The Q&A Archives: Living Christmas Tree

Question: I have a Norway spruce (Picea abies) as a living Christmas tree. However the lower needles on the branches go brown and fall off. Is this usual? What should I do? I love the tree but it looks silly with only the top half alive.

Answer: If your tree is indoors, the temperature may be too warm, its root ball has dried out, or the humidity is too low. It's best to keep it indoors for as short a period as possible--for example, just a week or 10 days, rather than the 4 or 5 weeks many cut trees stay up. Usually when a problem starts at the bottom of a tree and works its way up, it's because of root problems. You can try to save it by giving it a big healthy drink of water, lowering the heat, and keeping it out of direct sunshine.<br><br>When you take it back outdoors, do it gradually so it doesn't go into shock over the temperature changes. Try putting it on a covered porch or inside a garage at night and taking it back out during the day for four or five days.<br>Make sure it has plenty of water and don't fertilize it.<br>I'm not sure the tree will fully recover, but you can certainly try to nurse it back to health in this way.

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