How to Plant a Living Christmas Tree

The decision to buy a living tree requires a bit more thought than choosing a fresh-cut tree. Not only do you have to choose the size and type of tree that will fit the space you have indoors, you also have to give serious thought to where the tree will be planted once it goes outdoors after the holidays. Make sure that you find a place to plant the tree prior to purchasing it, to make sure there will be room for the tree to grow.


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    Readjust the tree to outdoor temperatures after the holidays, by placing it back on the sheltered porch or in the garage for several days. It is important to plant your tree as soon as possible after the holidays. Do not wait until spring.
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    Select a planting site that has well-drained soil, full sun and that is appropriate for the mature tree’s size
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    Plant the tree and make sure that the hole is the same depth but at least twice and preferably five times wider than the root ball. Be sure not to plant the tree too deeply. Do not over prepare the back fill with organic matter. If the soil is fertile and well-drained, amendments should not be needed.
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    Place the soil on a tarp, in a basket, etc. Store this in a warm place until you are ready to use it. If you are going to stake the tree, be sure to place the stakes in the ground before the ground freezes. Stakes should be removed in the spring.
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    Remove the synthetic burlap completely since it can cause root girdling. Remove natural burlap from the top of the root ball, to avoid drying out the root ball.
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    Remove containers from container-grown trees and cut and loosen any encircling roots. Remove at least the top portion of wire tree baskets after the root ball is in the planting hole.
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    Fill the hole around the freshly set tree with the loosened, unamended soil from the planting hole. Backfill around the root ball in stages, gently firming in each layer of soil. Water well to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Apply 2 or 3 inches (5.1 or 7.6 cm) of mulch on top of the root ball. It is not necessary to fertilize until spring.
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    When you get ready to plant your tree, be sure it is planted at the same depth it was grown at the nursery. After putting the tree in the hole, remove any plastic and burlap. If the tree was container-grown, be sure to loosen outside roots and prune broken roots. Also redirect roots, which wrap around the soil mix so they will grow out away from the tree. Fill in the hole with the soil you have stored and heel it in firmly. Use any remaining soil to build a ridge three to four inches high around the outside edge of the soil ball. This "bowl" will help you insure that all of the roots are watered properly. Remove this ridge of soil in the spring. Spraying an anti-desiccant according to label instructions may be helpful.
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    Know that if applicable and the ground around the tree freezes, mulch it with two to three inches of a good mulch. Keep the tree watered, especially during thaws. With proper care, your live Christmas tree should be a valuable addition to your landscape.[[Image:Plant a Living Christmas Tree Step 9.jpg}}


  • If the work of bringing a live tree in and out of the house seems excessive, consider planting the tree directly outside and decorating it there. This can become an enjoyable occasion that is less stressful on both you and the tree.
  • Balled-and-burlapped or container-grown Living Christmas trees can be purchased at retail lots, choose-and-cut farms, and many nurseries and garden centers.
  • If you live in an apartment, or have no space to plant outdoors, you can buy a smaller sized living tree, plant it in a suitable size container and keep it on the terrace, deck or your patio and bring it indoors for the following Christmas. Keep the tree a suitable size with yearly pruning.
  • If you do not have space in your own yard for a living tree, you may be able to donate it to a local school, church or park. Be sure that there are such options in your area ahead of time.
  • Norfolk Island pine is a pine-like houseplant that you can use as a Christmas tree for many years. Norfolk Island pines must have evenly bright light that reaches all the branches to maintain good form. Plants that do not get enough light become leggy and misshapen. The soil should be kept evenly moist, but the plant must never sit in water. Norfolk Island pines prefer cool to medium temperatures of 50 to 70 °F (10 to 21 °C) during the day and 45 to 65 °F (7 to 18 °C) at night.

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Categories: Christmas Trees