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This is painful for me to admit but I don’t have a “real” Christmas tree at my house. I hate fake trees and do so love the smell of fresh cut greenery during the holiday season but I just haven’t brought myself to spend the money and time cleaning up the mess of a live tree. Every year I tell myself that this is the year but the hustle and bustle of the season always pushes the “real” tree idea out of my mind.
I don’t even put up the tree at my house, well, actually I despise the idea and job of putting together that plastic tree. I know full well if I went to the trouble of getting a “real” tree that I would enjoy decorating it as well, but I just don’t seem to have the desire or commitment of a live tree for some reason. The best reason I can give for not getting a real tree is that the tree I didn’t cut will be growing and producing carbon dioxide for years to come. Never mind that most trees come from tree farms that will be cut anyway if they are a certain age or size, or that I have a plastic tree that is produce from fossil fuels and shipped thousands of miles from China and might even contain toxins that are yet to be found.
On second thought maybe I might have the energy to get a real tree afterall?
One can get a live tree either cut or balled and bur lapped/containerized? Nothing can replace that fresh pine scent and the nostalgia of a live tree. There are several things you can do to increase the life span and viability of a live tree. I will start with the cut ones.
First of all if you want a live cut tree the one you cut yourself will last the longest. Many department store and tree stand trees have been cut for several weeks before you even get to look at them. If you do buy a previously cut tree don’t hesitate to ask the dealer how long the trees have been cut, you want the one that’s been cut for the least amount of time. When selecting a tree place a needle between your thumb and index finger. If the needle breaks with slight pressure it is too dry and isn’t coming back. Another way to tell if a tree is fresh or not is to hold it six to eight inches off the ground cut end down and drop it. If green needles fall off pick a different tree.
When you get your tree home make a fresh cut on the trunk end just prior to placing it in water. This will open up the vascular system to receive water. Place your tree in a cool room where it won’t be exposed to direct heat. Give it plenty of water! A stand that holds at least a gallon is best. Below is a good water recipe to help your tree last longer.
Cut Christmas Tree
1 cup of corn syrup
3 tablespoons of liquid bleach
1 gallon of water
If you are on a budget and want to get double usage for your money you can try a live or balled and bur lapped/containerized tree. These trees have most of their root systems intact and will be planted in the landscape after the holiday season is over.
There are several things that must be taken into consideration before trying to use a tree for Christmas and as a landscape plant. First of all remember that “if” your tree lives many of them will grow 40-60 feet tall at maturity. So buy one only if you have the right spot in the landscape for it.
Plan to keep your tree indoors no more than seven-10 days. Any longer and it will lose its winter dormancy/hardiness. Keep the root system moist by placing it in a plastic tub. Again, just like the cut tree place it in a cool room away from direct heat.
One other tip is to have the hole already dug with a plastic cover over it to keep it dry. We may have really cold weather by the first of January and you don’t want to have to try and dig a hole in frozen soil. Don’t forget to water your new tree during the winter especially if we have cold dry weather. If you have any questions you can contact me at the Washington County Extension office at (859) 336-7741 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on facebook under Washington County Horticulture. If you would like updates on horticulture topics hit like on our facebook page and horticulture information will come to you free of charge! Happy gardening!