Enjoying the fragrance and presence of a living holiday tree requires daily attention. This guide is about caring for a live Christmas tree.
Hardiness Zone: 6a
Christi from Paducah, KY
The care of your mini Christmas tree depends on what type of tree it is. Most traditional evergreens grown and sold as potted Christmas trees have about a 50/50 chance of surviving, and that is if they are transplanted outdoors after only 7-10 days spent indoors. The exception to this is the Norfolk Pine, which is often kept indoors as a houseplant after the holidays. For more information on caring for a Norfolk, take a look at this post www.thriftyfun.com/tf47893507.tip.html
If your mini Christmas tree is a traditional evergreen, plan on planting it outside as soon as temperatures warm up. In the meantime, try to keep the roots moist (not wet) to prevent them from drying out. Keep your tree in a bright, cool room out of the way of drafts. Before moving outside permanently, let it adjust to conditions outdoors by setting it outside for a few hours each day, gradually increasing the amount of time it spends outside. Make sure you plant it in well-drained soil. Evergreens don't generally like wet feet.
You might want to find out what kind of a conifer it is. My husband and I got a mini Christmas tree ten years ago and it is now 9 feet tall and 15 feet wide ... a very strange looking, spreading pine tree, to say the least. It looks like a very large pine bush.
Several types of insects are fond of over-wintering in conifers, including certain types of aphids, spider mites, sow bugs, beetles, earwigs, praying mantids, spiders, and even earthworms. They don't normally cause any damage (e.g. spread to your houseplants), because let's face it, the interior of your house isn't exactly the coniferous forest habitat they need to survive. Most will die after thawing out and waking up, and the remaining bugs are usually nothing more than a nuisance.
According to the North Carolina State University Christmas Tree website, the chances of you buying a buggy trees is actually rare. In fact, only about one tree in 100,000 will have any of the above bugs in it when you buy it. The odds are best when temperatures are mild around the time the trees are harvested. Despite the fact that buggy trees are a relatively rare occurrence, it does happen. Therefore, unless you are willing to risk having bugs crawling over your presents or potentially starting the New Year with hundreds of mantid eggs hatching in your living room, you'll want to inspect your tree carefully to minimize the chances of bringing bugs indoors.
A living Christmas tree is ecological, practical and saves you money year after year. You can enjoy it year round on your balcony or in your garden.
Make sure the tree is small enough to fit in your house and either buy it potted or find a planter to fit it. If you pot it yourself, use a fast draining potting soil or mix your own with river sand, garden soil, and compost in equal parts. Leave about 6 inches of space above the soil. If you can find a tray with casters all the better for moving it around for years to come.
You can keep your tree outside until a few weeks before Christmas, then bring it in a slightly warmer area (porch or garage) so it has some time to acclimate to the warmer temperature of the house. In a few days, bring it into the house.
When you decorate the tree, make sure you use LED lights so there won't be too much heat on the tree. You can keep your tree inside for up to 2 weeks.
If you live in a cold climate, make sure you give it a little time in the garage or in a slightly warmer location so that the soil will thaw before you move it in. Also when taking it back outside, give it some time in the same place to adjust to the cold, then in a sheltered location before moving it back to it's normal location.
Plastic sheeting will prevent carpet and floor damage. Keep it watered with ice cubes (about 2 trays daily) on the surface of the soil.
In the spring, you can prune half the new growth to maintain its shape and increase its bushiness. Every few years, repot the tree with new soil in the spring before new growth begins. Slide it out of the container and shave off 1 inch of the root ball, using an old kitchen knife. Repot and add fresh soil and water well.