What to Do with a Christmas Tree After Christmas

What to Do with a Christmas Tree After Christmas

Christmas is one of the most festive times of the year. Decorations and the Christmas tree are the highlights of the season, but what can you do with a cut Christmas tree after Christmas?  More and more people are adding living trees and plants as an alternative to their holiday décor. 

Options for Cut Christmas Trees After the Holidays

If you choose to include a cut Christmas tree in your holiday décor, obviously there isn’t anything you can do to keep the tree alive when the holidays end. There are lots of ways you can still do something useful with your cut Christmas tree, including:

cut christmas tree options after holiday

  • Support a Local Non-Profit — Many non-profits offer Christmas tree pick-up services.  Use your tree to support these noble causes.
  • Mulch or Feed Your Gardens — Pine needles decompose slowly but dry quickly and make for a great additive to your mulch.  If you have access to a woodchipper, chip the whole tree and add the wood chips as nutrition for your soil in the spring.
  • Make Ornaments — Cut the end of the trunk of your Christmas tree to make ornaments you can then label or decorate to help remember all your previous Christmas seasons for years to come. 

Consider a Live Tabletop Christmas Tree

There is no doubt that cut trees and flowers can significantly add to the holiday look and feel, but they won’t live on after Christmas is over. As an alternative, you could consider a live tabletop tree that will last well beyond the Christmas season. Our favorite live tabletop Christmas trees are gaining popularity for several reasons, including:

  • Sustainability — Many people are becoming increasingly concerned about sustainability and not cutting down trees for one-time use. 
  • Transferability — A living tree can often be planted in the landscape after the holidays and provide a wildlife habitat, a windbreak and shade.
  • Compact — A living tabletop Christmas tree fits well in small spaces like an apartment or smaller home.
  • Something for the Kids — A living tabletop tree is perfect for a child’s bedroom and can be personalized to their favorite theme.
  • Fill the House with Christmas — A tabletop tree gives a homeowner the ability to decorate every room with its own tree during the holidays.
  • Something for Elderly Parents — Living tabletop trees are perfect for the nursing home resident to help bring some Christmas cheer.

The first decision to make is how you want to save your living tabletop tree. You may want to keep the tree potted and use it for the coming holidays. It will grow larger each Christmas, but it should be manageable in size and weight for at least a few years. 

potting vs planting tabletop trees

The other option is to use your tree in the landscape. This requires removing the tree from its pot and planting it outside in a permanent location. Tips that will help you to enjoy your tree for years to come include:

Potting Your Living Tabletop Tree

If you would like, you could continue growing your tree in a pot and reuse it the next holiday season. When the holidays are over, relocate your tree to a cool sheltered location. If your climate is moderate in the winter, you could move the tree in its container to the location where you want your plant to live until the next holiday season. Water the tree and mulch it well.

If you live in a colder climate where the ground is frozen, you may want to keep the potted tree sheltered indoors and move it out in the yard in the spring.

As your tree grows, it will need to be repotted into a larger container. Remove the tree from its current pot. You can use a sharp knife to trim back the roots on the sides and bottom of the root ball. Repot your tree into a slightly larger pot with good soil added to the bottom and around the sides. Add mulch to cover the soil and hold in the moisture.

Adding Your Living Tabletop Tree to the Landscape

Keep your tree in a cool place until you are ready to bring it indoors for the holidays. A covered porch or an unheated garage is ideal. Return the tree to this area when the season is over. Let the tree return to dormancy in your cool space. This can take up to two weeks. 

If you live in an area where the ground has remained unfrozen, you can plant the tree outdoors. Ideally, you have already selected the location for your tree in the landscape. You can even dig the hole ahead of time and have it ready for your tree. Place your tree in the hole and backfill with soil and then cover the soil with several inches of mulch and water your tree. Wait until the spring to fertilize the tree.

If the ground is frozen outside, you will have to wait until spring to plant your tree. Keep your tree in the sheltered location where it will be exposed to the sun but sheltered from the cold. If you live in an area where the climate is severe and the tree is exposed to sub-zero temperatures, you may need to add additional insulation to the root ball until the tree can be planted.

Other Types of Tabletop Christmas Trees to Consider

Obviously, the classic Christmas tree is usually a variety of fir, pine or spruce.  For tabletop trees, there are several other alternatives you could consider that will last well beyond the Christmas season, including:

Norfolk Island Pine

Norfolk Island Pine trees are a tropical plant that will die in temperatures of 35 degrees or less. These plants are gaining popularity as a tabletop Christmas tree.  While many people discard their tree once the holiday is over, the Norfolk Island Pine makes for a very easy-care houseplant that can live for years indoors.

norfolk island pine closeup

This variety of tree tends to dry out between watering. Check the soil and be sure it is dry before you water again. Never allow the plant to sit in standing water. Always allow excess water to drain out of the pot and then discard the water. While this plant doesn’t like to be overwatered, it does like humidity. 

Provide the humidity by placing the plant on a pebble filled tray with water. That way, the plant roots are not standing in water, but it will enjoy the higher humidity the tray provides. Another solution is to mist your plant regularly. 

Norfolk pines have a dormant period in the winter when they will stop growing. You will know they are out of dormancy when the tree starts putting on new growth at the ends of the branches. You can’t miss it because the needles are a vibrant but lighter green than the mature growth. This is a good time to start routine fertilizing with a half strength fertilizer.

Rosemary Tree

Rosemary is one of the most popular culinary herbs. What could be more perfect than a rosemary plant pruned to the shape of a Christmas tree in your kitchen? Not only does it look festive, but it smells and tastes delicious now and for years to come. 

rosemary tree

Rosemary is a Mediterranean plant that likes lots of warm sun and can’t tolerate much cold. In the winter, put your rosemary tree in a sunny location without any cold drafts. Make sure your pot has drainage holes to release excess water. Do not water until the soil feels dry in the top two inches. Then, water thoroughly allowing the excess water to drain away. 

Never allow the plant to stand in water as it will rot. Overwatering is the most frequent cause of a rosemary plant’s death. You probably won’t need to fertilize your rosemary, but if the leaves are a lighter green than normal or the plant seems stunted, use a half strength fertilizer.

Once spring arrives, you can just plant your rosemary outdoors in the herb garden or even continue to grow it in a container. Just remember to bring your plant back indoors before the first killing frost. 

General Guidelines for Indoor Living Trees

No matter what type of tree you buy for Christmas, there are a few things to remember when purchasing a living tree you intend to use indoors, including:

indoor living tree guidelines

  • Limit Indoor Time — Most trees should only be kept indoors for seven to 10 days. The exception is if you decide to buy a Norfolk Island Pine or a Rosemary plant, as both of these selections are plants that will do well indoors and can be grown inside year-round. 
  • Water Management — Living trees will require watering to keep the soil moist but not soggy. One trick is to use ice cubes on the soil surface. These will melt gradually allowing the plant soil to absorb the water. Make sure there are drainage holes in the grow pot and use a saucer under the plant or put the grow pot into a decorative planter. 
  • Size Matters — A living tree can be larger than tabletop size. There are living trees available as large as six feet tall, but the problem is weight. The bigger the tree, the bigger the root ball. It will require some serious planning to move a tree that size and weight indoors and certainly will limit the location of your tree. Larger trees are also much more difficult to keep alive indoors, making the tabletop tree the ideal size.
Add Cheer with Miniature Christmas Trees Today

Add Amaryllis as the Perfect Christmas Accent

Looking for another Christmas plant that can grow with your living miniature Christmas trees and you can keep after the season’s over? Consider amaryllis bulbs. These huge blossoms are showstoppers in your Christmas holiday displays and make a great gift for friends and family or to gift to the host of a holiday gathering. The flowers come in bright red, deep burgundy red, white, orange and pink. 

There are also amaryllis of red with white borders, white with red borders and pink with a white stripe. For an even more exotic amaryllis, check out the Papilio amaryllis with its stripes of reddish-purple. With all these color choices, this flower can fit into any Christmas decorating color theme. 

Planting and Caring for Your Amaryllis Flowers

With a few easy steps, amaryllis plants can be maintained and encouraged to bloom each year. 

beautiful red amaryllis flowers christmas

  • Planting — Your beautiful amaryllis bulb should be planted in a growing pot that fits into the decorative container you’ve chosen. Place the plant in a sunny location.
  • Watering — Add water regularly to the soil so that it is moist but not soggy. When your amaryllis arrives, it will be in the first stages of growth, and it will soon send up the flower stalks. Continue watering while the plant is actively growing. Your amaryllis will flower longer if you move it into a cool location at night. 
  • Turning and Supporting — Don’t forget to turn your amaryllis at least once a day so it doesn’t start to lean toward the light. A support stake will also prevent the plant from leaning.  
  • Cutting — After the flowers stop blooming and begin to wither, cut the flower stalk to about one to two inches above the bulb. Do not cut the leaves as they are necessary for the plant bulb to grow and receive the nutrients it needs to rebloom. 
  • Fertilizing — If you choose to fertilize your amaryllis, use a regular houseplant fertilizer at half strength. 
  • Storing — When the leaves start to wither, stop watering, remove the dead leaves and store your bulbs in a cool place. Preferably, the temperature should be between 45-55 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Replanting Indoors — Six to 12 weeks before you want your plant to bloom again, return the bulbs to a room temperature spot and begin watering. Start with a light watering until you see the first shoots emerge from the bulb. Then, increase so that the soil is moist but not soggy.
  • Replanting Outside — If you are lucky enough to live in grow zones 8-11, you can transplant your amaryllis outdoors. In the spring, remove your bulbs from cool storage and plant them in a sunny or partly shaded location. In just a few weeks, your amaryllis bulb will be blooming as the star of the flower garden. Do not transplant the exotic amaryllis bulbs, such as Papilio, outdoors. These amaryllis should be kept as indoor houseplants everywhere.
Shop Every Color of Amaryllis Bulbs Today

There are plenty of options for what to do with your traditional cut Christmas tree when the holiday is over. As an alternative, living Christmas-themed tabletop trees and plants offer the benefit of not only adding to your décor, but can be kept alive and well for many years of enjoyment in your home or yard.

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