This tree can be propagated by 6-inch-long branch cuttings taken in late summer or early fall. Strip the needles from the lower two-thirds of the shoot, then plant them deep into sandy loam soil. Keep the soil moist until roots form, then transplant into a pots or a landscape location.

Pruning

Pruning is not necessary with dwarf Alberta spruce since it grows so slowly. Damaged branches should be removed whenever you find them. Pruning to shape them can be done in late winter or early spring when new growth starts to appear. Cut no more than 2 to 3 inches off the tips of the branches.

Landscape Uses

Dwarf Alberta spruce trees are used as specimens in landscape design. As one of the most recognizable shrub/tree types in North American landscaping, you’ll often see them used in pairs to flank the entryway to a house for a formal look that strives for balance. Because dwarf Alberta spruce trees will remain relatively small for a number of years, people sometimes treat them (at least initially) as container plants. They are sometimes trimmed into topiary forms when grown in containers.

However, be aware that these specimens will eventually outgrow a small space. It is best to avoid planting this tree in a spot that cannot comfortably accommodate what may eventually become a 10- to 13-foot tree.

Growing in Containers

This tree is often grown in a container to use as a living Christmas tree. It can be moved outdoors in the early spring but needs to be hardened off by gradually exposing it to cooler conditions.

Common Problems

Dwarf Alberta spruce trees are not very tolerant of air pollution and salt spray, and they struggle in areas with high heat and humidity. They require very little care but are often the victims of spider mite attacks that can kill the tree. A yearly preventative treatment with a pesticide may prevent this.

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A beautiful Christmas tree covered in decorations and lights is the centrepiece of our festive celebrations. We’ll help you decide which type of tree to buy.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Nordmann or Norway spruce?

Nordmanns and Norway spruces are the most commonly available Christmas trees, with Nordmanns the most commonly sold as they don’t drop their needles as readily as Norway spruces.

Nordmann

CHARACTERISTICS: Cone-shaped, with open, spiky branches and silvery bark. Long, glossy, dark green needles, with a white stripe on the underside.

PROS: Soft foliage and great needle retention have made this Britain’s most popular Christmas tree. Will stay fresh for a long time as long as it’s watered.

CONS: One of the more expensive trees.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Norway spruce

CHARACTERISTICS: Traditionally the most popular tree, but now overtaken by the Nordmann fir. Shorter, sharper needles that are a lighter green than those of the Nordmann fir.

PROS: One of the cheapest trees. Soft foliage – so kids won’t hurt their hands when decorating.

CONS: Prone to dropping its needles – you’ll need to water it regularly to prevent this.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Cut, containerised (potted) or container-grown trees?

You’ll find Christmas trees sold either as cut trees or ones in pots. There’s a crucial difference between the two kinds offered in pots that affects their longevity.

Cut Christmas trees

These are field-grown trees that are sawn off at ground level. Avoid any that are nailed to wooden stands as they’ll be harder to keep fresh. Many Norway spruces are trimmed during growth to improve the shape but are likely to cost more – look for ‘premium’ quality trees. When we trialled them, we put cut Nordmann and Norway trees into plastic stands with a good-sized water reservoir. The Nordmann started to look a little jaded and the Norway lost a few needles, but overall they looked fine after three weeks.

Verdict: If you just want an ornamental tree, this is the cheapest option. Treat it like a large cut flower and don’t forget to recycle it.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Container-grown Christmas trees

These are the most expensive option and have spent their lives in a pot. When we trialled them our two trees had been grown in small plastic pots and placed in a decorative pot; large roots growing through the bottom of the inner pot had been cut off. Both trees took up water and looked quite good at the end of the trial, although the Norway spruce had lost a few needles. Both would be worth keeping after Christmas. We also bought a smaller Norway spruce in a larger pot. Although this was the most expensive, it looked the best at the end of our trial.

Verdict: A good investment if you want to keep a tree in the garden for two or three years.

Containerised (potted) Christmas trees

When we trialled these, the containerised trees we found were labelled ‘potted’ and the label said ‘freshly lifted … with a few roots’. They had been dug up and potted, destroying most of their roots in the process. In our trial, these were the hardest to look after as they were rammed into their pots so tightly that watering was impossible, and they didn’t take up much water from the saucer. Both types dried out quickly, the Norway losing most of its needles. The Nordmann didn’t fare much better, looking dull and lifeless at the end of our trial.

Verdict: Avoid these trees. A cut tree is a better bet, or look for a container-grown tree.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

How to care for your Christmas tree

The secret of a long-lasting Christmas tree is to care for it properly as then it will be less quick to drop its needles.

Start a new family tradition by planting a living Christmas tree after the holidays.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Want to enjoy your Christmas tree for more than a few short weeks? In many parts of the country, living Christmas trees are available from nurseries and tree farms. These trees are sold in containers, or as balled and burlapped (B&B) trees, which means the root ball is wrapped in fabric. Typically, living trees are not that much more expensive than a live, cut tree. The best part: After bringing your tree inside and decorating it, you’ll be able to replant it after the holidays to enjoy for years and years in your garden.

But living trees do take a little TLC, so here’s what you need to know:

Pick a spot.

In most regions of the country, including cold climates, you can enjoy a living Christmas tree. First, find a good place in your yard where the tree will get plenty of sunlight and won’t crowd other plantings in a few years. Many species used for Christmas trees grow fast and become quite large, so ask the nursery about the type you’re considering.

