Living Christmas Memories

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 by Jenny Watts
    • Plant Paperwhite narcissus in pots this weekend for holiday gifts.
    • Don’t overwater your houseplants in the winter. Empty saucers after watering.
    • Spring bulbs can still be planted now. They make lovely gifts for friends and relatives.
    • Wild bird feeders will attract migrating birds so you can enjoy the pleasure of their company.

Living Christmas Trees

If you celebrate Christmas, you’ll undoubtedly have some form of decorated tree. If you buy a living potted evergreen tree this year, rather than a cut or artificial one, you can plant it outdoors after the holidays. This way you can enjoy it for years to come.

Some of the biggest advantages of using living Christmas trees are the lessening of fire hazard, their future use in the landscape and the fact that they may often be used for more than one year as a living Christmas tree in the home.

These trees offer year-round beauty when planted in the landscape and can be decorated outdoors for many years to come. They also become a yearly source for cut greens to make wreaths and other decorations for the holiday season.

Colorado Blue Spruce are the most popular living Christmas tree. It has very stiff, horizontal branches that easily hold up the ornaments. Foliage varies in seedling trees from dark green through all shades of blue green to steel blue. It makes a fine landscape tree in our area, with branches that grow all the way to the ground.

True fir trees also are beautiful, perfectly shaped trees. The Grand fir has lustrous dark green needles borne that are very fragrant. It grows in a perfectly pyramidal shape and is native to North America.

Douglas fir trees are well known, especially for their fragrant foliage. They are native to this region and are quite fast-growing, so they can only stay in the container for a year or two. Other trees that can be used as Christmas trees include pines, Deodar cedars, Coast redwoods and giant sequoias.

When you bring your tree home, keep your tree outside in a shady spot out of direct wind, or inside an unheated garage. The trick to keeping it alive is not to break its dormancy with too much heat, and to avoid extreme temperature changes. Water every two to three days, but don’t allow the root container to sit in water as roots will rot.

          Indoors, choose a spot away from wood stoves, fireplaces, heating vents, and drafts.  A cool room is best, perhaps 65 to 68 degrees in the day, less at night.

When you bring your living tree into the house, leave it there for no more than two weeks. Water it slowly and thoroughly by dumping two trays of ice cubes onto its soil surface every day.

Decorate your tree with small, cool bulbs — flashing bulbs are best of all. Don’t use tinsel as it’s too hard to get off. You can use strings of popcorn or madrone berries which the birds will enjoy when you move the tree back outdoors.

With care and planning, your Christmas tree will serve as a living memory for many years.