Start a new tradition or celebrate an old one by having a living Christmas Tree this holiday season. Selecting a living Christmas tree requires a different set of criteria than when choosing a fresh-cut tree. Since it will ultimately be planted into your landscape or garden, your tree needs to be of a suitable size when mature and able to thrive in the available conditions. Although the Noble Fir tree is one of the most popular trees when cut, it prefers to grow at higher elevations and does not do well here in the Willamette Valley. The Douglas Fir, our state tree in Oregon, is another popular fresh-cut choice, but is a fast-grower that could reach heights of 40-60+ feet in your yard!

Smaller or slower-growing trees may be more appropriate for average home gardens—consider Cryptomeria, select spruce, pines, or hemlocks:

  • Cryptomeria ‘Black Dragon’ makes a beautiful evergreen specimen tree, slowly growing to about 10’ tall and wide at maturity.
  • Picea glauca ‘Fastigiata’ is a small, narrow form of Blue Spruce maturing to about 15-20’ tall and about 5’ wide.
  • Pinus strobus ‘Louie’ has vibrant yellow growth in spring and holds its bright color year-round with long, thin, golden needles. Louie 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 and grows at a moderate pace to about 10-15’ tall and 4-6’ wide.
  • For areas with more filtered sunlight or shade, Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Jade Waves’ has a gracefully narrow, upright habit growing to about 6-12’ tall.

If you are hoping to keep your tree growing in a container, consider a dwarf conifer or at least one that is very slow growing such as the Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’) which keeps a natural, classic Christmas tree shape while slowly growing to about 6-8’ tall by 4-5’ wide. In addition to Dwarf Alberta Spruce, our garden centers currently have a great selection of dwarf conifers.

Each location has a slightly different selection of live Christmas trees to choose from, so stop by soon to find the perfect one for you! For more information on caring for it over the holidays, read these tips below.

How long can I keep my living tree indoors?

We recommend keeping your tree inside for no longer than a week or ten days, especially if your home is kept very warm. A great way to enjoy your tree longer is to display it on your outdoor porch or balcony where you can see it through a window or glass door. It can be decorated with weather-proof ornaments and lights while outside.

Where should I place the tree inside?

Start by moving it to a cool room or garage for a few days before bringing it all the way inside to help acclimate it to warmer temperatures and less light. Before bringing it inside, spray it with an anti-transpirant such as Moisture Loc or Wilt Proof to help hold the moisture in the needles (allow spray to dry completely before moving). Make sure it has been thoroughly watered, but never allow the tree to remain in standing water. Place in bright light and keep curtains/shades open during the day. Avoid placing the tree close to a fireplace or heat vent since excess warmth can be harmful.

What about watering?

Keep the roots moist, but not wet. Be careful to not let it get too dry between waterings, but don’t allow it to sit in standing water either. The black plastic grower’s pot can be placed into a decorative container or wrapped with wrapping paper or burlap; allow for drainage and use a plastic tray underneath to catch excess water. An additional cork tray or other surface protection may be necessary with wood floors or furniture. An easy way to water is by using a tray of ice cubes every-other day or more often for larger trees; just place frozen cubes on top of soil and allow them to slowly melt.

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 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 water. If the temperature outside is below 32 degrees, take the tree back into the cool room or garage where you first kept it before moving it outside a few days later for a more gradual transition. If the weather is nice enough for you to be out planting, you can plant your tree, or if you prefer to wait until the return of spring, be sure to keep it well watered through the winter.