Choose your tree.

Read the plant tag or ask the nursery to be sure your species will grow well in your USDA Hardiness zone (check your zone here). Trees are available in a variety of heights, and depending on its size, a B&B tree can weigh a couple hundred pounds; container trees usually weigh somewhat less. Regardless, you’ll need help moving it around, so enlist some friends and treat them to hot cocoa and cookies afterwards!

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Prepare your tree to come indoors.

Place tree in something like a large galvanized tub or deep pan so you can water and not damage your floor. Keep the root ball moist, not sopping wet. Your tree also needs a brief adjustment period before going into a heated house. Once you get your tree home, place it in an outdoor spot sheltered from the wind, such as an unheated barn, shed or garage. Give it a few days to get conditioned before moving indoors.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Keep it cool.

Your living trees should not be kept inside for more than 10 days, because the warm temperatures may cause it to break dormancy. That’s a bad thing, because it could be damaged or even die when you put it back outside into normal seasonal conditions. For the same reason, keep your tree away from heating vents, wood stoves or fireplaces. Also, LED lights are a better choice than old-school incandescent, which throw a lot of heat.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Plant your tree.

When it’s time to move your tree back outside, recondition it the same way you did before bringing it in by first placing in an unheated outdoor space for a few days. When planting, dig a hole about the depth of the root ball and about twice as wide in diameter; don’t bury it too deep, which is a common mistake. Place in the hole, cut off burlap and remove cords or wire around the root ball, backfill with the soil you removed (you don’t need to add anything else), water and mulch well to retain moisture and protect the roots. If the ground is frozen, hold it in a sheltered outdoor spot until spring, but check the moisture regularly, and water as needed.

We believe Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a real Christmas tree to enhance the Christmas ambiance in a home, with its fresh pine fragrance.

We currently sell all of our trees freshly cut and with the correct (recommended) care, they will live approximately 3-4 weeks – however our recommendation is two weeks before Christmas. All of our trees come tagged with professionally printed instructions on how to care for your tree, making it easy for you to ensure your tree lasts throughout the Festive Season!

The following steps will help you keep one of our real Christmas trees looking fresh throughout the Christmas season.

1. When collecting your cut Christmas tree from the farm or one of our stockists, make sure it is kept out of direct sunlight during transportation to your destination. We suggest placing your netted tree in the back of your car or if using a trailer or ute, please cover with a tarp, old blanket or sheet to keep your tree out of direct sunlight and heat which can severely burn your tree.
2. Refresh the tree by making a straight cut across the base, taking 2cm off the stump before you place it into a stand with water. This simple measure will better enable your real Christmas tree to absorb sufficient water to maintain its freshness.
3. Place the real Christmas tree into our Cinco Christmas tree stand that can hold at least 4 liters (small)-12 liters (large) of water as well as your tree. You should expect the tree to take up additional water each day for at least the first week. Water the new tree until water uptake stops.
4. If you do not wish to put your tree up immediately, store it in a cool place out of wind and sun in a bucket of water.
5. Check the water level daily. If the water drops below the trunk, the trunk may seal itself and not be able to absorb water and the stump will need to be cut again. Normal water is the best way to help keep your real Christmas tree fresh.
6. Place the tree away from direct sunlight, windows, air-conditioners and other heat sources as they will dry out your tree prematurely.
7. If properly cared for (using the first five steps) your real Christmas tree should last at least 3-4 weeks before drying out.
8. Please note that as it is impossible for us to know whether you have carefully followed these tree care tips, and therefore we are unable to refund or replace your Christmas tree if it does not last the full 3-4 weeks. We want your tree to still be looking great on Christmas Day – the later the tree is cut in the season, the better it will look on Christmas Day.

No Time?

This time of year is busy, but you NEED a real Christmas Tree, we get it!

Order your tree online and we will carefully choose one for you!

You can then either choose to collect from our farmgate or to one of two Cairns locations.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

I need some advice on purchasing and caring for a cut tree to decorate for Christmas this year.

— Jerry Johnson, Lake Forest

There will generally be a few different types of trees on a sales lot for you to choose from. Determine which species of tree you find most desirable from an aesthetic point of view, as color, form and texture vary widely among different trees.

Needle retention is also an important consideration when choosing a tree and varies tremendously between species. Firs such as Canaan, balsam, noble and concolor retain their needles the longest and make great cut trees. Their needles are rounded and softer to the touch. Some of the fir varieties will be more expensive than spruce or pine varieties.

When choosing a cut Christmas tree in the sales lot, select one with firm needles that don’t drop off when the tree is raised up a few inches and dropped to the ground. A small amount of needle drop is normal, though. The needles should be resilient; not brittle, and should adhere to the twigs.

Another way to check the freshness is to gently grasp a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward you. Very few needles will come off in your hand if the tree is fresh. Even fresh needles will be brittle when the temperature is very cold (below 10 degrees Fahrenheit), however.

The tree should have a fresh, pungent fragrance and a natural, waxy green appearance. The limbs should be full, bushy, symmetrical and strong enough to support your ornaments. It will be difficult to hang ornaments on trees that have been tightly sheared. The bottom of the stump should be moist with some sap present. Trees that were cut many weeks or even months earlier will drop their needles shortly after being brought indoors. I also avoid buying cut trees that have been “painted” green to improve their color.

