Grit Blogs > Nature and Gardening at the Edge

O Christmas tree

I am actually ahead of schedule for holidays this year, having celebrated Thanksgiving early. I am thinking ahead to Christmas and a
Christmas tree and other traditions. A live tree in the house, or even some green garlands or a centerpiece give a wonderful scent. Somehow the scent of evergreens is so reminiscent of the forest that nature lovers find it irresistible. Of course all evergreens, even those cut from the forest fresh, are dead and sooner or later shed needles.

An appealing alternative seems to be the live tree that can be planted later. If you have space to add a tree, this seems ideal. Reading
the care of live trees in the winter, adds some real challenges to the ideal solution. Trees should only be kept inside for about a week and then stored in an unheated garage, barn or other building. Also root balls add significant weight. In my house, the tree and root ball would have to be taken up or downstairs to living space or perhaps displayed in the unheated garage. While living trees seem to be an ideal solution, there are challenges.

Of course, artificial trees are available for the practical, those allergic to greenery and those constricted by time. Many designs have
came and gone over the years and the “realistic” ones have improved though it is doubtful that anyone would mistake one for a real tree. Of course any scent has to be somehow added.

Another solution is to have a potted tree in the house year-round. Norfolk pines or similar trees that do not grow to large size can
be used this way. During the remainder of the year, the small tree is a part of the indoor plantscape and never planted out-of-door.

The after Christmas season always involves taking down the tree, which for a living balled tree or a cut tree involves some extra work. Cut trees from my house and sometimes relative’s homes go into a brush pile for wildlife habitat. The work of dragging the tree there is only complicated if there is deep snow. Keeping the tree there is more of the challenge. January winds have often brought the trees back to the house or other places where they are not wanted. Apparently the brush pile is good for wildlife and the tree is kept from the landfill. Of course this is not a solution for everyone and many trees go to landfills. Another solution offered in some communities is to donate trees to landscape operations so they can be chipped for mulch. Trees should never be burnt in a home fireplace. The dying needles and still present sap create sudden intense heat that can cause a home fire.

While it is tempting to keep a live balled tree indoors for an extended time after the holidays, nurseries caution against this as the tree
will respond to the warmth and begin to grow. For best success in planting, the advice from nurseries is to remove the tree after a maximum of a week and hold it in a cool place until the normal spring planting time. If you can be sure that the tree will be undecorated and removed promptly, can be cared for appropriately and planted in the spring, this is a good solution.  

Cut trees