The Q&A Archives: evergreen indoors?

Question: Yesterday I purchased (on sale woot!) what I call a charlie Brown tree but what is labeled a cedar blue atlas/cedrus atlantica glauce. It is about 5' high and is in burlap and a plastic container. I live in southern Mass. in the tri-states area and for the last 3 days we have had a pretty strong frost. Is it too late to put this tree in the ground? I love how it looks and have had it in my house at night so it doesnt get the frost, is it possible to keep it indoors untill spring and plant it then or is it safe to still plant it in the ground outside? I plan on putting it the front of my house which faces South and gets afternoon sun. Another question I had was where I am putting it had rhododendrons that were very over grown and we are thinning out will that tree do well there along with the rhodies I left there or would it do better else where and how far away from the house should I plant it? I would like to keep it small for now which I was told by the nursery that I could do by cutting it back is this true? Thank you for your time and feel free to add any other usefull info you have I am new to the whole tree thing. Smiling Heather

Answer: Your Blue Atlas Cedar tree needs to be planted outdoors as soon as possible. It will not thrive indoors, and keeping it indoors will prevent it from adapting to the seasonal change on its normal schedule -- it needs to undergo a gradual seasonal change outdoors to prepare for the winter cold.

It needs a location with well drained soil and full direct sun all day long. (In most cases a spot where rhododendrons are growing would not be sunny enough for this tree.) In your area it would also do better in a sheltered spot with protection from sweeping winter winds. Apply a generous layer of mulch in a flat layer spread out over the root zone in late fall, but do not allow it to touch the trunk of the tree.

I am a little concerned about winter hardiness. This tree is generally considered winter hardy into zone 6. Your zip code places you in the warmer part of zone 5. If you have a sheltered microclimate, then it may be fine. But keeping it indoors is not really an option -- it needs some winter chilling.

The other issue is size. This is potentially a very large tree over time, up to about 60 feet tall, so you need to plant it somewhere with space for it to grow and mature. Repeated pruning to keep it smaller will ruin the natural shape of the tree. Here is more information about this tree you may find helpful.

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