Replanting Christmas Trees

By replanting Christmas trees, you can establish a living tradition that will endure for generations.

| November/December 1981

In the restful aftermath of the holidays that sets in toward the end of December, a person can walk through just about any neighborhood and see dozens of bedraggled "used" Christmas trees dumped beside the road to await trash collectors. A custom that was originally meant to provide a reminder of the sleeping promise of spring in the dead of winter has now become yet another symbol of our throw-away society.

However, you can avoid such waste by purchasing a living tree, one with its roots intact in a burlap-wrapped ball of earth. Live evergreens not only remain beautiful throughout the festive season (unlike cut Christmas trees, which tend to dry out rapidly), but can be replanted once they've served their holiday function. By replanting Christmas trees, you'll create a permanent, living reminder of one of the year's most joyful family occasions and improve the value of your property, establish a new windbreak, or provide some welcome summer shade in the process.

If the transplant is to be successful, though, certain guidelines will have to be followed. These "rules" start to come into play as soon as you visit the Christmas tree lot or nursery. Most horticulturists agree that fir, spruce, and pine are all good candidates for post-holiday planting. Actually, almost any variety of tree except hemlocks—as long as its roots are wrapped in burlap—will adapt well to transplantation.

Choose a healthy specimen with long, full branches and a large earth ball that's not frozen. Expect to pay $35 to $40 (or more in large cities) for a four- or five-foot tree. Once you've brought home your handsome selection, you'll need to "break it in" by leaving it in a cool, slightly damp area (such as a garage or basement) for three or four days to lessen the shock of the transition from outdoors to in. During this interim period, keep the root ball covered with straw, peat moss, or an old blanket.

When you carry the tree indoors, stand it in a large washtub (or similar container) and pack sawdust, peat moss, or even shredded newspapers around the trunk to help hold it upright. An old cloth draped over the earth ball will help the roots retain moisture. (To hide the tub and its contents, simply drape a decorative tree skirt over and around it.)

Most gardening authorities advise that you keep your living evergreen in the house for only a week to ten days, and certainly no more than two weeks. Try to place it near a window and away from the warm, dry air escaping from heat vents, fireplaces, and woodstoves. Most of the plant's roots will be close to the top of the earth ball, so be sure to keep that area moist at all times. An average-sized tree will require about one quart of water a day while it's indoors. You can trim a live evergreen with any sort of decorations you'd like, but you might want to use electric lights sparingly, since the heat generated by even tiny bulbs will tend to dry out a conifer's needles.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: September 14-16, 2018
Seven Springs, PA

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard