The Living Christmas Tree Thread


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The major retailers are already rolling out the Christmas decor in September this year - yeah, kinda premature. Seeing this though, it gave me an idea to go ahead and post this thread on a subject that is still fairly esoteric, as there isn't much documentation or literature that goes really in-depth on this DIY project; I wasn't quite sure whether this belonged in indoor plants or trees & shrubs - it kinda fits into both of those categories. Getting this discussion started now will give everyone interested plenty of time to study and share their knowledge. Does anyone use living, potted Christmas Trees instead of the more traditional (and wasteful) cut Christmas Trees? Some areas actually have rental services for living Christmas Trees; these will not be covered in this discussion thread because the companies mostly handle the care of the tree after all winter solstice festivities have concluded. I have a collection of articles dealing with the subject that I will be sharing here. One of the things that is almost never touched upon is the necessity of a humidifier or a hand mister to keep the foliage from drying out or sweating profusely in response to environmental stress. The 10-once retro mister by HAWS is the only dedicated plant misting bottle that I know of which is not made in the PRC. It is generally recommended to mist the tree by hand in the early morning around the crack of dawn, to avoid performing this ritual in direct sunlight, which can have the unintended consequence of burning the tree! Some people discourage doing this ritual at dusk or during the night, citing that it creates conditions that are favorable for fungus borne diseases to develop. I have a thread dedicated to misting fountains here. As a preventive measure against fungi spores in the air, it might be a good idea to have an air sterilizing appliance such as the Airfree Iris inside the room where the tree is going to be; although they are termed as "air purifiers" they are apparently something different; they don't actually remove the particles themselves from the air entirely, they just incinerate the particles -- not a true replacement for the conventional air purifiers with fans, more like an addition to them. Some air purifiers have built-in UV lights, but I'm unsure how effective those are against airborne fungi. There are even some next generation air purifiers that can apparently do both jobs: sterilizing and removing particles in the air ("PECO"), but they cost an arm and a leg. As for soil, potting mix should always be the choice, as other soils are too heavy; you can adjust to make the necessary amendments as needed. For added protection against harmful, soil borne fungi, I would personally recommend adding some horticultural grade cornmeal to the potting mix prior to placing the selected tree into the pot; maybe a little minced garlic in there too. In the way of vessels to contain the tree, your most reliable choices are either clay pots or fabric planters which will allow the tree to breath better. Although I have no personal experience using the fabric pots, they sound very practical; particularly the ones with carry handles on the sides. This spares able-bodied persons of the need to use a hand-truck or dolly to lug around a heavy, fragile clay pot. ASER Hydroponics and Smart Pots are two of the most reputable manufacturers in the industry. Remember to aggressively shear off the ends of any roots that show signs of being rootbound before potting the tree; always sanitize your bypass hand pruners with isopropryl alcohol and/or vinegar before cutting into the encircling roots. When decorating the tree, remember to only use modern LED Christmas lights, incandescent lights will burn the tree! The ornaments present a real challenge because they could be exposed to the mist of the spray bottle and become stained or ruined if left on the tree for an extended period, therefore it may be recommended to only leave the ornaments on during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - immediately removing them afterward; perhaps simply relocating them to another part of the room if one desires to continue to display the ornaments to retain the holiday atmosphere until New Years. Definitely take pictures of the tree while it's in its full finery! And lastly, as the Preserver, I encourage the use of tree species which are threatened or endangered in the wild as a form of ex situ conservation. You can try your first hand at a more commonly cultivated species that is proven to be tough (like a Norway Spruce or a Leyland Cypress) if you're not sure of the prowess of your green thumb. Some of these articles go as far as to say to only use trees that are native to your own region; not bad advice, but to follow that rule strictly would profoundly limit your choices. Naturally, I do encourage people to do their own research on the hardiness and adaptability of their proposed tree; for example, is the family wanting a Colorado Blue Spruce? This article from SFGate explains why you never see any Blue Spruce over a century old in the Southeast United States: their health eventually fails after years of exposure to warmer climates - they are not meant for that type of biome. In another article that I saw years ago on the subject, the blue spruce becomes particularly susceptible to a type of fungus after being stressed by heat after a certain point. If you live in a region rated under Zone 4 (Zone 5, 6, etc.), consider getting a more heat resistant species like the Serbian Spruce (Picea Omorika), or the visually similar Chihuahua Spruce (Picea Chihuahuana) if you're lucky enough to find a place that sells them. Get a species that is suited for your climate and/or native soil that has the potential to become naturalized, don't just buy a Pacific Silver Fir (Abies Amabilis) because it's a huge and awesome tree at maturity, it will most likely not do very well at all in a climate that is not exactly like the Pacific Northwest or the British Isles. Needless to say, it would be boneheaded to buy a Norfolk Island Pine and expect it to thrive anywhere outside of the tropics unless you intend for it to sit inside your house for its entire life. Choose your tree very carefully.

Links to the articles below:

How to Care for a Living Christmas Tree

Buying a Potted Christmas Tree This Year? Here's What to Know

How to Care for Your Living Christmas Tree

How to Care for a Living Christmas Tree
 
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NigelJ

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Why not save the hardwork and risk of bringing something from it's natural environment to an artificial one. Buy an artificial tree, this will last into your grandchildrens lifetime, works out cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Once you have an artificial tree you can have the best of both worlds a decorated tree in the front window for the neighbours to see and the real thing out back, full of life, for you to admire everyday of the year.
 
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Why not save the hardwork and risk of bringing something from it's natural environment to an artificial one. Buy an artificial tree, this will last into your grandchildrens lifetime, works out cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Once you have an artificial tree you can have the best of both worlds a decorated tree in the front window for the neighbours to see and the real thing out back, full of life, for you to admire everyday of the year.
Cheaper yes, but more environmentally friendly? That's a matter of opinion there. Personally, I don't anticipate anything dramatic like the Great Douglas Fir invasion of New Zealand being a likely occurrence in most places; that was a pretty exceptional chance event. Still, if you're content using trees that aren't real, then feel free to continue. You can do things your way, I'll do things mine.
 
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Wow, starting early. We don't get a Christmas tree anymore. Too much work. Some simple decorations and I am done. Or maybe a trip away at Christmas would be nice.
 
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There's something not quite right about misting a tree with water that carries an electric current for the lights. A risk of not only losing the pampered tree but our homes as well.

Like NigelJ it all seems a little like too much work to me. However, this isn't a problem for me as I don't celebrate Christmas and I'm quite happy with the six 60ft pines in my garden. :)
 
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My Christmas tree story - When my brother and I were young we “adopted” a man made lake behind our house. The lake was dead as far as any fish or plant life. We decided to collect people’s Christmas trees when they were done with them and put them out on the ice. We tied cement blocks to them so they would sink when the ice melted. During the summer we would catch fish in other lakes and bring them to our lake. The trees we sank gave the small fish a perfect place to hide. In a few years the lake was alive with fish and Lilly pads. Today it is a beautiful lake with weeping willows and maple trees ringing the shore.
 
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