Archive for December 8th, 2010


How to Choose a Living Christmas Tree

December 8, 2010

I wish every family could experience, at least once, the pleasures of having a living Christmas tree. It’s a wonderful way to honor a loved one or to mark a special milestone or occasion, first indoors adorned with ornaments, then outdoors where family and neighbors can enjoy it for years to come.

Every day I look through the windows at my living tree, a blue spruce. It anchors the perennial garden’s northeast corner. My husband surprised me with it one Christmas after learning that I had cancer. Eighteen years later, the blue spruce stands tall and bold, a thriving celebration of life.

If you don’t have outdoor space for a living Christmas tree, consider donating it after the holidays to your favorite park, community organization, school, or church. If you have outdoor space for a potted tree, choose a slow growing or dwarf variety.

Living trees do cost more than a cut tree, but it will give you years of pleasure. Here are some tips to help you choose the right tree:

  • Living Christmas trees include spruce, cedar, sequoia, fir, cypress, pine.
  • A good variety for keeping a living tree in an outdoor pot is blue spruce. These grow less than eight inches per year.
  • Take your time, and inspect the trees carefully before making a purchase.
  • Read the nursery tags. Determine if the tree’s mature size, light, soil, and drainage requirements match your planting site and zone.
  • Look for new growth and flexible branches.
  • Avoid trees that have yellow, brown, or shedding needles or other signs of damage.
  • Never buy a tree (or shrub) that is root bound. Lift the tree out of its nursery pot. If the roots wrap around the root ball/soil like a girdle, don’t buy it. Eventually, the tree will choke and die.
  • The root ball of a ball-and-burlap tree should be firm, not falling apart. Rock-hard soil is an indication of improper watering.

Tomorrow:  Tips on caring for your living Christmas tree.

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