Caring for a Living Christmas Tree

Caring for a Living Christmas Tree

Planting a living tree can be a great way to add to your landscape, extend the season, and add a fun family tradition to your Christmas holiday. As with anything growing and alive a little preparation is in order for a successful experience.

  1. It is best to think in advance of where your tree will go in your yard. Commonly sold living Christmas trees grow to be fairly large so plan accordingly!
  2. Pre-dig the hole before the ground freezes. If temperatures are expected to be below freezing during and after the holidays, pile the soil from the hole in a wheelbarrow or cart and store it in the garage or shed. You can plant a tree in a hole of frozen soil, but you’ll appreciate having the loose soil thawed when you go to plant.
  3. Water the tree really well before bringing it inside.
  4. Gradually introduce your tree to the indoors over 3-4 days by way of the garage or an enclosed porch. You don’t want the tree to break dormancy by bringing it directly into a 70 degree house.
  5. Spraying your tree with an anti desiccant will help keep the moisture in its needles. The product we use is Wilt-Pruf.
  6. When choosing a spot in the house try to place the tree in a cooler room. Avoid heating ducts, fireplaces and registers.
  7. Place the tree into a large galvanized bucket or rubber tub. You’ll need to keep the tree watered while in the house, so use a container that doesn’t leak. Although the root ball needs to be kept damp, it shouldn’t be sitting in standing water. Too much water will rot the roots.
  8. Adding mulch to a bucket around the root ball will help stabilize the tree and keep the moisture more constant.
  9. Your tree has been dormant so you shouldn’t plan to keep it in the house for more than 4 or 5 days. Plan to bring a live tree in just before Christmas and move it outside the day after whenever possible.
  10. After the holiday plant the tree in the prepared hole. Be sure to remove the burlap and wire basket and don’t plant the tree too deeply. You should see the “root flare” where the bottom of the trunk flares out slightly at ground level. After filling the soil around the root ball, water the area well and apply any mulch you have over the soil’s surface.
  11. Water your tree once a week as long as the ground isn’t frozen. Remember in the spring and summer that this is a newly installed tree that will need watering once a week if it hasn’t rained.
  12. In future years, decorate your planted living tree with seed ornaments for the birds!
  13. Merry Christmas!

    When I decorate a living tree I transfer some of my favorite ornaments onto a bare branch for awhile so that I can enjoy them a bit longer before packing them away. Each ornament has a memory that goes along with it, and this is one of the nicest things about holiday decorating.

    You can download a pdf file with this living tree information from our Informational Handouts page.

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