Each year more people ask us about buying a living Christmas Tree with the intent of planting it after the holiday season in their yard or at a public park. Unfortunately, many trees die or are substantially weakened by being indoors during the holidays and soon die or never thrive after being planted. If you’ve failed before, there’s still hope. By selecting a tree suitable for growing in our climate and giving it some extra care while indoors, you should be on the road to success.
Some trees don’t hold well indoors, while others don’t do well when planted outside. The Monterey Pine is by far the most commonly used of all living Christmas trees. Its lush, green color and sheared fullness give it that “perfect” look. However, it’s at the top of the list for failure when planted outdoors. The tree has a short life span, and if it does survive it can become too large and is highly susceptible to demise from the local pine tip moth. The Aleppo Pine
makes an attractive tr
ee indoors, although paler and a little blue when compared to the Monterey Pine. If you decide on either of these two, insist on one grown totally within a container; not one dug up and placed in a container or one allowed to root heavily through the container into the ground and cut off.
The Stone Pine
, although it may be a little more difficult to find, makes a great outdoor tree. Smaller and denser than the Aleppo, it fits nicely into almost any landscape and survives with little care. The Canary Island Pine
, with its narrow upright pyramid shape and soft texture, , isn’t commonly grown as a Christmas tree, but can work. The Deodar Cedar,
also makes a wonderful landscape tree. This tree can become huge outdoors, but it’s absolutely gorgeous. All these pines, if container grown for a few years, can be enjoyed inside for the holidays and then outside in the yard where they will eventually thrive in the landscape.
The Star Pine or Norfolk Island Pine
, a common houseplant, would be another good choice. It’s stiff, bright green symmetrical branching make it a joy to decorate and it can be used annually as a Christmas tree while spending the remainder of the year in a well-lighted spot indoors. It is a tropical that suffers
from frost, but in our climate it can thrive outdoors especially on the coast and even become a dominant object in your yard.
Scotch Pines, common Cedars, Incense Cedars, Redwoods and Spruce are lovely trees, but they are almost certain to fail outside in our climate and our generally poor soil conditions.
Regardless of what type of tree you choose, the first step to successfully growing it outdoors is maintaining it indoors. The entire key to indoor care is moisture – not too much and not too little. Set the tree container into a large waterproof plastic or metal tub. When covered with a sheet or table cloth, the large container isn’t as obtrusive and it makes a great backstop to lean presents against. You can water your tree often and water can drain into the larger container without making a mess. Don’t allow the water container to have standing water deeper than ½ inch. If you need to, siphon excess water with a turkey baster.