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Caring for Live Christmas Trees

Christmas trees
A live tree makes a lovely indoor display, but it requires a little extra effort.

Having a live evergreen tree allows you to enjoy it during the Christmas holiday and for many years thereafter. Here are a few steps you should follow to keep your tree healthy and thriving.

Steps to Success

1. Dig a hole in late October or early November. It should be at least 2 feet deep and 2 feet in diameter. Place the soil from the hole into a wheelbarrow and mix in peat moss, composted cow manure, and bone meal. Store this mixture in a place that won't freeze. Fill the hole with bags filled with leaves or straw so that the snow and ice will not accumulate.

2. Keep the tree mulched, shaded and moist until you bring it into the house.

3. Once it is inside the house, place the tree in a large bucket. The room should be kept as cool as possible (65 degrees F or less).

4. Water well! The entire root ball must be kept moist. Keep the tree in 4 inches of water at all times. Add ice cubes to keep the water cool.

5. Take the tree back outside as soon as possible. Evergreen trees must not be inside for more than seven days! Two or three days is preferable.

6. It's best to take the tree back outside on a mild day. Place it in the hole, keeping the top of the root ball level with the ground. Loosen the burlap around the top of the root ball and roll the burlap back a bit. For potted trees, simply remove the tree from the pot. Fill the hole halfway with the reserved soil mix and water well. Add the rest of the soil mix and tamp it down well. Then mulch around the tree.

7. On a mild day, spray the tree with an anti-dessicant, such as Wilt-Pruf. This keeps the needles from losing excessive moisture.

8. If a hole is not readily available for your tree, you should put the tree outdoors in a place well protected from wind and sun. Mulch the root ball heavily with straw or bark mulch. more

Last updated: 10/24/15