Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Great Christmas Tree Conundrum: Real or Fake? by Carol King

Heading Out for the Perfect Tree!
If you are considering a “real tree” for Christmas,  here are a couple of options when looking at fresh trees.

You can cut your Christmas tree at several U. S. Forest Service locations near the Front Range, provided you have a permit.  The USDA Forest Service web site has information on where and when to get a permit, cutting dates and times, tips on caring for your tree including a recipe for a fireproofing mixture, and other details. There are also Christmas tree farms along the Front Range that allow you to “cut your own.”

  Perhaps you would rather not make a day of it and instead want to stop by a tree lot or nursery on the way home from work. Here are a few simple steps that will ensure you get the freshest tree and keep it that way. When buying a fresh tree, check that the needles bend rather than break with gentle pressure; shake it carefully to look for needle loss; and check the cut end: it should be sticky with sap. If these conditions exist, buy your tree and take it home.

Whether you get your tree in the mountains or from a tree lot or farm, here are some tips from Plantalk Colorado on keeping it fresh.

      How about a potted tree that you can plant in the garden after the holiday?  Yes, you can plant trees in December.  Many nurseries offer live, potted Christmas trees including pinyon, ponderosa, limber, Austrian, bristlecone and Scotch pines.

These potted trees are usually sold when they are two to six feet tall. Be sure to consider the mature size of the tree, where it will be planted after Christmas, and the weight of the tree in the pot before purchasing.

The two most important factors for successfully growing a live potted tree are to not allow the rootball to dry out and avoid keeping the tree indoors too long. Seven days indoors is a maximum time recommended, but five days is better.

Pre-dig the planting hole, as the ground can be frozen in late December and early January. Store the soil backfill in the garage or outdoors in a black plastic bag so it is less likely to freeze.
You can keep the potted tree in the garage for a few days before bringing it indoors, but frequently check the rootball to ensure that it stays moist but not soggy. After Christmas, the tree can again be placed in the garage for a few days before planting outdoors. While indoors, decorate the tree with small lights, which generate less heat, and place it away from sources of heat like fireplaces, heat vents and television sets.

For a complete guide to the proper planting of trees, check here.  Happy Holidays!