Care of all cut Christmas trees is generally the same, regardless of the species. Selecting a fresh tree is most important, as a dry tree will not take up water and will quickly become a fire hazard. Store your tree in a bucket of water in a cool, 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, wind-free and sun-free area, such as an unheated garage, until you place it inside.

When it is time to bring the tree indoors, make a right angle cut, approximately 2 inches from the base of the trunk — it is OK to cut more, if you need to shorten the tree. Staff at the sales lot will often offer to make this cut for you, but too much time may pass before you get it installed in the tree stand with water. Ideally, you would install the cut tree in water in less than two hours after the base is cut. Diagonal cuts will make it more difficult to mount in a stand. Cutting your own tree at a Christmas tree farm and bringing the tree indoors as close to Christmas as practical will give you the optimum freshness and quality.

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Mount the tree in a stand that is big enough to provide firm support and hold a good amount of water. Add water to the stand immediately after placing the tree in it. Generally, water additives do not prolong the life of the tree. Check the water level at least a couple of times a day initially, and add fresh water as necessary. A large fresh tree may use 1 gallon of water or more in the first 24 hours. The cut end of the tree should be kept in water at all times. Never allow the water level to drop below the cut bottom of the trunk or a seal will form on the cut in four to six hours and prevent it from taking up water.

The tree will remain fire resistant as long as it keeps drawing water. Choose a location away from heat sources or open flames, such as fireplaces, radiators or furnace vents.

Tim Johnson is director of horticulture for the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.

Buy it now and don’t put it next to the fruit bowl (yes, really)

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Picking the perfect Christmas tree often marks the start of the festive season for many of us.

There’s something so wonderful about a real Christmas tree (the look, the smell) but how do you make sure your seasonal centrepiece stays fresh right through until the New Year?

Although generally easy to care for, there are some important things to bear in mind to keep your real tree looking its best this Christmas.

A real Christmas tree should be treated just like a bunch of flowers you would give to a loved one – all it needs is a bit of TLC. The three most important things to remember to ensure you have a happy tree are to cut the stump, keep the tree hydrated with plenty of water and make sure it doesn’t overheat by positioning it away from radiators.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Thankfully, we’ve got Kamalvir Dhillon, Category Manager at B&Q, to share his expert tips on how to choose and maintain your Christmas tree yet:

1. Make the perfect choice

“From cut to pot grown and Nordmann Fir to Norway Spruce, there is a brilliant variety of real Christmas trees to choose from. Whilst each variant has different characteristics, the most important thing to look out for when choosing the tree is a deep green, healthy-looking spruce with little to no brown needles. Try giving the tree a little test by running your hands through a few of the branches – if the needles don’t drop you’re on to a winner!

2. Positioning is everything

Kamalvir explains: “Christmas trees grow in cold climates so it’s important to keep your tree away from any heat sources such as radiators or fires. This is because heat will dry out the tree meaning it will lose its needles faster.

“A little known tip – it’s also key to keep your tree away from any fruit bowls in the home. Although they may be a staple during the festive period, fruit gives off ethylene gas which affects plants and trees, making needles drop quicker.

“It’s a common myth that it’s better to buy your tree closer to Christmas to ensure it stays fresh up to the big day, however my advice would be to buy early to get your pick of the bunch and leave outside or in a cold room. This way a tree bought on November 1st will look just as fresh as a tree cut November 29th come Christmas day!”

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

3. Hydration, hydration, hydration!

“Like all living creatures, Christmas trees get thirsty, which means they need plenty of water to thrive,” says Kavalmir. “Depending on its size, the average Christmas tree can drink up to one to two litres of water a day which means staying hydrated is extremely important to ensure your tree stays looking bright and bushy all season long.

“If your tree is pot-grown, make sure you water the root ball. And if it’s kept outside on a porch, balcony, or in a garden it might need even more water to avoid it drying out.”

So now you know. And, if you’re anything like Stacey Solomon, you’ll have no problem with choosing and putting up your Christmas tree now.

B&Q’s range of brilliant real Christmas trees are available now at stores nationwide.

Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Christmas cacti, also known as Schlumbergera, are easily one of the most identifiable houseplants. This native Brazilian plant has draping green branches that produce beautiful flowers that bloom for weeks at a time. While the most common bloom colors are red and white—other unique cultivars are purple, yellow and bright pink.

These plants are part of a group of plants that are traditionally called the “holiday plants.” Do you have a “Christmas” cactus that blooms around Thanksgiving or Easter? Most of the generic plants sold as “Christmas Cacti” are actually Thanksgiving or Easter cacti. To the untrained eye, all the holiday cacti look very similar. Christmas cacti have flat leaves with round “teeth,” while Thanksgiving cacti have pointed “teeth.” There’s another variety called Easter cacti that look almost identical to the Christmas cacti except the Easter cacti flowers open wide, while the blooms of other plants are more tubular like a Lipstick plant flower.

Christmas cacti are affordable, which makes them very giftable—particularly around the holiday season. You’ll find the usual varieties at grocery stores and florists alike, but if you take a side step and check out local nurseries that are known for carrying unique plants, you might get a happy surprise. There are many beautiful varieties like “Christmas Gold” that has a rose-colored center with golden leaves. There is also “Samba Brazil that has a cream center with orange edging.

