For those of you with a family tradition of planting live Christmas trees, here’s a hot tip: “Fat Albert” is a particularly handsome spruce tree that makes an ideal Christmas tree. What makes “Fat Albert” special is its wonderful blue color, and the dense, compact shape that makes it perfect for landscapes.
Colorado blue spruce trees can vary in color from deep green to mist blue, but Fat Albert is always the perfect blue color (known as a “shiner” in the nursery trade”). It is slower growing, so its branches are closer together on the trunk, and it’s shorter and wider than most spruce.
“Live” Christmas trees are evergreens meant to be planted after serving as Christmas decorations. These trees are sold “balled and burlapped”, meaning they are dug rather than cut. Live trees are more expensive than cut trees, and are more trouble, but the payoff is that they can give you pleasure for many years.
The best live tree is a smaller tree. Getting a large evergreen in and out of the house, keeping it watered and planting it in the dead of winter can be a lot of work. We suggest trees in the four-foot tall range, easier to handle and more likely to survive. Ideally, skip the step of bringing it indoors and simply plant it the day you bring it home. However, there is a winning strategy to enjoy your live tree indoors for Christmas.
If you decide this is for you, here are some suggestions to help you succeed. First, keep the tree inside for two weeks or less. The transition into, and later out of a heated house should be gradual. Evergreens are dormant in December, and the heat in your home can fool the tree into thinking it’s spring. Once the sap starts to rise, putting the tree outside again will shock it.
When you take your tree home, keep it in a garage or screened porch until the week before Christmas. Keep the root ball moist. After the holiday, let it get used to the cold again in your garage or porch before planting it outdoors.
We suggest placing a few bags of mulch over the spot where you plan to plant your tree, to keep the ground from freezing. Make sure not to plant it too deep or cover the root ball with soil. This will smother it and could kill it. After planting, water the tree well and spread mulch around it to protect the roots.
We have a limited number of shapely young Fat Albert Christmas trees available this season. If you can’t find one closer to home, call us. We can reserve a nice tree for you, for pickup just before Christmas.
Steve Boehme is the owner of GoodSeed Farm Nursery & Landscape, located on Old State Route 32 three miles west of Peebles. To e-mail your landscaping questions click “Contact Us” from their website at www.goodseedfarm.com or call (937) 587-7021.