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Living Christmas treesEach year, living Christmas trees are becoming more popular because of their many advantages over other types of Christmas trees.

Some of the biggest advantages of using living Christmas trees are the lessening of fire hazard, their future use in the landscape and the fact that they may often be used more than one year as a living Christmas tree in the home. Living Christmas trees offer year-round beauty when planted in the landscape after Christmas and can also serve as outdoor Christmas trees for many years to come. Planted in the landscape living trees also become a yearly source for cut greens to use during the holiday season.

Left planted in containers for year-round beauty, the living Christmas tree may be moved from one area to another during the holiday season. However, because most living trees used for Christmas trees are fast growing, they should not remain in a container for more than two years.

The fragrance of many of the living trees is very pleasant when they are used in the home. The varieties of pines have an especially nice aroma.

There are a few important steps to follow for best results in caring for a living Christmas tree in the home.

1. Line the tub or container in which you place a living tree with plastic, waterproof paper or foil to keepexcess water from dripping through onto your floor or carpeting.

2. Be sure to water the tree regularly while it is being used in the home. By using a sandy loam soil, mixed with ample moist, not soaking wet, peat moss, packed around the root ball in the container, you will 1 lessen the frequency of watering.

3. Avoid direct contact of hot Christmas lights with the needles of a living tree, as the heat from some lights will sometimes burn the needles, slightly discoloring them. The newer low watt lights are seldom hot enough to burn needles.

4. Keep the living tree in the home for about seven to ten days only. Prolonged exposure to warm household temperatures would force new growth to develop on the tree and this growth would be apt to freeze when the tree was transplanted outdoors after Christmas.

5. Living trees should not be sprayed with colored Christmas paint or snow. After Christmas, if the weather should happen to be very cold place the living tree in the basement or garage where it is cool, but not below freezing, for a few days only: Then, when the weather improves, the tree is taken out of the container and planted into the garden.

The tub or container may be used later for planting bulbs or summer annuals for color on the patio or' in the entry area.

The following is a list of a few of the most popular types of trees that are used as living Christmas trees.

NORWAY SPRUCE -, One of the most popular living trees. It is a stiff, pyramidal tree with dark green foliage. Often used in the garden by itself, or in groups, or as a trimmed hedge or wind break.

COLORADO BLUE-GREEN SPRUCE - Another very popular living Christmas tree, Very stiff, beautiful formal tree with green or blue-green foliage. Koster's and Moerheim spruce are a beautiful silvery blue in color, but not generally as well-formed as the Colorado blue-greens The spruce varieties are most often used as specimen trees because of their individual beauty.

ALBERTA SPRUCE - Grows only about six to eight feet at maturity, It is a stiff conical, tight-growing spruce. Excellent for a small table, living Christmas tree and is very suitable for year-round container growing. New foliage in the spring is a soft chartreuse color. An excellent miniature living Christmas tree.

DOUGLAS FIR - Dark green foliage is dense and handsome. Native to the Northwest, the Douglas Fir grows well in most any soil except low, undrained swampland. An excellent tree for sunny or shady locations. A fine, soft-textured tree that is often used for screens and hedges, or as a specimen tree. Boughs are used for swags, wreaths and general holiday decorating.

WHITE FIR - Abies Concolor - The foliage is gray-blue. Growth is approximately 12 to 18 inches per year when the tree becomes established. Simple pruning will control the height of this tree. Boughs are excellent for holiday decorating. It makes a nice specimen tree, or is excellent for screening and hedging in the garden.

ALPINE FIR - Often called silver fir, the foliage is dark green with a silvery-green color underneath. Shape is generally irregular unless the trees are nursery grown locally.

NOBLE FIR - A symmetrical, pyramidal tree with darkest green foliage, bluish-gray on the tips and silvery-green underneath. One of the finest living trees for use during the holiday season.

SCOTCH PINE - One of the most popular pines for a living Christmas tree. The needles are a bluish-green color. Boughs are often used in wreaths and swags.

AUSTRIAN PINE - It is a well shaped pine with dark green needles. Often used as a living Christmas tree. It is a bushy, sturdy pine.

JAPANESE BLACK or JAPANESE RED PINE - Both have irregular shapes and have a tendency to form more than one trunk at ground level. Ideal for training and dwarfing. These twin pines are often used as specimen plants in rockeries or outcroppings. They make nice irregular shaped living Christmas trees.

Local nurseries and garden centers have excellent selections of living trees during the holiday season, from table size trees to six to seven foot, room size trees, many of which are already planted in containers.

Living Christmas tree costs are comparable with the cost of most cut trees, and the living tree will increase in value each year as it grows.


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