They’re technically easy to take care of, but there is plenty of opportunity for error. The question of success is answered with an equal combination of water, temperature, and light.

Best Growing Conditions for Christmas Cactus

Light: Christmas cacti need bright, indirect light during the day to produce their beautiful blooms and to stay healthy. Trying placing your plant in a spot that gets eastern exposure. Without proper light, these plants will grow leggy and weak. On the other hand, too much light will burn your plant.

Most people don’t know that in order for flower buds to form, Christmas cacti need 8 hours of light and 16 hours of darkness every day. This is why it blooms around Christmas, as the daylight hours get shorter. It is said that even during the night, having a light on in the room where the cactus is will disrupt the cycle. Better safe than sorry—during the fall months try putting your cactus in a room that doesn’t get used at night.

Be sure to rotate the plant once a week to ensure balanced growth on all sides. To promote growth you can also fertilize bi-annually with a common 20:20:20 option from your local nursery.

Water: When the plant isn’t blooming, water only when the soil is dry to the touch, roughly once every seven days, depending on the light exposure and moisture level in your home. When the plant is flowering, make sure the soil is evenly damp (not soaking wet) at all times. Your plant will also benefit from a good misting every few days. Remember, Schlumbergera are not desert cacti, they are native to the rainforest and need to be treated as such. If your plant is looking wilted, you need to keep better track of your watering habits. Try setting a reminder in your phone.

Soil: Plant your Christmas cactus in well-draining soil and a pot that has a drainage hole in the bottom in order to prevent root rot and pests from making an appearance. Try using a sandy cactus mix or make your own by combining equal parts common potting soil and sand.

Temperature: Christmas cacti will not thrive without the appropriate temperature requirement being met. The ideal temperatures are 70-75F in the daytime and 60 degrees (as a minimum) at night. If your cactus is getting too cold, it will not produce blooms.

Troubleshooting for Christmas Cactus

Christmas cacti are some of the easiest house plants to care for. There are families that pass down plants from generation to generation as a sort of right of passage. Of course, there are folks that have absolutely no idea what to do if the plant gets buggy or that they can actually create an entirely new plant from a cutting.

Do I need to repot my Christmas cactus?

Yes. The best time to repot is after the plant is done blooming. Repot in a container that is 1-1.5” larger than the existing one. This process helps promote growth and a healthy root system. Remember to choose a container with drainage holes. If the roots sit in water for a long period of time, they will rot and kill your plant.

After you repot a cactus is the perfect time to give your plant a trim. An annual trim will encourage the branches of your cacti to grow stronger and longer. Simply cut (with a clean blade, scissors or pruners) along a notch. Keep the cutting to start a new plant—place the cutting in moist potting soil and monitor it as it grows roots.

My plant has bugs. What do I do?

If you notice bugs or a fungus on your plant, the first thing you should do is isolate it and check your other houseplants. Next, take a closer look at what has infested your Christmas cactus. They are most (like other house plants) susceptible to spider mites and fungus gnats.

Fungus gnats are the easiest of the pests to deal with. They look like little flies that buzz around the vicinity of your plant. They’re tiny and they lay their eggs in the top 1” of the soil—they also thrive in damp conditions and spread easily. The first course of action is to let the soil dry out completely to kill off the eggs. If that doesn’t work, try using insecticide (a type of bug-killing soap). If that still doesn’t work, repot your plant in totally new soil. Be sure to wash out the pot with soap if you’re going to reuse it.

Does your plant have some kind of white webbing on the undersides of the leaves and close to the soil? Odds are that Charlotte hasn’t built a web in your plant—you’ve got spider mites. Wipe down the leaves with insecticide or give it a bath to clean off the leaves. Let the plant dry out and try again. Spider mites put up quite the battle, so prepare yourself to keep watch until they’ve been eradicated.

I like the look of flocked Christmas trees, so I learned how to make my own!

Christmas is a special time of year—time slows down and we gravitate toward the warmth of our homes and the warmth of each other. We also decorate our houses outside and in and give and receive presents.

For most, the centerpiece of Christmas decor is the Christmas tree. Tall or short, wide or slim, decorated or not, if you celebrate this holiday, you probably have a Christmas tree.

In recent years, many new types of Christmas trees have come into style, and by different, I mean fake or artificial. The pre-lit, artificial tree has become one of the most popular trees in the last decade, and there are now aluminum trees, slim trees, and flocked trees available.

What Is Christmas Tree Flocking?

Christmas tree flocking is when artificial snow is applied to a tree. It can be applied to both normal Christmas trees and artificial Christmas trees. If applied correctly, it can look almost identical to real snow. Some trees come with flocking already applied. But, if you are feeling crafty, you can buy a can of flocking mixture and spray the tree yourself.

Flocking Your Christmas Tree

Some nurseries will custom flock your tree with special flocking mixtures. These services will usually only flock a certain part of a tree, such as the top or middle branches. Nursery flocking mixture, made of cellulose, is usually better than the store-bought flock.

One of the biggest reasons people choose to buy a flocked Christmas tree is because the flocking mixture seals the tree, keeping moisture in the branches. This keeps the tree alive longer, but the flocking process doesn’t completely remove the need to water the tree. Flocked Christmas trees should still be watered regularly.

