Christmas Tree Selection and Care
It’s that time of the year. Christmas trees are everywhere in a variety of species, sizes and colors. Some live, some cut. The popularity of a live Christmas Tree has been on the rise for several years, but all to often many of these trees do not survive long after the “big day” is past so we thought we’d pass along these tips on choosing, planting and caring for your live Christmas tree.
The most important aspect to consider when making your purchase is to make sure you pick a variety that will grow well in our area. Also consider where you wish to eventually plant the tree and choose one of the appropriate height and width so that it fits into the landscape.
The most common tree species used for living Christmas trees include Spruce, Pines and Firs, although many garden centers often market any cone-shaped tree as an option for Christmas. Although these may not be considered “traditional” choices, they may be the best option for your area.
When choosing a tree check for needle retention and good colour and be sure the branches are soft and flexible, which indicates a healthy tree. Check the growing container and make sure that your choice of christmas tree is NOT root bound within the container. The roots ideally should be moist and not overly dry from a lack of sufficient watering. Then check the tree for any sign of disease or pests.
Now that you have your tree and it is home, make sure you keep it outside in a sheltered area until a few days before christmas. Water the tree and make sure that all the soil is moist but now soaking wet. Shelter the tree from high winds and full sun. Your goal is to acclimate the tree to warmer temperatures over the course of three to five days. Moving the tree into a covered patio or porch or garage is recommended during this time of transition.
There also are many anti-desiccant and anti-wilt products available which many use at christmas. If you choose to do so, make sure you spray the tree BEFORE you move it inside and while is is acclimating to a warmer environment. Avoid the temptation to bring your tree indoors too early. In fact, the less time indoors the better.
One or two days before Christmas is best, but no more than a week! Your home is an inhospitable environment for a living tree. Climate controlled homes are warm and dry. Don’t place your tree near heat ducts or vents, hot radiators, stoves, or anywhere else where heat can dry out your tree, and stimulate new growth. Be sure to keep an eye on the soil and keep it moist. If the root ball is wrapped in burlap, place it in a large tub, and add mulch up to the top of the burlap to help retain moisture.
After Christmas, move your tree back outdoors as soon as possible. However, don’t immediately plant it. The tree will need to readjust to the outdoors in a protected area for several days. Again, avoid direct sun, high winds, and warm areas when storing your tree. Be sure to maintain soil moisture. In a week or 10 days, move your tree into the planting hole in your landscape.
A good idea is to have already prepared the planting site. This is especially important in our area of the country where the ground already may be getting frozen. Plant this tree as you would any other, following sound planting practices. The hole should be at least twice as wide as the root ball, but no deeper.
Planting your tree slightly higher than the surrounding soil will help with drainage. It is not advisable to amend your planting hole with organic matter. Rather, backfill with the original soil.
Finally, be sure to water and mulch your tree to retain moisture. Continue to monitor soil moisture. Winter conditions can be very dry, and your plants and trees need water now as well, especially newly planted ones. The proper care and planning, before and after the holidays, will help ensure your tree survives for years to come.
Did you buy a tree and now find you need help planting it? Give us a call at 201-389-6979 and we’ll send a couple of Santa’s elves out to do the job for you.