How to Choose and Care for a Living Christmas Tree

Here’s why you should choose a living Christmas tree that you can plant in your yard after the holiday season.


A living Christmas tree can make this year’s holiday season special for many, many years.

Selecting the family Christmas tree is an exciting holiday tradition. But instead of buying a cut tree this year, why not choose a living Christmas tree? A decorated living Christmas tree celebrates the holiday season—and then becomes a growing part of your landscape for years to come.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, the average retail price of a farm-grown holiday tree is approaching $100. Sure, a freshly cut holiday brings the delightful scent of a pine forest into your home. But for a few dollars more, you can buy a living Christmas tree. A living, container-grown tree can be purchased at local garden centers and some “big box” stores.


Evergreen trees create a windbreak


If strong north winds are a problem in your yard, now is a good time to start planting the first of that hedgerow of evergreens to break the wind. This is the fun way to get the job done. Each living Christmas tree will have its own special memories of past holidays while performing an energy-saving task.


How to Select Your Living Christmas Tree

Here’s how to choose and take care of a live Christmas tree:

Choose a tree that you can handle, since the dirt ball or pot will be heavy. (Don’t be like Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.)

Pick out the tree while the weather is good. That makes moving the heavy root ball easier.

Your living tree can only stay in the house for 7 to 10 days. So, plan for the time that the tree will be in the house and out.


Christmas gifts for gardeners


Living trees must be kept away from fireplaces, wood stoves and heating ducts. The tree is now dormant, and if you wake it up it will start to grow in the house. Then, once you take it back outside, the cold weather could hurt the new growth.

Keep the room cool and the root ball wet so the tree does not dry up.

To prevent damage to floor or carpet, place the root ball in a tub. A child’s flying saucer sled also works great.

Try to bring the tree inside when the outside temperature is no colder than 25 degrees below the inside temperature.

If you have a garage or barn, keep the tree there until you are ready to bring it indoors. If not, keep it as close as possible to the door for easy access during periods of heavy snow.

Festive mother and daughter decorating Christmas tree at home

When you are ready to bring the living Christmas tree indoors, place a scatter rug by the door and the container on it. The scatter rug will allow you to slide the tree along the floor without damage to the floor and it will save you extra lifting.

Do not fill the container with water–a quart at a time will do.

Use the new LED lights on the tree. These lights produce little to no heat, and that helps keep the tree dormant.

Mist the tree daily with water.


gingerbread christmas tree ornaments



Decorate your living Christmas tree with homemade ornaments or purchased ornaments.

Check out the great selection of Ornaments on Amazon for more decorating ideas.





Planting Your Christmas Tree

After the holidays, if the weather is stormy or very cold, place the tree in the garage or barn. If that is not possible, put it up against the house or fence to keep it out of direct sun and the wind. Cover the root ball with bark mulch, straw or soil until spring.

You can plant the tree in the yard if the weather is good, but you will have to dig the hole before the ground freezes. And you will have to bring the soil into the garage so it does not freeze.

planting a living Christmas tree in the backyard


It’s also a good idea to fill the hole with leaves in a trash bag. This will make the hole easier to find in the event of snow. Plus, you don’t want to fall into the hole! Most people simple wait until spring to plant their living Christmas tree. It’s much easier!

A living holiday tree is more work than the traditional cut tree. But you will not be sorry when you see the results. Plus, you will enjoy the tree for many, many years to come. And speaking of holiday decor, check out these 7 Expert Tips on How to Care for Poinsettias.


This story is courtesy of The Paul Parent Garden Club, a popular syndicated radio show.

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