Saturday, December 11, 2021


then grab the aspirin bottle?

I'm referring to the annual family event of Christmas tree shopping. The coverage I saw on various media was disheartening. Being a gardener, I am totally sympathetic to the tree growers and the price they need to charge, which probably doesn't even come close to the cost of production, let alone a small margin of profit.

In our early years of living in Central Oregon we did the traditional "thing". We got our cutting permit from the Forest Service and journeyed off over hill and dale to find the perfect tree. 

It wasn't exactly a Charley Brown tree. If you turned and twisted the tree enough, and then only looked at it straight-on it was great. We decorated it with pride and passion and patted ourselves on the back for being so environmentally conscientious.

 The following year the snow was deeper and the temperatures lower. We opted to do the next best thing  and bought a living tree of fair size from a local nursery.

 I'll confess that it did not go well. This was in the pre-home computer days and pre-Master Gardener classes to reference. We placed the pot in a large pan, watered it very well then draped the pot with a glitzy Christmas tree skirt. Again, we patted ourselves on the back for being so "environmental" buying a tree we could plant into the landscape come spring.

 It didn't occur to us that we would be doing damage by bringing a tree accustomed to the cold crisp winter days and placing it in our warm and cozy living room.

TIP: Transition a potted tree in an unheated garage for a few days before moving into a warm room.  

TIP: Watering. I overdid the first watering. Although we had placed the tree in a pan the overly generous amount of water resulted in the pan overflowing. With the pot being clothed in the glitzy tree skirt, the damage to the wood floor went unnoticed until we took the tree down.

TIP: The tree should be thoroughly watered while it is spending a few days in transition making sure it has drained well before bringing indoors. Placing a plastic covering under the pan is good insurance. Recently I read that using ice cubes on the soil is a slow and easy way to apply moisture during the indoors stay.

I think we committed every misstep in the book. We loved lots of lights and of course, they were the old bulb style.

TIP: Use miniature lights and only for a short period of time to avoid dehydrating the branches.

The final blow was that after being indoors in our less than ideal conditions for 2 weeks it started to look pretty sad and droopy and it was still a few more days till Santa arrived.

TIP: A living tree should not be inside for no more than a week to ten days.

The final confession is that the tree never made it into our landscape. We hadn't given any forethought to care after it left the living room. We transitioned it back to the garage to await spring planting. It looked pretty sad. 

THE LAST TIP: If you are having thoughts of a living tree--quick go outside and dig a planting hole before the ground is frozen solid. Cover the hole and the dug soil with a plastic cover so you don't have to wait for spring to plant. Do the transition procedure in reverse, making sure it has been watered and has drained. Plant at the same level it was in the pot. Treat it to fertilizer in the spring.

However you "tree",  enjoy the holiday season!

Mark your calendar for Gardening: Get Good at It's "Gifts for Gardeners" segment Tues. Dec. 21, on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am.

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