Flocked Trees Are Not Environmentally Friendly

There is also a downside to having a flocked tree. Flocked trees, unfortunately, are unable to be recycled. The flocking mixture contains too many chemicals for the tree to be recycled properly, so when Christmas season is over, you may be forced to find a company that specializes in getting rid of flocked Christmas trees.

Make Your Own Flocked Christmas Tree

If you don’t want to buy a tree that has already been flocked, you can flock a Christmas tree yourself. Flocking kits can be bought at craft and Christmas stores across the country. Flocking your own tree is usually a cheaper option than buying a tree that has already been flocked

Tips when flocking a Christmas tree:

  • Flock the tree during the daytime when there is little wind.
  • Read the directions and make sure you apply flocking in the temperature specified on the flocking mixture.
  • Flock the Christmas tree after it has sat in the stand for a couple of days, allowing its position to settle.
  • Flock the tree starting at the top, then move down. You want to make it look as if it is being blanketed by gentle snowfall.
  • Use a back and forth motion when applying the flocking mixture.
  • Flock the exterior before the interior of your tree.
  • Don’t flock the underside of the branches.

Christmas Tree Flocking Tutorial (Video)

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How to Care for a Christmas Tree

  • B.S., Forest Resource Management, University of Georgia

Some people really hate to buy a tree only to turn around and throw it away. You may be one of them. Displaying a potted living Christmas tree can perk up the season and can provide a tree for your yard or landscape a few days after the holiday, to commemorate an extra-special season. A containerized Colorado blue spruce is especially good for preserving if you live in an area where it thrives. Your local nursery can advise you on the type to purchase for your landscape.

It is not hard to keep a potted tree alive long enough to plant, but you need to be careful in following these recommendations exactly to improve the tree’s survival chances. For one, it can be inside only from four to 10 days. You also need to expect to give the tree several days of your attention before and after bringing it inside.

Advance Prep

Local nurseries will have potential conifers that can be purchased several months in advance for delivery near Christmas. If you live in a climate where the ground freezes, you need to dig a planting hole during moderate temperatures because the tree needs to be planted shortly after Christmas. No matter the climate, you’ll want to know where the tree will go to ensure that it will thrive (with the proper soil, sun, etc.).

Caring for a Living Christmas Tree

Your tree will come in a container with soil or as a bare-root tree that is balled in burlap (b-n-b). If it’s a b-n-b tree, you’ll need mulch and a bucket to bring it indoors. But first, you start in the garage.

Buy it now and don’t put it next to the fruit bowl (yes, really)

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Picking the perfect Christmas tree often marks the start of the festive season for many of us.

There’s something so wonderful about a real Christmas tree (the look, the smell) but how do you make sure your seasonal centrepiece stays fresh right through until the New Year?

Although generally easy to care for, there are some important things to bear in mind to keep your real tree looking its best this Christmas.

A real Christmas tree should be treated just like a bunch of flowers you would give to a loved one – all it needs is a bit of TLC. The three most important things to remember to ensure you have a happy tree are to cut the stump, keep the tree hydrated with plenty of water and make sure it doesn’t overheat by positioning it away from radiators.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Thankfully, we’ve got Kamalvir Dhillon, Category Manager at B&Q, to share his expert tips on how to choose and maintain your Christmas tree yet:

1. Make the perfect choice

“From cut to pot grown and Nordmann Fir to Norway Spruce, there is a brilliant variety of real Christmas trees to choose from. Whilst each variant has different characteristics, the most important thing to look out for when choosing the tree is a deep green, healthy-looking spruce with little to no brown needles. Try giving the tree a little test by running your hands through a few of the branches – if the needles don’t drop you’re on to a winner!

2. Positioning is everything

Kamalvir explains: “Christmas trees grow in cold climates so it’s important to keep your tree away from any heat sources such as radiators or fires. This is because heat will dry out the tree meaning it will lose its needles faster.

“A little known tip – it’s also key to keep your tree away from any fruit bowls in the home. Although they may be a staple during the festive period, fruit gives off ethylene gas which affects plants and trees, making needles drop quicker.

“It’s a common myth that it’s better to buy your tree closer to Christmas to ensure it stays fresh up to the big day, however my advice would be to buy early to get your pick of the bunch and leave outside or in a cold room. This way a tree bought on November 1st will look just as fresh as a tree cut November 29th come Christmas day!”

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

3. Hydration, hydration, hydration!

“Like all living creatures, Christmas trees get thirsty, which means they need plenty of water to thrive,” says Kavalmir. “Depending on its size, the average Christmas tree can drink up to one to two litres of water a day which means staying hydrated is extremely important to ensure your tree stays looking bright and bushy all season long.

“If your tree is pot-grown, make sure you water the root ball. And if it’s kept outside on a porch, balcony, or in a garden it might need even more water to avoid it drying out.”

So now you know. And, if you’re anything like Stacey Solomon, you’ll have no problem with choosing and putting up your Christmas tree now.

B&Q’s range of brilliant real Christmas trees are available now at stores nationwide.

Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Find the Perfect Tree and Preserve It for the Full Season

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Lauri Rotko/Getty Images

  • B.S., Forest Resource Management, University of Georgia

Every year millions of families shop for and buy a “real” cut Christmas trees from Christmas tree farms and local lots. According to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), 56 million trees are planted each year for future Christmases and 30 to 35 million families will shop and buy a “real” Christmas tree this year. Finding your perfect Christmas tree can be a challenge.

