I realize we’re well past the winter solstice and holiday season, but many of you are still looking for information about tree planting for your live Christmas trees. Here in Eastern Pennsylvania, I still haven’t planted a tree for the season – the weather, soil, and timing just haven’t been right this year, so I’ll need to wait for the spring thaw. (Tomorrow is Groundhog Day in the US, so we’ll see what Punxsutawney Phil has to say about it!)
Live Christmas trees are an excellent way to celebrate the return of a new year. You can keep them indoors for 7-10 days, and then plant them as soon as the ground is ready (soft enough to dig). If you’re going to bring the tree indoors be sure to keep it cool and moist (but not soggy); watering with ice cubes works well. Take the tree back outside as soon as possible.
If it’s not the right time to plant your tree, just keep it somewhere outside where it gets a little light, but is protected from the wind. Protect the root ball by packing leaves or old hay bales around the base of the tree. (Placing the tree on the leeward side of the house helps too).
When you plant your tree, be sure to prepare the soil wider and deeper than the rootball will reach. Mix in compost to lighten and nurture the soil, and plant your tree just a little high in the hole so that as it settles, it doesn’t sink into the earth. (And remember: NO MULCH VOLCANOS).
The first year of your new tree’s life is critical: be sure to keep your tree regularly watered (but not waterlogged) through the dry months. Your young tree needs to establish a new root system before it can withstand drought on its own.
Fertilize and mulch your tree in the autumn when the water requirements are not as intense and your tree is focused on root development. This will help it grow strong healthy buds for the next spring, and remind you for another year of the return of the sun and warm season after the long, cold winter.
For other ideas about Christmas trees, check out my earlier articles:
I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas (Garden Rant)