Selection and care of a live Christmas tree

Dear Garden Coach:

I am thinking about getting a living Christmas tree this year. Can you give me some guidance on selection and care?

– Jennifer Pyle, Livermore

Dear Jennifer:

Most live trees are happy in containers for a few years with proper care, which means keeping it watered, fertilized and in the right-sized container.

Alden Lane Nursery, located in your town of Livermore, suggests Colorado Blue Spruce or Dwarf Alberta Spruce for living trees, if you intend to plant it in your garden after the holiday.

Colorado Blue Spruce has a pyramidal shape with silvery-blue, short needles and strong limbs that can hold heavy ornaments.

The Dwarf Alberta Spruce has the classic pyramidal shape of a Christmas tree. It rarely exceeds 12 feet, which makes it a good choice if you want to plant it outside later as a foundation planting or a specimen tree.

When choosing your tree there are a few things to look for: A healthy tree will have needles that have good color throughout. There should not be bare spots in the interior, and the branches should be flexible, not brittle.

Another way to check on the health of the tree is to rub your hand along the branches of the tree. Evergreens naturally shed needles, so if the older needles near the trunk drop, that is OK. If the newer needles at the end of the branches fall off easily, it could indicate that the tree is diseased, has insect damage or is stressed from lack of water.

Check the root area to make sure it is moist. Also, look to see if the tree is root-bound, which means that the plant’s root system is overgrown for its pot. When this happens the roots begin to circle along the bottom of the plant and it needs to be in a bigger container.

Once home, the tree should be outdoors until a few days before Christmas, and it should not be indoors for much longer than a week.

Because it has been living outside, it will have to adjust to warmer and drier environment indoors. Water it well the day before you bring it in. Some nurseries recommend spraying the entire tree with an anti-wilt or anti-desiccant product such as Wilt-Pruf or Cloud Cover. This helps the tree retain moisture and reduces needle loss.

The best place for your tree in your home is a cool place with good natural light, if possible. Don’t place it

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

      

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