Living Christmas trees

In our family, Christmas is officially over when the tree comes down. It’s a shame because we kind of get attached to the tree and it’s a shame to toss it out.

Joe Lamp’l is the host and executive producer of the show “Growing a Greener World,” which airs on public television. He says one way to enjoy Christmas tree beauty year-round is to plant it in the yard after the holidays

Do your homework to find an evergreen from a local nursery that will grow well in your area. Check to be sure it’s healthy and has a good root system. When you get it home, Lamp’l says don’t bring it immediately into the house. It needs to be acclimated for a few days. 

"Put it in a sheltered area outside of your house, perhaps a garage or a carport where it’s not in direct exposure to wind. Make sure there’s water so the roots have a chance to take up more moisture," says Lamp'l. "The more that tree can have access to water prior to going in the house, the better it will do once it’s in the house."

The less time a living Christmas tree spends inside the better. It shouldn’t be in the house for more than a week. 

When you’re ready to move it back outside, Lamp’l says to re-acclimate it the same way you did before bringing it inside. Then, plant the tree in the ground. 

"If you dig the hole in advance if it’s frozen ground, you’ve gotten a head start on that. That’s ideal," he says. "But maybe the ground isn’t frozen when you buy your tree and you dig the hole then, that’s an ideal time to do it if possible because you have the root ball there to know how deep you need to make the hole. Only as deep as the root ball, but two-to-three times as wide."

Be sure to give your newly-planted tree plenty of water to keep the roots moist, and add mulch over the top.

If the ground is frozen and there’s no way you’ll be digging a planting hole, Lamp’l says it’s okay to wait until you can get to it. The tree should be fine as long as it’s in a protected area and isn’t allowed to dry out.


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