A living Christmas tree needs a little extra care, but it’s worth it to ensure that it will be around for years to come.
Leave the tree outside or in a cold garage until you’re ready to decorate it – keeping in mind that a pine tree can stay inside only for about ten days.
Clean your tree before you bring it inside – brush off dead needles and spider webs and wipe off dust.
Place the tree in its pot on an impermeable shield – a plastic saucer like those you use for houseplants works well – to protect your floor, carpet, or table top.
Position the tree so that it’s not over a heating vent. If it absolutely has to be over a vent, close the vent for the duration of the tree’s stay inside. Don’t put it right up against a window where it’s going to get direct hot sun, or right in front of a fireplace or woodstove that’s in use.
Check the soil daily for dryness – it should stay damp but not wet, and it will need more water inside than it needs outside.
Unplug the lights at night and whenever you leave the house.
Try not to overheat the tree’s room.
Tips & Warnings
If you can do it without ruining your ornaments, misting the tree every few days will help it out.
No matter what kind of care you take, any tree will dry out eventually and begin to drop its needles. If your tree looks very unhappy, put it back outside.
Step 1: Choose a tree species that is well-suited to your planting site in terms of mature size and soil type.
Step 2: Position your tree at the planting site and dig the hole approximately 1.5′ bigger in diameter than the rootball of the tree. Do not dig the hole any deeper than overall height of the rootball. It is better to plant the tree a little too shallow than too deep.
Step 3: Roll the tree into the hole and position upright. The crown of the rootball should flush with the surrounding soil. If it is too low, place soil under the rootball while rocking the tree from one side to another. If it is too shallow, you must remove the tree to deepen the hole. Once the depth is adjusted, plumb the tree vertically and pack a small amount of soil at the base of the rootball to keep it upright.
Step 4: Cut the nylon rope that ties the basket together. Make cuts in several locations and remove the rope pieces. Untie the burlap from around the trunk. It is usually double-knotted. Be very careful to avoid injury from staples that are also used to hold the burlap in place! Open up the burlap on the top of the ball and fold it down the sides of the basket. The wire loops may also be folded down and out of the way. Do not remove the burlap or wire basket! The rootball will fall apart, breaking the little fiberous roots and almost certainly killing the tree.
Step 5: Gradually backfill the hole, packing the soil firmly with your heel as you fill in the hole. Do not fill the remainder of the hole and then simply pack the surface. It is important to pack the soil tightly as you re-fill the hole to avoid air-pockets that will cause the tree to dry out prematurely. Now is also a good time to mix in peat moss or fertilizer as recommended by the nursery. There will likely be soil remaining which can be used to create a natural water-retention pan around the tree. Do not place excessive soil around the truck of the tree. The top of the rootball should only be covered by an inch of soil. Add a layer of mulch for water retention and weed control.
Step 6: Cut the nylon rope the binds the branches of the tree. Gently fluff the branches back into their nature position and remove and tagging ribbon from the tree.
Step 7: Water the tree thoroughly to further pack the soil. Most trees should receive 5-10 gallons of water once per week. It is possible to both over-water and also under-water your tree. Watering requirements change with the season, soil type, and tree size, so ask the nursery for specific water requirements for your application. The nursery will also instruct you on how long you should continue to water your tree.