GIMME SHELTER- Christmas tree live! Nature's best tw0-for one deal

Norm Carlson
Snow's Garden Center

Q: I'm thinking of getting a live Christmas tree this year. Any tips on buying one, putting it up, and caring for it?

A: There are a lot of good reasons to choose a live tree instead of cutting one down or buying one that's been cut. Of course, many people do it for environmental reasons, not wanting to harvest trees simply to throw them away. But a live tree can also commemorate a special Christmas or "spruce" up your yard. Since you can plant these trees after the holidays, it's kind of a two-for-one deal for those who choose to go the live tree route.  

A wide variety of live trees are available at select home and garden centers, including White Pines, Hemlocks, Leyland Spruces, and Colorado Blue Spruces, to name just a few. In fact, some people even choose to use Dogwoods as their Christmas trees.

The bigger trees come with their root balls wrapped, while smaller ones are usually potted. Simply wrap the root ball in a trash-bag and put it in a plastic tub or one of those galvanized steel tubs. Then prop the tree up with bricks or rocks. Remember to water the tree like a house plant. People often make the mistake of allowing the tree to sit in water, which can lead to root death. Just make sure the root bulb remains damp. 

If you're going to re-plant your tree outside, make sure you do it as soon as possible after the holidays, as the tree can dry out if it's kept inside too long. Ideally, you should keep the tree inside for no longer than a week to 10 days. If you buy your live tree ahead of time, just leave it in the burlap outside or on the porch until it's closer to Christmas. We also recommend that people pre-dig the hole for the tree while it's still relatively warm in case a sudden freeze happens at the end of the year.

If your live tree is young enough, you can even dig it up next year and use it as a Christmas tree again. Just make sure you're gentle with its root system.
Norm Carlson