Planting a Miniature Christmas Tree
How to Keep a Mini Christmas Tree Alive after the Holidays
Inside or Outside?
Live tabletop Christmas trees are lovely during the holidays, but afterwards, when the lights and decorations have been removed and the trees begin to yellow and drop their needles, many of us may be tempted to throw them into the garbage.
But what a waste that would be! Especially when, with a bit of effort, miniature Christmas trees can live for many years, either as container plants or in the landscape.
Those of us who are simply re-potting our miniature conifers or who live in a mild-winter area don't even have to wait until spring to get started! We can replant our tabletop Christmas trees right now, in winter.
Removing the Decor
Giving miniature Christmas trees as gifts has become so popular. This year, we received two of them! And now that the holidays are over, it's time for us to do something with them—before they drop their needles and die.
The first step? Removing the decorations, including the strings of lights.
The décor on both of our mini tabletop trees was really, really attached! It took a good bit of time to unwrap the floral wire carefully in order to remove the decorative pine cones, artificial birds, garland and lights without damaging the trees.
Detaching the decorations, however, was well worth it. Once they were gone, the trees were much easier to handle when it was time to remove them from their pots.
The trees we received arrived in three containers each. The first layer, the containers that actually held the trees, were plastic nursery pots with drainage holes. They were set inside clear plastic liners, probably to prevent water from draining into the third container, which was decorative— a burlap wrapper in the case of one of the trees and a wooden cachepot for other.
After removing the decorations, which was no small task, we removed each of the trees from the containers, including the nursery pots. The roots were tight, compact and hard; they needed to be loosened and separated, which I accomplished with a sharp shovel.
Planting Miniature Christmas Trees Outside
Because the winters here in Southern Maryland are mild, we opted to plant our mini Christmas trees before the New Year.
If we lived in a colder region where the ground was snow covered or frozen, we would have waited until spring to plant them outdoors—although the trees would probably have had to be re-potted into larger containers with better drainage before then.
Selecting a Spot
The tabletop Christmas tree that we received through Harry & David is a Dwarf Alberta Spruce. Slow growers, Alberta Spruce trees average only two to three inches of new growth per year, eventually topping out at 12-feet tall. The other tree that we received, a Douglas Fir, will someday be a much larger tree, something we took into consideration when choosing a planting location.
Prepping the Soil
We planted the Douglas Fir first, setting it in a relatively sunny location at the edge of the woods near our house. Because Douglas Firs don't do well in compact soil, we made the hole wide and deep, breaking up the clods of clay well before mixing in a bag of topsoil.
The Dwarf Albert Spruce, which doesn't mind dense clay, was also placed in a sunny spot. Because of its small size and slow growth pattern, we chose a location in the landscaping island that we're developing along the edge of the woods. A row of young red twig dogwood are set about six feet behind the spruce tree.
Planting Tabletop Christmas Trees Indoors
If the ground is frozen where you live or you don't have a yard, you may extend the life of your miniature Christmas tree by re-potting it rather than by planting it outside.
Select a container that is larger than the original pot, and make sure that the larger container has lots of drainage holes. Place gravel in the bottom of the pot and fill it partially with regular potting soil before setting the tree in place. (If the roots are compacted, slash them along the sides and bottom with a sharp knife and spread them across the soil as you fill the pot.)
Once it's re-potted, place the mini Christmas tree in a sunny location. If set it in a covered area, such as an entryway, covered porch or sun room, it will need to be watered regularly. Most conifers grow best in moist, well-drained soil that's acidic (a good thing to keep in mind if you decide to fertilize).
© 2012 Jill Spencer