Replanting Your Live Christmas Tree

Replanting Your Live Christmas Tree

 

HOW TO OVERCOME HOLIDAY ARBOR GUILT:

Does it bother you that your cut Christmas tree has such a short life, decorated only for a moment but then discarded and trashed after the holidays?  There might also be a lot of time involved to find a proper (and legal) disposal area for a cut tree.   If instead, you want to purchase a tree you can replant in your yard with family after its short indoor use, it takes some commitment but it can also provide ongoing reminders for that celebrated holiday—something you all did together, an eco-friendly memento as it were.

Live Christmas Trees | Tips for Replanting Outdoors | ACT TWO

Jody Lovelace, owner of Pine Valley Nursery in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, notes that fewer people seem to be purchasing a live Christmas tree.  “I have seen a decline in folks using live trees,” he said, “and what I have discovered is most people say they are too much trouble to handle.”

Considering the climate in your area, you might want to ponder how difficult it is to dig a hole in frozen dirt in January.  Tree size is an issue too.  If yours is very tall and wide, you’ll need a cart and several people to maneuver it into position.  And this can be backbreaking work.  It will certainly take some planning.

Without the roots, the tree is much lighter, but with the roots still intact you’ll need to be very careful about lifting it out of your car or truck at home, wheeling it into your living room, unloading it without hurting yourself, then doing the same all over again when you decide to replant it.  Just remember, with the roots, the tree is twice as heavy and even more cumbersome.

So, if you are up for it, you can get a little extra heavy-lifting exercise and see the very tree that stood in your living room for a month suddenly transplanted into your yard, giving you the satisfaction that one more Christmas tree was spared.  It becomes a different kind of personal symbol, one of effort and beautiful holiday memory. 

Tips for Replanting Your Christmas Tree the Right Way

ACT TWO was curious about this process, so we sat down in an interview with Jody Lovelace of Pine Valley Nursery in Spruce Pine, North Carolina.  Here, he offers best practices for not only replanting live trees but taking care of them while in use during the holidays:

Digging the Hole

Live Christmas Trees | Tips for Replanting Outdoors | ACT TWOFirst, do some research and determine if the species of the tree you want will tolerate your site conditions in terms of soil composition, slope and elevation.

If these conditions fit, pick a spot where the tree can grow without invasion from other trees or plants and avoid shady areas.

Once you have chosen the spot, dig the hole roughly twice the size and depth of the root ball.  Fill the hole in halfway and compact the soil.

If you live in an area where you have freezing temperatures, prepare the hole in advance or during a time when the ground is not frozen. 

You can manipulate the soil condition somewhat with potting soil or other composted soil material and may need to do so especially if the soil contains a fairly good amount of clay.

Choosing the TreeReplant Your Christmas Tree | Tips for Replanting | ACT TWO

The easiest way to pick a tree is use your common sense: if it looks good and healthy, it probably is. 

Make sure the root ball is solid and shaped well.

The root ball will dry, so ask the retailer if the tree has been watered and, if so, how recently.

You may also want to ask if the species is known to thrive in your area.

 

Transporting the Tree and Setting Up in the House

Replant Your Christmas Tree | Tips for Replanting | ACT TWOTransport the live Christmas tree via pickup truck.

If possible, use a hand truck to roll the tree in and out of the dwelling.

If you do not have a hand truck, borrow a set from the neighbors or even borrow the neighbor to help you move the tree if you have no help.

Pick a spot for display that is away from a direct heat source if possible.

Use a small washtub, wooden planter or even a tire with plastic underneath to display the tree.  Keep in mind that the container must be waterproof to avoid ruining your flooring.

Cover the ball with a typical tree skirt.

 

Replant Your Christmas Tree | Tips for Replanting | ACT TWOTaking Care of the Tree Indoors

Add water once you get it on display.

Use ice water the first time to help keep the roots dormant.  Sometimes, when you add warmth, sunlight and water, the tree can be manipulated into growth.

Water the tree similar to how you would indoor plants; humidity or lack thereof should determine the frequency.  But no more than a half-gallon per week inside.

Do not let the tree stand in water like you would with a cut tree.  Excessive moisture can cause the roots to deteriorate.  Be careful with the amount of water you use.

Moving the Tree Outside after the Holidays

When you are ready to move the tree out of the house and if you have a cool transitional area such as a garage or basement, put the tree there for a week or so before planting, depending upon outside conditions and if the ground is frozen.

Replant Your Christmas Tree | Tips for Replanting | ACT TWOIf the outside conditions are suitable, once you get the tree to the planting site:

  • split the cloth material along the bottom
  • place the tree in the hole no deeper than the top of the root ball
  • peel the cloth up and cut it away from the tree

Fill in around the ball taking care to insure adequate compaction to avoid air pockets.

Give the tree about a gallon or two of water and let it go.

Water the tree periodically once a week or so particularly if soil conditions are dry.

Do not plant the tree during times of severe freezing temperatures.

 

By Mark Damon Puckett

 

 

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