Keeping Your Christmas Tree Fresh & Transplanting Your Tree

— Written By Taylor Campbell and last updated by
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One cherished Christmas tradition involves replanting a living Christmas tree into the landscape after the holiday season. These trees, typically purchased as containerized or “balled and burlapped” (B&B) trees, offer a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional cut trees. However, successful transplantation often eludes many, as factors like climate adaptation, tree size, and proper care play pivotal roles. Larger trees, often chosen for in-house display, can suffer from significant transplant shock, exacerbated by drying out indoors. A key challenge lies in ensuring the tree retains its winter hardiness during its time inside, as after just over a week, it may lose this crucial resilience, making it susceptible to freezing temperatures when replanted outdoors.

Selecting Your Tree:

Choosing the right species is paramount for a successful transition from festive living room centerpiece to a thriving landscape feature. In North Carolina, popular species like Fraser fir and white pine, while beloved as cut Christmas trees, may not be well-suited for outdoor transplantation due to issues like poor rooting habits or limited adaptability to lower elevations. Careful consideration of the tree’s natural habitat, including elevation and soil preferences, is crucial. Additionally, ensuring the tree is of an appropriate size—no larger than five to six feet—facilitates successful transplanting, with smaller root balls promoting better moisture uptake.

The journey from festive decoration to thriving landscape features requires meticulous care. Once selected, Christmas trees should be placed away from direct sunlight and heat sources in the home, and the use of low-temperature electric lights is recommended. Regular but not excessive watering is essential, with a focus on maintaining moisture without waterlogging the roots. Innovative techniques, such as periodically distributing crushed ice over the root ball, can aid in moisture retention. Timely transition from indoor display to outdoor planting is crucial, as extended exposure to indoor temperatures can disrupt the tree’s winter dormancy. When it comes to planting, preparation is key—tilling the soil, removing any non-natural coverings, and ensuring proper mulching and staking to protect against wind damage. Ongoing maintenance, including soil and pest management, is necessary for the tree to thrive in its new environment, providing a lasting reminder of the holiday season when it was first planted. With these considerations and proper care, living Christmas trees can seamlessly transition from festive decorations to cherished elements of the landscape, offering years of enjoyment.