Shop Early to Find a Christmas Tree

The weekend after Thanksgiving is traditionally when most Christmas tree shopping occurs. But you should really shop for a Christmas tree earlier as it will pay off with less competition for higher quality Christmas tree selections and a fresher holiday tree. You should consider mid-November a time to find a tree and follow through on your Christmas tree procurement.

Remember, every year is different when it comes to Christmas tree availability. Some years have less shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Tree sellers will be busy over a shorter period of time and you might not have as many days to shop for a Christmas tree. Start your tree search early.

Natural disruptions (insects, fire, disease, drought or ice) can cause regional Christmas tree shortages which can make certain Christmas tree species hard to find. In any event, if you are buying you need to plan and purchase early to pick from the best holiday trees on the lot or on the farm.

10 Species of Christmas Trees

Christmas tree growers offer an awesome selection of Christmas tree species with excellent aromatic varieties that retain their needles through the entire season. At least 10 species of Christmas trees are commercially grown and sold in large quantities in North America.

Buying Online

You can now shop for and buy a Christmas tree online with only a few keystrokes – and 300,000 people shop this way every year. Buying Christmas trees directly from a quality Christmas tree grower will save valuable holiday time plus you will avoid a cold, overcrowded holiday tree lot only to find poor quality Christmas trees.

It is especially handy to order online for someone who has trouble getting out to buy. A special Christmas treat for even the healthy would be seeing a delivery truck delivering their own fresh tree for Christmas (make sure you know the size and varieties they like). Read about five of the most popular internet Christmas tree dealers selling fresh from the farm. You need to order early when using catalogs and the Internet as these companies have limited supplies and may require you to furnish a shipping date. Most will not deliver a Christmas tree after December 12th.

Retail Lot Versus Farm

Selecting a Christmas tree at a nearby retail lot or from a Christmas tree farm can be great family fun. To help find a quality Christmas tree near you, check out NCTA’s online member database. The National Christmas Tree Association represents the best tree farms and merchants in the United States.

If you are buying a Christmas tree from a retail lot, the main thing to remember is freshness when selecting a Christmas tree. The needles should be resilient. Take hold of a branch and pull your hand toward you, allowing the needles to slip through your fingers. Most, if not all, of the needles, should stay on the Christmas tree.

What to Look For

Lifting and tapping the Christmas tree on a hard surface should not result in a shower of green needles. Brown needles that have shed the previous year are ok. The Christmas tree should have a fragrance and a rich green color. Branches should be pliable and bend without much resistance.

Actually, none of this will be necessary if you purchase the Christmas tree fresh from a local Christmas tree farm. In most cases, you can find a Christmas tree farm close enough to allow you and/or your kids to cut the tree or buy one that the farm has just cut. Harvesting a tree from a local farm is becoming more and more a favorite family event. Again, you need to use NTCA’s member database to find a farm.

How to Help Your Tree Last Through the Season

Once you get your Christmas tree home there are several things you need to do to help your tree last through the season:

  • Cut one-quarter of an inch off the base of the trunk if the Christmas tree has been harvested over 4 hours. This fresh cut will encourage the free flow of water into the tree to preserve freshness.
  • Mount tree in a water-holding catchment container attached to a sturdy tree stand. Avoid stands without the ability to provide water.
  • Keep a constant check on stand water and don’t let the water ever go below the fresh cut base. This will cause the base to seal and the tree’s premature drying out.
  • Maintain adequate watering. Christmas trees are very thirsty and will use up to a gallon of water each day. Check the stand each day for water.
  • Display your Christmas tree in a cool place but out of a draft. Fireplaces can dry your tree very quickly and reduce tree freshness.

Buying a “Living” Christmas Tree

People are beginning to use living plants as their Christmas tree of choice. Most “living” Christmas tree roots are kept in a “ball” of earth. This ball can be wrapped in burlap or set into a container or pot. The tree should be used very briefly as an indoor tree but must be replanted after Christmas Day.

  • Remember that “live” trees should not stay inside longer than 10 days (some experts suggest as few as three or four days).
  • After Christmas, slowly remove it to the outside using the garage, the shed, then to the planting site.
  • You should not plant in frozen soil and have heat protecting plastic put down if that possibility exists after planting.

Do I Add Anything to the Water?

According to the National Christmas Tree Association and Dr. Gary Chastagner, Washington State University, “your best bet is just plain tap water. It doesn’t have to be distilled water or mineral water or anything like that. So the next time someone tells you to add ketchup or something more bizarre to your tree stand, don’t believe it.”

Most experts insist that plain old water is all you need to keep your Christmas tree fresh through Christmas.

Grow Your Own

You may want to start growing your own Christmas trees! If you are curious how Christmas tree farming takes place, the NCTA’s website is probably the best place to go to get into the business. They help you market your trees, pick the tree best suited for your area, give advice on the care of your trees, and more.

Using real Christmas trees is a good way to support growers and bring fresh aromas to the season. Real Christmas trees can also bring a few surprises and most need daily watering.

When using a real Christmas tree, insects overwintering on the tree may become active indoors. This is not very common, but over the years I’ve had people call about aphids dripping sticky honeydew on presents and newly hatched praying mantis hopping about.

