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Caring For Your Live Yule Tree

By Jim Klett, professor, Colorado State University Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture

Container-grown evergreen trees often have a better chance of survival than balled and burlapped trees.  It is important to dig the hole for the tree before the ground freezes so you can plant the tree easily after the holidays.  Fill this hole with leaves or mulch so it does not freeze, then cover it with a board.  Store the excavated soil in a spot where it won't freeze.

If you can't dig the hole before the ground freezes, overwinter the tree in a cool space that gets some light.  The temperature where the tree is stored should be above freezing but below 50 degrees.  Water the tree as needed.

After you buy the evergreen tree, acclimate it to the house by placing it in a protected place for a week, such as in an unheated garage or shed.  The tree will dry out quickly, so keep its roots moist and its branches misted.

Indoors, keep the tree away from heat.  The cooler the temperature and the shorter the tree's time indoors, the better.  Don't let the room get warmer than 68 degrees or keep the tree inside the house longer than a week.

After the holidays, harden-off the tree by returning it to its protected place for a week; then plant it if weather permits.  Fill the hole with the soil you have stored, then water.  Mulch around the tree, and water it during the winter and spring, as needed.

Photograph courtesy of Judy Sedbrook.

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Date last revised: 01/05/2010