Once you’ve brought your live Christmas tree home, keep it inside the house for the minimum length of time possible. To acclimate the tree to domestic life, move it gradually between indoor and outdoor temperatures. An unheated garage makes a good staging area. Inside, it should be situated in as cool a location as possible, no warmer than 65 degrees, and away from any source of heat. Damp B&B root-balls can “sweat” moisture and should be placed inside a large container or set on a leakproof tray. When the root surface begins to dry out, water the tree until the liquid begins to drain out of the bottom of the container.
It’s wise to prepare your tree’s future home before the ground freezes. Your planting area should be the same depth as the roots and 2 to 3 times as wide. (Consult our October/November issue’s “Tree Hugging” article for a tree-planting primer.) If you can’t find a good spot, donate the tree to the Living Christmas Tree Company (503-501-0087), which will see that your tree is planted in a local watershed or garden. This company also rents live Christmas trees for $75: The tree is delivered to your front door, picked up after the holidays, and then planted somewhere useful.
The Portland Way
And so, given that we’re the Christmas tree capital of the world, what do Portlanders buy? “The noble fir is definitely king,” says Bryan Ostlund of the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association. With its thick, silvery-green needles; rich, woodsy aroma; and sturdy branches protruding straight from the trunk, the noble fir is perfect for ornaments. The Douglas fir remains popular, however, for its long, soft, blue-green needles, which smell delicious when crushed. Douglas firs are also more suitable as living Christmas trees in the Portland area since they thrive in low-elevation gardens, while the noble fir prefers a cooler, higher-elevation site than Portland can provide.