Along with checking a tree for freshness when buying, keep an eye out for insect eggs. Insect eggs are often laid in masses. For example, praying mantis egg masses are light tan, walnut-sized, foamy egg masses on branches that can be easy to see.

You can still buy the tree. Cut out the twig with the egg mass attached to it and place it in an evergreen shrub or tree outdoors to hatch in the spring, especially for beneficial praying mantis.

If insects are noticed on a tree after is set up and decorated, control of these harmless invaders should be limited to nonchemical means. Aerosol insect sprays are flammable and should not be sprayed on a Christmas tree. Insects found on the tree can be ignored until the tree is removed.

Insects that leave the tree and are found on ceilings, walls or windows are best vacuumed or discarded in a tissue. Again, do not spray a Christmas tree with a flammable aerosol insect spray.

The majority of insects that might find their way indoors on a Christmas tree will not harm people, pets or wood; and most will not survive indoors for very long, making them a temporary nuisance.

To keep real trees fresh throughout the season, check them daily for watering needs. If the tree stand dries out, this reduces the tree’s ability to take up water. Once the water is gone, water-absorbing cells in the trunk base become plugged with resins.

A conifer can take up to a gallon or more of water daily depending on its size and condition. The fresher the tree, the faster the basin will dry out. Providing water on daily basis will keep holiday trees fresh and maintain aroma for four to five weeks.

When watering, use plain water with no additives. Research has found commercial preservative mixes, aspirin, sugar and other common home remedies do not provide any benefits in keeping Christmas trees fresh.

If a tree stand dries out, and the tree seems to not be taking up water after it is added, this is a problem. The only way to fix this is to make a fresh cut to the base of the trunk. This would not be easy to do with a decorated tree so make it a habit to add water to tree stands daily.

After the holiday, trees can be recycled to get even more for your money. They can be propped up in the backyard and turned into backyard bird feeders until spring; or used as mulch around the landscape.

For mulch, cut the branches and bundle them together to place over or around newly planted perennials and small shrubs for winter protection. As with all winter mulch, remove the branches in the spring, just as plants begin to grow.

Evergreen branches can also be chopped or ground into woodchips and used as mulch in flower and shrub beds. Once they decompose, they will add organic matter to the soil and continue to provide landscape benefits.

Buying a real Christmas tree this year? Not cheap, is it? Here’s what you need to know about keeping it going until New Year!

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Real or fake? It’s the annual dilemma. Either way, it’s no secrets us Brits love our Christmas trees. Research by insurer Admiral found we spend an average of £155.42 each year on our Christmas tree and decorations!

If you’ve opted for a real tree this Christmas, you’ve probably ended up paying more than you anticipated to get the right one – so the last thing you want is for it to start shedding the moment you get it inside. There’s something magical about having a real Christmas tree in the house but a 6-7ft fir could easily set you back between £45 and £65.

If you’re going for the real deal this year, you’ll want to make sure your tree stays looking its festive best for as long as possible. Here’s how.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Branch out

Buy a tree with soft, flexible branches. Visit the British Christmas Tree Growers Association website to find your nearest stockist of sustainably grown British trees.

Before you buy, check that there aren’t too many broken branches and look for a tree with a trunk that’s tacky to the touch.

Say no to shredding

When it comes to shedding needles, not all Christmas trees are created equal. Trees such as Nordmann Fir and Scots Pine generally retain their needles better than spruces.

Look for a Fraser Fir – which has a distinctive tapered shape – if space is tight.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Do some DIY

Saw a few centimetres off the bottom of the trunk (the retailer may do this for you) then soak it in water before bringing it indoors.

When you bring it inside, cut a further 2cm (¾in) off the base so it can absorb water more easily. This will stop it getting dehydrated, which can lead to rapid needle loss.

Make a stand

Use a stand that keeps the tree secure and allows for easy watering. You can pick up a basic stand for £15-20, like this one.

Alternatively, you can put the tree in a waterproof container, wedged in with stones or bricks. Don’t plant the tree in sand or soil, as this can prevent it taking up water.

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Show some love

Place the tree in a sheltered spot indoors away from radiators and fireplaces, which could cause it to dry out. Water it daily – a cut tree can drink a litre or more each day, depending on its size.

Take care of your living Christmas tree so that it will thrive when the holiday is over.

Related To:

How to Care for a Christmas Tree

Living Fir Christmas Tree

With proper care, living Christmas trees can last well after the holidays.

Photo by: Photo by Debbie Wolfe

Photo by Debbie Wolfe

The idea of bringing a living tree into the home to use as a Christmas tree is tantalizing to gardeners. Using a live tree gives you the flexibility to choose from a much wider array of tree species that simply are not available as harvested trees. If you are thinking of using a live Christmas tree, there are a few things you should consider before proceeding.

First, most trees that are grown to be planted do not necessarily look like “Christmas trees;”their shape is less uniform and their branches may not be as dense or stiff. Second, you will probably need to go with a much smaller tree than you would if you used a cut tree because the weight of the root ball is significant and normally anything much taller than five or six feet is not manageable. Also, it is a good idea to start sourcing your live tree well in advance of the holiday season if you have a particular species in mind because garden centers and nurseries often have a reduced selection of “plantable” trees while they are selling cut Christmas trees. If this sounds doable then a living Christmas tree will work for you.

