Here are this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners. To submit a question, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit www.pcmg-texas.org.
Did you know that you can “go green” this Christmas by choosing a living Christmas tree?
A living tree is a wonderful option for those who want to be good stewards of our natural resources. A living tree can be potted during the holiday season and then transplanted outdoors in January.
There are several varieties of conifer that perform nicely in a pot such as black pine, Japanese yew, deodar cedar, or juniper. Broad-leafed varieties also make good specimens for decorating. You might choose American holly, Burford holly, compact cherry laurel or yaupon holly. A Norfolk Island pine is also a good option, but it must remain indoors as it will not survive in our zone.
When choosing a living tree, consider where you will plant it when the season is over. Also consider the size and type of pot you will need. If the tree roots are balled and burlapped, a container must be used that will allow at least an inch of peat moss, potting soil or compost around the ball to prevent drying out. If the plant has been grown in a container, it can be more attractive by placing it in a redwood tub, ceramic or clay pot, or even a wooden box lined with plastic. All containers should drain to prevent damage to the roots caused by excess moisture. A pan underneath the container will also prevent floor damage.
It is important to select a good location that is not in the path of heat, or near a stove or radiator. The room should be kept as cool as possible, and the plant should be watered when dry. You can check the moisture level with a sharpened pencil by inserting it into the soil. If the pencil comes out dry and clean then the plant needs water. A water meter may also be helpful.
Living trees can be decorated just as you normally do. LED lights may be more beneficial as they emit much less heat than the normal Christmas lights. Living trees provide both joy and interest to the holiday season, with an added benefit to your landscape the following year. We hope you consider adding one to your Christmas tradition.