Are “living trees” a practical option?
Absolutely! Potted Christmas trees in containers placed in the home and watered like a houseplant, then later transplanted out into your landscaping, is a fantastic and truly “green” choice of tree.
Living trees come in all sizes, from small (to use as a tabletop variety) to medium (as a secondary tree for a smaller room in your house or for an apartment) and large (the closest to a normal, full-size tree). While you’ll likely pay a bit more for these, once Christmas Day is over, you’ll have a beautiful new tree to add to your landscape. Read on for Arborscape’s top tips for living Christmas tree care.
Some species at your local nursery that can be used as potted Christmas trees and then added to your landscaping include spruce pine, Eastern red cedar, junipers (such as Blue Point or Sky Rocket), Arizona cypress, deodar cedar, Savannah holly, and other hollies (attractive red berries, but they’re poisonous if you have young children or pets), Italian stone pine and rosemary (both of these are commonly available sheared into a Christmas tree shape). Arborscape’s nursery partner, Jared’s Nursery, carries a range of Spruce varieties especially well-suited to thrive here in Colorado, as well as many other species.
Potted living Christmas trees, unlike cut fresh trees, still have their roots, and will survive beyond the holidays. These trees or shrubs are replanted into the ground after Christmas, where they’ll grow and become part of the landscape. Or, if small enough, they may continue as a container plant to be used as a Christmas tree again in the future – a truly sustainable tree!
Because these trees won’t be discarded like cut trees after the holidays, additional care should be taken to keep them as healthy as possible while on display. The varieties we usually use as potted Christmas trees tend to prefer their natural outdoor conditions, so we keep them indoors for as short a time as possible. Generally, limit the time indoors to no more than about two weeks.
Place the plant where it can get natural light. Like all living plants, these evergreens still need to photosynthesize. A light-colored wall that reflects natural light will help if positioning the tree by a window isn’t an option.
Check the soil regularly, and add water if it feels dry. If the pot is covered with decorative foil or plastic, it can hold excess water and keep the soil too wet – punch holes in the covering to allow excess water to drain into a saucer, or, if it’s a smaller plant, remove it from the cover, add water, allow it to drain and then replace the cover.
Too much warmth is an issue for most of these trees. Try to place the potted Christmas tree away from heat sources such as heaters and warm air vents.
Also, try to avoid very heavy ornaments – these can damage or break the branches on young or smaller plants. Remember, you’re not throwing this one away after the New Year!
After Christmas, either continue to grow the plant in its container or plant it in the ground outside. Many of the plants used for potted Christmas trees are hardy and can be planted in late December or January.
If you plant it into the ground, you need to know what growing conditions it prefers and how big it will grow. Most of these plants will need a sunny, well-drained location. Pay careful attention to the mature size. It is easy to plant a relatively small potted Christmas tree in a location where it may grow to be far too large over time.
Feel free to give us a call anytime for tree care, and we hope you have a magical holiday!