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With special care, replanting live Christmas trees can enhance landscape for years


Robert E. Thomas
Information Specialist
University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group
Phone: 573-882-2480

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008

Story source:

Christopher J. Starbuck, 573-882-9630

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Replanting a live Christmas tree can enhance your landscape for years, but it will require some special attention, said a University of Missouri Extension horticulturist.

"Be sure to keep the tree outdoors as long as possible," said Chris Starbuck. "Live trees cannot be kept indoors as long as a cut tree."

The warm air and low humidity indoors can dry out the tree, he said. A week indoors is about the maximum time for live trees. To keep the roots moist, mulch the root ball with bark, or cover it with moist sphagnum moss or wet burlap enclosed in plastic wrap, he said.

White pine is the best Christmas tree species for planting as an ornamental in Missouri, he said. Norway spruce or white firs also grow fairly well in Missouri.

Don't chose Scotch pine if you intend to replant your tree. Replanted Scotch pines are very susceptible to a disease caused by the pine wilt nematode. Scotch pine presents no problem if discarded after the holiday.

"It's a good idea to dig your planting hole before you bring in the tree," Starbuck said. "Place a 6-inch layer of straw over the hole and the excavated soil to prevent freezing."

Make the planting hole at least twice the diameter of the root ball, but no deeper than the ball. Do not plant the tree in a low spot with poor drainage.

A newly planted tree needs thorough watering and 3 to 5 inches of bark or pine needle mulch.