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Planning Tips for a Living Christmas Tree

Kids and Christmas Trees {Tarheel Gardening.com (2012)}

Planning Tips for a Living Christmas Tree


Did you forget that today is Earth Day and this Friday is National Arbor Day? Then grant yourself an extension for both by celebrating this December with a living Christmas tree.

As more and more people become environmentally conscious the use of a living tree as a Christmas tree is growing in popularity. Doing so is not as simple as using a cut tree, but is much more rewarding as you get to enjoy the tree year after year. Because a living Christmas tree requires advanced planning, it is best not to wait until the last minute.

Planning Tips

  • Decide on a Type of Tree and Where to Plant It After the Holiday
    You will need to select a type of tree that is suited to where you will eventually plant it and will work for your decorating needs. See my article on Natural Christmas Tree Shopping- A Comparison Guide for an idea of what your options are. Your local garden center or nursery will be able to answer specific questions you have.

    If you live in an area where the ground freezes, then you will need to pre-dig a hole in which to plant the tree or plan on keeping the tree in a planter until the ground thaws. A hole should be twice as wide as the tree’s root ball. Fill the hole with mulch and place the excavated soil in a bucket or wrap it in a tarp.

  • Shop Early

    Shop early in order to have the widest selection to choose from. Most garden centers and nurseries will tag trees to hold until you are ready to transport them home.

  • Slowly Transition the Tree

    Living trees need to acclimate between outdoors to indoors and then back to outdoors. When first bringing the tree in, place it on a sheltered porch, in a garage, or in a shaded area close to the house for a few days. The tree needs to adjust to the change in temperature.

  • Care for the Tree

    The tree will need regular watering. It is fragile, so do not used heavy decorations that will wear on the branches or hot lights that may dry out the needles. Follow many of the same care tips for natural cut trees, e.g. keep the tree away from heat vents. A living tree can last indoors for seven to ten days.

  • Follow Instructions When Planting
    The garden center or nursery where you purchased the tree should provide planting instructions. Trees with burlap root balls require removal of all of the burlap when planting. Trees in containers need to be removed before planting. Any encircling roots need to be cut and loosened so that they grow outward after planting.

    Place the tree in the hole so that the soil line it was grown at is in line with the terrain. After placing the tree in the hole, backfill with the excavated soil in stages, gently compacting each layer of soil. Once complete, add 2-3 inches of mulch at the base of the tree.

Photo: Kids and Christmas Trees {Tarheel Gardening.com (2012)}

Geek Factor

Earth Day is observed on April 22 each year. The April 22 date was designated as International Mother Earth Day by a consensus resolution adopted by the United Nations in 2009. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and is celebrated in more than 192 countries every year.

National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April, but many states and municipalities celebrate on other dates. Find out when your local Arbor Day is at The Arbor Day Foundation site. Usually observed in the spring, the date varies, depending on climate and suitable planting season.