Are you tired of your aging, scentless, plastic, artificial Christmas tree? Want to do something that is great for the environment… and for tyour soul? Why not put up a real Christmas tree this year. And when I say “real” I mean a living tree that can be planted out in the yard in the spring to add beauty to your world for decades to come. The use of potted living Christmas trees is becoming increasingly popular with each passing year. Many families have successfully added several trees to their landscape through the use of potted living Christmas trees over the years. And your children can return home for Christmas later in life and tell their own children about planting that Christmas tree in their yard when they were kids.
Now, if you live in an area of cold winters where the temperature can be expected to fall below zero in the wintertime (like we have here in east Idaho) you will need to follow the suggestions outlined below in order to be successful. One of the sacrifices you will make is not having your tree inside as long as you might like. You can decorate it in an unheated porch for a longer period, but in a heated room it is best to keep it inside for 7 days or less. You might get away with having it inside for a longer period, especially if you have a protected place (like a root cellar) to put it after Christmas, but the longer you have it inside a warm room, the greater risk you are taking that it will survive when you put it back outside.
So here are my suggestions for a successful experience with a potted tree.
1. Keep your tree in an unheated garage or shed until ready to bring it inside to decorate. This will keep the tree dormant while protecting it from the harsh elements.
2. It is best to keep your tree in a warm room for no more than 7 days. Otherwise it may begin to come out of dormancy and you will have to leave it indoors until spring.
3. Water the tree as needed while indoors. Provide a saucer to catch excess water draining from the pot.
4. If decorating with lights, use only miniature types that give off little heat.
5. After Christmas, water your tree well, then move it back into the garage until the ground thaws in the spring. Better yet, store your tree in a root cellar or potato cellar. Cellars work extremely well for tree storage, as long as the tree is dormant.
6. Another option is to keep your tree in the house all winter. You must have a large south window where the tree can get full sunlight. And you will need to rotate the tree about once per week so the sunlight can reach all sides of the tree. If you choose to leave it inside, it will begin to grow, so don’t put it back outside until all danger of frost has passed in the spring.
If you are planning to add an evergreen tree to your yard next spring, why not buy it now and use it as a Christmas tree as well. It’s a great way to help the environment, teach your children about the importance of trees in our world, and bring the wonderful fragrance of a real tree into your home for the holidays.