Caring for and Planting a Balled in Burlap Christmas Tree
by Michael J. McGroarty -
This the season when lots of people drag a real tree into
their house and decorate it. Some people buy live trees that
are balled in burlap instead of a cut tree. A live tree is a
great idea, but many people make serious mistakes when it
comes to handling a live tree, and they end up losing their
money. The information in this article also pertains to any
live tree you are planting, be it now during the winter, or
during the summer.
1. Before you even take the tree in the house, dig a hole
for the tree where you expect to plant it after the
holidays. Put the soil in a
wheelbarrow and park it in the
garage. You'll need loose soil to back fill the hole, and
the ground might be frozen after the holidays.
2. Keep your live tree in the house for as short a time as
3. Keep the ball plenty moist while in the house, but not in
a tub full of water. You don't want the ball to dry out
completely, but by the same token it shouldn't be soggy all
the time either. Just moist. You can wet it thoroughly, but
then don't water again until the water is almost gone.
Christmas move the tree outdoors as soon as
possible and plant it immediately. If you were not able to
dig the hole earlier, the ground is frozen, and the tree can
not be planted, leave it outside and pack bags of leaves or
bales of straw around the ball. Find a way to heal it in in
such a way that the amount of sun and wind the root ball
receives is minimal.
5. Try and plant the tree immediately if you can. You do not
want to store the tree on top of the ground during the
winter if you can avoid it. Putting in your
garage is not a
good idea either, it is likely to dry out in there. The
absolute best place for the ball is in the ground, even if
the ground has frozen after you dug the hole. Just set the
tree in the hole and back fill with loose soil. Make sure
there are no air pockets around the ball. Back fill only
with small particles of soil. If this can not be done
because the soil is frozen, just set the tree in the hole
and back fill as soon as the weather permits.
6. Check the ball for nylon string. Cut and remove any nylon
string. Sometimes the diggers wrap the string around the
stem of the tree. If the string is a cotton type, like
twine you can leave it on the ball but remove it from the
stem. If the burlap is nylon it should be cut in many places
or removed. If the ball is wrapped with a wire basket I
recommend leaving it on. It will help to secure the tree and
keep it from rocking back and forth with the wind. The roots
will find their way through the wire and the burlap. Just
cut the burlap where you can.
7. Do not plant the tree too deep. This is the number one
reason for plants that do not survive. They should not be
planted any deeper than they were in the nursery. The top of
the ball should be one to two inches above the ground level.
If you have heavy, wet, clay soil, you should plant it even
higher and build a bed up around the ball. When you plant
them too deep the plants literally suffocate.
8. Do not
fertilize the tree at the time of planting. You
can fertilize it in the spring, but only with an organic
fertilizer. If you have compost available, mix some in while
planting. Fertilizer can do more harm than it can good. I
always recommend organic fertilizers. It's hard to make a
mistake with organics. It's always a good idea to stake
trees when you plant them. If the wind is constantly rocking
them back and forth they will have a difficult time
establishing new roots in their new home.
Michael J. McGroarty is the author of this article. Visit
www.freeplants.com and sign up for his excellent
gardening newsletter, and grab a FREE copy of his
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