Living Christmas Trees
“The answer to all your holiday tree-related woes!”
When it comes to Christmas trees, the classic conundrum for years has been choosing between a cut tree or a fake one. Cut trees come with an authentic aroma and environmentally-friendly nature, but also an expiration date. Artificial trees last for years and can even be purchased pre-lit to save time, but they lack authenticity and just take up space in our already full landfills when they’re disposed of. Wouldn’t it be nice just to get a tree that looks real, smells real, lasts for years, and actually helps the environment?
Truly Live Christmas Trees
Living Christmas trees are the answer to all your holiday tree-related woes! Unlike their cut companions, these trees keep their root systems intact so they can last year after year totally alive. How do they do it? Like our houseplants and container gardens, these trees are potted, so they can keep on living even after the holidays have passed.
Once they’ve played their part in the house, you can keep them in their container to enjoy another year with some coddling or you can plant them in the ground to add beauty to your landscape! Not only is it a great way to commemorate a special event, like baby’s first Christmas or an anniversary, it’s also incredibly beneficial to your home. Having a tree not only increases your home’s market value, but it also brings down your electricity bill by offering windbreak in the winter and shade in the summer to regulate temperatures naturally! How’s that for a selling feature?
Bringing Home a Living Christmas Tree
To bring home all the benefits of a living Christmas tree, you’ll want to start by digging your hole. If you’re planting it after the holidays, chances are the ground will be too frozen to bring up, so you’ll want to do that earlier in the season. Here in Alberta, the ground is pretty solidly frozen by about mid-December, so may want to break your rule of waiting until December to get started with the holiday decorating.
Dig a hole as deep as and much wider than your root ball. You’ll want extra space around your tree to fill in with workable soil it can use when the rest is frozen. Loosen the soil in the hole and bring the soil you dug up into your home to keep it workable.
Cover your hole with wood or a tarp to keep it from filling in with snow and ice. It’s hard to plant a tree when there’s a popsicle in its place.
Keep it well watered. Like our other potted plants, living trees will go through their limited water supply much faster. Water every other day while outside and every single day inside to keep it quenched. Make sure the water flows freely from the bottom each time.
Don’t bring it inside until a few days before Christmas. Your tree won’t like the warmth your house is probably filled with at this time of year, so keeping it outside as long as possible will keep it happiest. When you do bring it in, slowly acclimate it to its new temporary home by bringing it in the porch or garage for a few hours a day beforehand.
Place it away from vents, heaters, or fireplaces. Excess heat will trick your tree into thinking it’s spring, so it will adjust to those temperatures, which could cause shock when moving back into the blustery cold after the holidays. Keep it cool and content.
Water every day. With the excess heat and drier climate our homes tend to have, your tree will
Limit its time indoors. If left inside too long, not only will your tree be missing the sun, it will also become more susceptible to shock when moved back out again. Only keep it inside for 7-10 days to limit any unnecessary stress.
After the Holidays
When the holidays are over, and it’s time to transition your tree outside, remember to acclimate it slowly, just as you did bringing it in. Then, once it’s ready, you can get planting!
Take it out of the pot and loosen the root ball very gently before placing it in the hole. Fill it in with the soil you stored inside and water thoroughly to settle it in place. Top it off with a layer of mulch for a little extra insulation and you’re set!
If you happened to pick up your tree a tad late in the season to have dug your hole, don’t start stressing that it’s all over just yet! Simply bring your potted tree outside to an area that is sheltered from the desiccating winds and keep it well watered until the ground is workable.
Of course, you can always leave it in the pot, too, just remember to water it very frequently and remember to re-pot it when needed as it grows.
Living Tree Tips
Use LED lights to prevent burns. Incandescent lights burn hot to the touch and can singe the needles of your tree. LEDs run cool and keep your tree burn-free.
Use lighter ornaments to prevent damaged branches. Heavy ornaments can weigh down branches and damage them in the long run. Keep your tree full and healthy by using lightweight bulbs and decorating gently.
Take clippings to decorate your house next year. When the time comes to give your tree a haircut, take those pruned branches and use them in your wreaths and home decor!
Don’t forget to decorate outside. As beautiful as your tree looks with lights and ornaments inside, it’ll look twice as good when decorated in its own natural element.
Don’t confine yourself to choosing between a slowly dying specimen or a plastic alternative. Give yourself an authentic tree that lasts for years, not just beautifying your home for one holiday season, but for many to come!