Friday, November 17, 2023

Christmas Tree Shopping

                                             Ol'Boy (RIP) Enjoying Holiday Festival of Lights


Horticulture Hotline 11/17/23

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Another year has almost gone by. What a year! Covid ((still? really?), lots of high tides, mosquitoes, strange rain (or lack of rain) patterns, and moles. With the dry spring very little brown patch – a nice change!


This week I started seeing tents going up in parking lots, so I figured it was time for the yearly Christmas tree article.  


I was talking with a friend this week and he had already taken a trip through the Festival of Lights at James Island County Park. He said he had to pry his two-year-old off of the merry-go-round! I was extremely jealous. The light show is definitely a tradition with my family. The lights, the train, hot chocolate, smores (if you listen to “The Garden Clinic” , you know I’m not a fan of smores, but everyone else seems to be), the walking trails with lights, the big sand feature, music, gift shop, and oh yeah, Santa. If you are a kid, does Christmas still seems like it takes forever to get here? It sure comes up quick to me! 


I wanted to get this yearly Christmas Tree article out, 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 an independently owned 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. Many of them bring their employees with them. 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. Very important to always keep profits local, especially these days.


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. A nice pot, potting soil, wetting agent, and fertilizer would make a great gift.


Have you ever considered a live tree? Different Hollies (right now you can tell the females with beautiful berries), 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. Leyland Cypress have been removed from this list due to their disease issues.


Local tree farms are also an option. A ride in the country is always a good family event (young children, “how much longer will it take to get there?”).  Lebanon Christmas Tree Farm in Ridgeville and Toogoodoo Tree Farm on the way to Edisto are some 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 the truck), and make sure it stays in water until you take it to the curb after the holidays.  Once you bring the tree home, cut an inch off the bottom of the tree, and place the tree in a five-gallon bucket of water.  While the tree is still outside, consider spraying the tree with Transfilm, Cloud Cover or Wilt Proof to keep the water loss through the needles at a minimum. If you notice any insects on the tree, blast it with a strong stream of water or consider an insecticidal soap. 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 always is the most important thing you can do for the tree.  The water conducting vessels quickly close 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. You might want to save the aspirin if you drink Uncle Joe’s egg nogg, bourbon soaked cherries or Holiday Punch.  


Thank you for shopping at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply and for all your letters, questions, comments when I meet you, and for reading “The Horticulture Hotline”! Make it a Great and Safe Holiday Season!