December: A Live Christmas Tree

Enjoying a real Christmas tree in your home (not artificial) without taking on partial responsibility for having killed a tree is soul satisfying. To do so and successfully add a tree to your home landscape also eases the pangs in your wallet. It isn't an easy undertaking but it is possible if you follow these guidelines:

Tree Selection. The best species for live Christmas trees in our area are Blue Spruce (Colorado or "Fat Albert"), or a heavy sheared Eastern White Pine. Be aware the either will eventually be a very big tree - up to 30'-60' tall and 10'-20' wide. Make sure you have space in your landscape for such a tree. Pruning can help, but this is not a foundation plant.

Plant Care and Transport. You will need a stout rubber or galvanized metal tub at least 36" wide and some support for the root ball. An old car tie set in the tub works well to keep the root ball out of standing water and supported well enough to stay upright. The tree may only be moved by lifting from the root ball; never grabbing by the tree trunk.

Indoor Display. Your tree may safely remain indoors for a maximum of 6 to 7 days. Place the tree in a cool room in only indirect light. Shut any heating vents near the tree. From the time you bring your tree home until it is placed in its planting hole, keep the root ball moist by watering with 1 quart of warm water each day. Also, before bringing the tree inside, spray its foliage with a mixture of water and the anti-desiccant "Wilt-Pruf." Use miniature lights and only illuminate when there is someone there to enjoy it.

Hardening Off. Plan to remove your tree to a garage or sheltered carport for a 2-week stay before planting. Continue to water with the quart of warm water daily. Your tree needs this time to gradually adapt to the colder outside temperatures.
Plant Your Tree in a full sun exposure. Also, do not plant in any area that remains soggy the day after a rain. Neither pines nor spruce will tolerate wet locations.