Once you choose your tree, you will want to bring it in right away. Don’t do it! The shorter the duration of its stay indoors, the better. Keep it to five days or fewer in the house so that it does not become completely acclimatized to the conditions inside your home. A longer stay could lead to a break in dormancy which would cause problems when it’s time to go back out. If the conditions outside are consistently below forty degrees, transition it into the home by keeping it in an unheated room, basement or garage for a day before bringing it in the house.

Water it well before it comes in so that you can avoid watering while it’s inside. The tree’s location should be similar to a good location for a fresh cut tree: no direct sunlight, and keep the tree away from heat vents. This will help you avoid watering. If it is inside less than three days, you will almost definitely not have to water it; but if it’s going to be more like five days you may have to. Plan ahead. If you think you may have to water it, place it in a saucer that will catch the drain water and elevate the container an inch or so so that it will not sit in the drain water. If and when you water while the tree is indoors, use only a pint at a time and stop watering when it starts to come out the drain holes in the bottom of the container.

Most standard decorations are fine to use on living Christmas trees. The best lights to use are LEDs because they generate far less heat than incandescents, and won’t dry out the foliage. Do not spray fake snow, adhesive glitter or any other adhesive sprays on living Christmas trees, as they may clog the pores on the foliage, damaging it. When it’s time to take the tree out, transition it the same way you did when you brought it in. Water the tree well as soon as you get it outside. If conditions are really cold, you may want to take it a step further by putting it outside during the day and bringing it into an unheated room for the night, for two or three nights before leaving it outside permanently. If the ground is not frozen, plant the tree as soon as possible after transitioning it outside. If the ground is frozen, plant the tree when the ground thaws and keep it well watered in the meantime.

Carol Stocker – Globe Correspondent

November 28, 2019 12:00 pm

Evergreens and fresh flowers can make great holiday gifts and decorations. Before shopping for material, check your garden for useful evergreen and winterberry branches, plus pine cones and seed pods for spray painting. Just a bit can personalize the wrappings and decorations you buy, the way basil and parsley from your herb garden brightened summer meals.

But know your enemies! Many a tree has been strangled by a single berry dropped from a cheerful-looking wreath of treacherous bittersweet. Shun these orange and red capsules and also turquoise porcelain berries the way you would avoid adding pretty dandelion puffball seedheads to backyard bouquets.

Trees

Live Christmas trees are the royalty of holiday plants. Buying and decorating natural trees can create family memories. The difference between a real tree and an artificial one is the difference between a homecooked meal and takeout. If you want to cut your own, visit the Massachusetts Christmas Tree Association (christmas-trees.org) to find the nearest farm.

(Which Christmas trees smell best, last the longest? How to choose one.)

Treat a Christmas tree like a bouquet of cut flowers that you want to last. If you buy it from a lot, tap the trunk butt on the ground to make sure it’s not shedding needles. Get your tree on a warmish day so it won’t be shocked by the temperature change when it moves indoors. Have the seller cut a couple of fresh inches off the end of the stump to reopen the tree’s dried-out xylem (circulatory) vessels so it can drink. Put it in a deep bucket of water the minute you get it home, or recut the stump just before setting it up in a stand with the largest water reservoir you can find.

Trees drink a lot of water every day, so the stand needs to be topped off every night when you turn off the lights. If it goes empty and the cut end dries out, the tree will no longer be able to suck up water and will dry out, even if you belatedly refill the reservoir. A humidifier will benefit your tree, plus any houseplants in the room. A pan of mulled cider simmering on the stove also will contribute.

Real trees have uses after the holidays. After removing the decorations, I recycle mine by cutting up and laying the tree’s boughs in my perennial garden to help protect it against sharp fluctuations between warm and cold days, which can cause root-breaking frost heaves. These temperature whipsaws are becoming more common with climate change. When the needles drop, you can leave them in place as permanent mulch, removing the skeletal limbs in the spring. I also sometimes place the entire tree near a feeder to provide cover from hawks for birds waiting their turn. Don’t burn it in the fireplace. I caused a chimney fire one year from creosote buildup by doing that.

Plants

The most popular flowering Christmas plant is the good old poinsettia, which will continue to bloom all winter with a little watering and even less light. Eventually you should throw it out, because the plants are cheap and almost never rebloom. The “flowers’’ are actually bracts, or modified leaves, which is why they stay colorful for so long. (The same goes for dogwoods and hellebores.)

Amaryllis bulbs also are in demand now. You can buy them as kits to give or grow. But they seldom bloom in time for the holidays, so many people are now buying them in bud or bloom. Paperwhite narcissus bulbs are popular for their sweet fragrance. To sprout your own, set them on top of a bowl of pebbles in water that just touches the bottom of the bulbs, which will anchor themselves by sprouting roots. Discard after blooming.

Fuchsia and white phalaenopsis orchids have become less expensive and more popular in recent years due to mass production and air freight. Like Christmas cactus, they are easy, long-lasting, and can rebloom if you water them weekly and fertilize them monthly after blooming. Move them from a location with four hours of indirect light to a shady spot outside each summer until the cold weather returns. When they rebloom is determined by the variety.

When bringing tropical plants (or cut flowers) home from the store or to someone’s house as a Christmas gift, wrap the entire plant, including the pot, in newspaper that has been taped shut to keep out the cold. Even a few minutes of frigid weather can kill some plants.

Note to readers: I will be taking my winter hiatus soon, so please do not send your garden questions until next spring.