Live Christmas tree needs a home after the holidays
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It's a heavy topic: Bringing a tree with an intact root ball indoors for the holidays.
We buy a tree for the holidays that we can plant
But this is our sixth or seventh year and we're running out of
places to plan them. Are there parks or farms somewhere that would
like these trees, for reforestation? - M.C. -
Right: Once a live evergreen
adjusts to a warm environment, it will take it a week or more in
mild cold to reacquire the hardiness it needs to make it through
the winter. Cold, but not freezing, temperatures will prompt it to
withdraw water from its cells. The cells will be saltier and thus
have a lower freezing point. If your live tree was indoors more
than a week, it may have been coaxed into breaking bud -- beginning
to leaf out. Then you may have to find a place such as a cool
greenhouse where it can remain through winter, or simply give up
the plan to plant it and grow it on.
Been there, done that! After many years of tree placement, some
of our friends drop into defensive stance and answer very guardedly
if we mention having a tree in need of a home!
You can certainly check with park managers near you. Don't get
your hopes up, however. Winter doesn't offer much good planting
weather, large transplants that should have regular watering aren't
a great fit into natural areas with no irrigation, and park
management may be understandably reluctant to undertake
administering such a program.
We had balled-and-burlapped trees for our holiday season many
times and still recall the strain of muscling such a heavy thing
into the house. We can't imagine carrying one cross country through
winter snow or mud, following a park service map to a field in need
Star - hedge - star possibility
Why not grow them for five or six years and then let each one do
holiday service once more as a cut tree? Young conifers make a good
hedge, becoming less effective with age as they develop increasing
space between branches or lose lower limbs. You could have the best
from the plants by creating a hedge from which one tree is removed
and replaced each year.
Keep a live tree plant-able through the holidays.
- Dig the hole before the ground freezes.
- Stash bags or buckets of soil in a basement or another place
that doesn't freeze, so you will have workable backfill for a
- Bring the tree in for just a few days; a week, tops.
- Slip a heavy duty plastic bag around the root ball so you can
keep the tree moist.
- When you return the tree to the outdoors, give it time to
gradually re-acquire hardiness. Place it for a week or two in the
shelter of an unheated garage or shed, or on the north side of a
building with bagged leaves tucked all around it.
- Begin watering the tree regularly at the first late winter
- Keep the root zone moist for as many years as inches in trunk
diameter at planting time. (Two years for a tree with a two-inch