Monday, November 21, 2011

"Oh Christmas Tree....

I was out this weekend and the Salvation Army Bell was ringing and the Christmas Tree sales tents were going up. I wanted to get this article out early, so you could make plans to go to a local Christmas Tree Farm, find a local source for a cut tree or use a live tree that you could use in your landscape after the holidays if you were so inclined.

After Thanksgiving, many of you will be searching for a Christmas tree. If you are going to buy a cut tree, consider buying it from a local business that is here year-round like a garden center. If you buy it from a tent, or a temporary site, look for one that is run by the Exchange Club, Optimist Club, Rotary Club, a local church, a local school club, a local landscaper or another local organization. Many local organizations that sell trees give a portion of the profits to local charities such as Camp Happy Days.

There are some people from out of state that set up tents in grocery store parking lots. They take their profits out of state when they leave. If you support our local businesses, then you keep our money in our local economy and maybe save a local job.

Many of the local garden centers offer great Christmas gifts along with trees this time of year. They have purchased many seasonal items that would be a great present for anyone. Gift certificates are usually available for the hard to shop for gardener. Shopping at a garden center is a great way to avoid long lines. The parking is free and plentiful this time of year.

Have you ever considered a live tree? Different Hollies (right now you can tell the females with beautiful berries), Leyland Cypress, Eastern Red Cedar, Little Gem Magnolias, Osmanthus, Deodara Cedar and many more make great trees and after the holidays you can plant them in your yard instead of throwing them to the curb.

Local tree farms are also an option. Noel’s Christmas Tree Farm on Johns Island and Too Goo Doo Tree Farm on the way to Edisto are two local tree farms. Picking out your own tree is fun for the whole family and usually involves hot chocolate and hay rides. You know you are getting a fresh tree when you cut it yourself.

If you go with a traditional cut tree, make sure it is in water at the place you buy it (unless it is coming fresh off of the truck), and make sure it stays in water until you take it to the curb. Once you bring it home cut an inch off of the bottom of the tree and place it in a 5 gallon bucket of water. Be sure this is a clean 5 gallon bucket that doesn’t have any bait ball residue left from shrimp season! While the tree is still outside, consider spraying the tree with Transfilm, Cloud Cover or Wilt Proof to keep the water loss through the leaves at a minimum. Let the tree dry before bringing it into the house.

Locate your tree within your house away from heating ducts and the fireplace. A stand that can hold a lot of water is a big plus because a fresh cut Christmas tree can drink 1-2 gallons of water per day. Have one responsible adult in charge of watering the Christmas tree daily to avoid ruining the carpet or floors. If you can, fill (2) one gallon milk jugs each day and let them sit for 24 hours, this will allow the chlorine to evaporate out of the water. Letting the chlorine evaporate from the water you water your plants, is a practice you should use when watering all house plants.

There are many secrets to keeping a tree fresh. Having a fresh cut and keeping water above this cut at all times is the most important thing you can do for the tree. The water conducting vessels quickly close up if the tree does not have constant water. Using a drop of Super Thrive in each gallon of water will help the tree stay fresh. Many people use 7-up and an aspirin in the water.

Thank you for all of your letters, questions and for reading The Horticulture Hotline.