The purchase of a living Christmas tree (instead of a fresh-cut tree) is a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday season and provide an addition to your landscape! Living Christmas trees take some special care, but they are well worth the effort.

Living Tree Selection

Since it will be planted in your garden after the holidays, your tree should be of a suitable size when mature and able to thrive in the available conditions. Although the Noble Fir is a favorite fresh-cut tree, it prefers to grow at higher elevations and does not thrive in the Willamette Valley. The Douglas Fir is another popular fresh-cut choice, but is a fast grower that can reach heights of 40–60+ feet. Therefore, smaller or slower-growing trees may be more appropriate for average home gardens:

  • Cryptomeria ‘Black Dragon’: Makes a beautiful evergreen specimen tree, slowly growing to about 10’ tall and wide.
  • Picea glauca ‘Fastigiata’: Small, narrow form of Blue Spruce maturing to about 15–20’ tall and 5’ wide.
  • Pinus strobus ‘Louie’: Vibrant yellow growth in spring, holding bright color year-round with long, thin, golden needles; grows to about 20’ tall and 15’ wide at a rate of a little more than a foot per year.
  • Junipeus torulosa (Hollywood Juniper): Makes a lovely specimen for a sunny, dry landscape; grows at a moderate pace to about 10–15’ tall and 4–6’ wide.
  • Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Jade Waves’: Great for areas with filtered sunlight or shade, this tree has a gracefully narrow, upright habit growing to about 6–12’ tall.
  • Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’): If you prefer to keep your tree growing in a container, consider a dwarf conifer. This one keeps a natural, classic Christmas tree shape while slowly growing to about 6–8’ tall by 4–5’ wide.

How long can I keep my living tree indoors?

Keep your tree inside for no more than 7 to 10 days, especially if your home is kept very warm.
To enjoy longer, display it on a porch or balcony and decorate your tree with weather-proof ornaments and lights!

Where should I place the tree inside?

Before bringing the tree inside, move it to a garage or cooler room for a few days to help acclimate it to warmer temperatures and less light. Spray with an anti-transpirant like Moisture Loc or Wilt Stop before bringing inside; allow to dry completely. Place your tree in bright light, and keep the curtains open during the day. Avoid placing the tree close to a fireplace or heat vent.

What about watering?

Water thoroughly; keep roots moist, but not wet—never allow your tree to sit in standing water. For easy watering, place a tray of ice cubes on top of the soil every other day or more often for larger trees. Place the plastic grower’s pot into a decorative container or wrap it with paper or burlap. Be sure to allow for drainage—use a tray for excess water. Additional surface protection may be necessary for wood floors and furniture.

Can I decorate the tree?

Of course! LED lights are recommended since they are cool-burning and won’t dry out the foliage. Lightweight ornaments are best to use so they don’t bend or break the branches.

Does my tree need any special care after Christmas?

After its time inside, remove all decorations and take the tree outdoors to hose it off with a fine mist spray. If temperature is below 32°F, take the tree back into a cool room or garage for a few days before moving outside for a more gradual transition. If weather is warm enough for planting, plant your tree! If you prefer to wait until spring to plant your tree, be sure to keep it well watered through winter.

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