Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
December, 2004
Regional Report

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Purchase Christmas trees with succulent, pliable needles.

Christmas Trees

Nothing suggests the holiday season has arrived like the fresh scent of a pine tree indoors! In our dry southwestern climate, it's essential to monitor trees to keep needles fresh and succulent as long as possible, both for aesthetics and to reduce fire hazards. Whether you opt for a cut tree or a live tree, check it's water needs daily.

Cut Trees
Saw off about 2 inches of the trunk just before putting it in its tree stand. This fresh cut will allow the tree to uptake water more efficiently and maintain fresh, pliable needles. Tree lots will saw the end off for you, but be sure you're heading straight home and not doing more holiday shopping with the tree on the roof of your car, or the cut will start to seal itself. Situate cut trees indoors in a shady corner away from direct sun, heating units, candles, and fireplaces.

Living Trees
It's helpful to soak the entire container in a larger container of water for a few hours or overnight to make sure the root ball is saturated before bringing it indoors. Once inside, maintain consistently moist soil. A simple method is to place ice cubes on top of the soil and let them melt. Live trees need a sunny location but still should be kept away from heating units, candles, and fireplaces.

When it's time to move the tree outdoors, put it in a sheltered location. The tree started acclimating to the warmer indoors and now it's thrust back into the cold so acclimate it slowly if weather conditions are extreme. Place it in a sheltered location, such as under the eaves, and protect it from strong winds or freezes. Maintain soil moisture. Plant in late winter/early spring after danger of frost is past.

Recycle Christmas Trees
Check with your city for locations to drop off dead Christmas trees to be chipped into mulch, or donate live trees to be planted in city parks or other public areas. Call your city parks department or waste/sanitation department to see what services are offered.

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