Having a live tree requires extra effort, but the result can be rewarding.

A live tree makes a lovely indoor display, but it requires a little extra effort.

So, you want to have a live tree in your house for the holiday. It’s a lovely idea, but you need to commit to ensuring the tree’s survival after the tinsel is gone. A live tree cannot remain in the house for longer than a few days — any longer and the tree will break dormancy and is unlikely to survive. If you want an indoor tree that you can enjoy for a few weeks, choose a fresh-cut tree instead.

The key factors in choosing a live tree:

  • Keep the time indoors short
  • Be prepared for the tree’s move outdoors

Ideally, the tree is indoors for just two or three days. Be ready to move the tree outside as soon as you can after your celebration. The most important chore is to keep the root ball from freezing. If you plan ahead, you can dig the hole while the ground is not frozen. Save some dirt for back-fill and put it in a place that won’t freeze, such as a garage. If you’ve got a hole but no soil for back-fill, you can still move the tree into the hole and use bags of leaves or bark mulch to protect the root ball. Another option: buy several bags of soil and compost (unfrozen) from a garden center.

The goal is to protect the root ball from freezing — just as it is when it’s in the ground. It’s best to have a hole for your new tree; however, you can provide adequate protection by “planting” your tree (pot and all) in a mound of soil, straw and/or bulk mulch. When spring comes, you can move the tree to its final location.

Having a live tree requires a little extra effort, but the result can be a lasting addition to your landscape. For more detailed information, read Caring for a Live Christmas Tree.

-David Grist
Online Content Coordinator, Gardener’s Supply