"Living Christmas Trees Keep on Giving"
...as long as you take proper care of them!
Before I discuss the proper care of a Living Christmas Tree, I would like to clarify a misunderstanding. A Living Christmas Tree, is one that still has its roots attached within a container of soil. When the holidays are over, the tree can be planted outdoors. Not be confused with "Live Trees" which have been cut and no longer have a root system. Although the second type was alive at one time, once the roots have been cut off, well you get the idea, "it's dead."
Now, let's get back to caring for a Living Christmas Tree:
1) Select a variety of tree that you know will thrive in Las Vegas. Mondel or Aleppo Pines are excellent choices. Although, the Blue Spruce and Noble Fir make excellent holiday trees, once planted outside in our Las Vegas climate, there chances for success are minimal.
2) Make certain the tree, with its container of soil, will fit in the location to be used and you have the resources to move the tree. A 24" box filled with soil and a root mass can be quite heavy.
3) Decide on what you will be doing with the tree when the holidays are over, e.g., use it in your home landscape, donate it to a park or forestry department.
4) Water the tree thoroughly and allow it to drain before moving it indoors. Of course, the water will add even more weight.
5)Applying an anti-dessicant, this will slow down water loss and reduce needle drop.
6) Select a location away from fireplaces and heaters. If it is necessary to locate it near a heater vent, than direct the vent away from the tree or close it off entirely.
7) Make certain to have a saucer or plastic liner under the tree to catch any water that drains away from the soil.
8) Keep the soil moist by watering when necessary. Placing a quart of ice in the container is an easy way of watering. As the ice melts, the water will be slowly absorbed into the soil resulting in less runoff. (Do not use ice to water your house plants. Their roots are not tolerant of the cold water and it could injure the plant.)
9) As soon as the holidays are over, move the tree outdoors while waiting to be planted.
If you follow these easy steps, the tree should remain healthy and be in an acceptable condition for planting.
A final comment about a cut tree. At times I hear people say, "cutting trees for the holidays is hurting the environment and we are destroying a natural resource." Well, I would have to argue that point. It's not exactly true. The traditional cut Christmas tree is grown on a farm for one specific purpose. They are grown for a few years and then harvested for holiday use. Much like vegetables and other produce. The farmer then plants another tree in its place for a future crop. They are not removed from a rain forest or our National Parks. So, should you choose to use a cut tree, don't feel guilty about it. But, plan to dispose of it at one of the Christmas Tree Recycling locations around town. Those trees are chipped up and used for mulch rather than just filling up the landfills.
Most of you know that I'm a tree lover and I certainly encourage the use of living trees for the holidays, as long as it is kept healthy and put to good use afterward.
By Russ Thompson