5 Most Commonly Asked Questions about Holiday Trees
1. Where should I place the holiday tree in my home?
Placement in the home should be away from any heat source such as a fireplace, wood stove, heat register, etc., that could dry out needles on the tree. A cooler room (55-60F) with bright light would be best for the tree, because it is an evergreen and does require light in order to remain healthy. Being an evergreen, in the presence of light, they continue to make food to sustain themselves. So, be sure and give it the best light possible.
2. How often should I water the holiday tree?
All of the holiday trees are drought tolerant by nature (especially if planted outdoors later), but indoors, you still need to check your holiday tree once every 1-2 weeks, depending on the temperature and humidity levels in the room. So, the important thing to remember is that your holiday tree does not like to be over-watered, but rather to be just kept moist, allowing the surface of the soil to slightly dry before re-watering. To check to see if your tree needs water, simply touch the soil surface or slightly poke your finger into the soil to test moisture content. If it feels dry, it is time to water, and if it feels moist, skip a few days and check it again. The rule of thumb is to begin with less water and then add more if needed, so start with 4 ounces (half cup) to 8 ounces (1 cup) of water, and then add more if required, until it feels moist. Also, they can be fertilized once per month with half-strength water-soluble fertilizer. The holiday tree would appreciate high humidity while in the home environment, so misting a few times a day would be beneficial.
3. There are some loose needles in the delivery box. Is my holiday tree "OK"?
When removing the tree from the box, the tree may leave some needles behind. This is a normal process on all evergreens and nothing to be concerned about. Evergreens will periodically shed older needles, usually a little at a time. During the shipping process, the movement will loosen the older needles all at once, rather than over time, making it more noticeable when you look in the bottom of the box. But again, not to worry, this is to be expected. Also, while the tree is being displayed during the holidays, you may or may not see a small amount of needle drop, which is just the normal tree process. On the other hand, if you see more than a small amount of needle drop, you would want to check the tree soil for the moisture content, as described above under “watering,” to be sure it is properly watered. Misting the tree with water a few times per day will also keep the tree healthy and reduce any possible needle drop, as mentioned above under "watering."
4. How do I hold my holiday tree for spring planting? The ground is frozen.
For those people that live in areas where the soil is frozen by the end of the holidays, we suggest the following to help hold and keep the holiday tree alive until spring planting. Basic recommendations would be to place the plant in an unheated sun room where the plant could get plenty of light, but would be allowed to go semi-dormant. If the home offers no suitable cool, bright location, it would be better to put the potted holiday tree outdoors. Being out in the cold, even freezing weather, is better for the health of the tree, than to stay in the house any longer. Place in a protected spot close to a house wall for added warmth. Wrap the pot in an insulating material to keep the soil warmer, and the soil should be kept moist but not wet. Water about once a month or so. If you know in advance of the tree's arrival, a planting hole could be pre-dug before it arrives. That way, the tree can be set it in the hole after the holidays, and it will make it through the winter just fine.
5. How should the holiday tree be planted outdoors after the holidays are over?
In cold winter climates, if you know in advance the tree is coming, you might want to consider pre-digging the planting hole before the ground freezes. When digging the hole, it is more important to dig it wider than it is deep. For 1-gallon-size holiday trees, dig the hole 12-18” wide and 8-12” deep. For 2-gallon-size holiday trees, dig the hole 18-24” wide and 10-12” deep. After the hole has been dug, fill the hole with mulch (which will be easy to remove later at planting time), and cover the excavated soil with a tarp for protection. Once the holidays are over and you want to plant the tree outdoors, place it in a garage or shed for a few days to adjust to the colder air before planting. While in the shed, you can place ice cubes on top of the rootball as needed to keep the roots barely moist and cool. After the tree has acclimated, you can plant the tree in the prepared hole mentioned earlier. Remove the mulch from the hole, slip the nursery pot off the tree rootball, and place in the hole so that the top of the rootball is level with the ground surface. Backfill the hole completely to the top with the excavated soil previously dug, and gently tamp down. Water deeply and mulch heavily. In harsh climates, evergreens are vulnerable to wind damage during their first winter. Protect them with a burlap screen, or spray liberally with an anti-desiccant product like Wilt-Pruf. If you cannot pre-dig a planting hole, it is not a problem, because you can follow the same basic planting instructions mentioned above at a later date.