Living Christmas Trees

At Marcum’s Nursery, we want to be a part of your family’s yearly holiday tradition of choosing the perfect Christmas tree. Whether you prefer a cut or living Christmas tree, we have options to meet your Christmas tree needs. Here we will discuss living Christmas tree pros and cons, some popular living Christmas tree options, tips for choosing the right variety for your family, and living Christmas tree care instructions.
WHAT IS A LIVE CHRISTMAS TREE?
A live Christmas tree is just what it sounds like – a tree with its roots intact and typically sold in a container. After the Christmas season, a living Christmas tree can be planted on your property to serve as a reminder of Christmases past for years to come.

PROS AND CONS OF LIVE CHRISTMAS TREES

1. ECO-FRIENDLY

The main advantage of a living Christmas tree over other options is sustainability. It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway – it’s good for the environment to plant trees.  And, while we do love the idea of visiting a Christmas tree farm and cutting down the perfect tree with your family, there is a small bit of sadness attached to cutting down a beautiful, healthy tree. 

2. BETTER QUALITY

A living Christmas tree is usually more fragrant than a cut tree. It also stands firmly in the container, so it isn’t as likely to be wobbly or tip over as a cut Christmas tree in a stand. Since a living Christmas tree still has its roots intact, it should last much longer indoors than a cut tree if it is well-watered – cut trees can dry out quickly, but a living tree with a root system is much better equipped to take up water and stay hydrated. 

3. SIZE & WEIGHT

Living Christmas trees are typically much heavier than cut Christmas trees due to the weight of the root ball.  The added weight of the root ball might force you into a smaller tree than if you were buying a cut tree that won’t have a root system intact. 

4. PRICE

On the downside, living Christmas trees generally cost more than cut trees.  However, your investment doesn’t get thrown out with the wrapping paper and empty gift boxes after Christmas.  Over the years, your family can build a living collection of holiday memories that you get to watch grow.  

LIVE CHRISTMAS TREES OPTIONS

If you’re ready to start your family’s living Christmas collection, it’s time to choose the best Christmas tree for your home and landscape.  The right variety will depend on the size of your home and room in which you plan to put the tree, where you plan to plant it after Christmas, and the amount of sunlight it will receive.  Some varieties will need afternoon shade while others thrive in our hot summer conditions, some varieties get rather large at maturity while others stay smaller and narrower when fully grown.  

Below are some of the most popular live Christmas trees and some that deserve extra consideration given their suitability for thriving in Oklahoma landscapes once their holiday stay inside your home is finished.

1. COLORADO SPRUCE

The Colorado Spruce is famous for its silvery blue-green needles and incredible symmetry. It also carries a good number of heavy ornaments on its needles.  The Colorado Blue Spruce can tolerate a good amount of sunlight but, in our part of the country, aim to plant in a spot where it has some blockage from the sun’s hottest afternoon rays.

2. DWARF ALBERTA SPRUCE

The Dwarf Alberta Spruce exhibits soft, dense green needles.  It makes an excellent miniature Christmas tree indoors or strung with lights in containers on the porch.  It requires afternoon shade once planted outdoors in central Oklahoma. 

3. NORWAY SPRUCE CHRISTMAS TREES

If you’re looking for a live Christmas tree with a lovely mild scent, the Norway Spruce is a great choice. Its luscious forest-green limbs form that classic cone shape we love about Christmas trees.   

4. DEODAR CEDAR

The Deodar Cedar makes a beautiful living Christmas tree with its gray-green foliage and graceful branches.  Make sure you have plenty of room for it once you get it outdoors, however, as the deodar can grow over 40’ tall and 25-30’ wide.  Once established, the Deodar is also very heat and drought-tolerant.  

5. HOLLIES

Maybe you have never thought to choose a holly as your family’s living Christmas tree, but it could be the tree that keeps on giving for Christmases to come!  Several holly varieties produce beautiful berries in fall and winter that could be clipped yearly and used as beautiful additions to garlands and wreaths for your home throughout the holiday season.  

6. JUNIPER

Several upright juniper varieties make lovely Christmas trees, and, like the holly, juniper clippings make for nice additions to garlands, wreaths, and Christmas boughs as well.  Plus, you’re sure to find a juniper to meet your landscape needs as well; some varieties stay narrow while others get quite wide, and there is a good range of foliage colors available with junipers as well.

7. LEMON CYPRESS

This bright beauty makes the cutest potted evergreen for tabletops and porches during the holiday season.  However, it is useful in the landscape long after Christmas.  It has a very narrow habit only reaching about 3 feet in width and only about 10 feet in height making it a great choice to flank windows or create a hedge in a tight space.  It can even be kept in containers or used for bonsai.    

8. ARIZONA CYPRESS

Arizona Cypress is very tolerant of the hot, dry conditions we experience during Oklahoma summers, and it is often used in green belts and privacy screens.  The soil where they grow natively is much rockier and better draining than Oklahoma soil, however, so amend tight, clay-like soils to give them ideal conditions.

9. ROSEMARY

Have yourself a rosemary little Christmas! Rosemary makes the most beautiful little Christmas tree for a kitchen countertop where it can be used to season your holiday dishes and brushed occasionally to release its lovely scent throughout the home.  

10. NORFOLK PINE

Norfolk Pine is a houseplant in our climate, so you definitely don’t plant this one outside after the holiday.  You can, however, move it to a covered porch for a few months when temperatures warm up in the spring and summer.  Grown indoors it can get up to 8 feet tall.

LIVING CHRISTMAS TREE CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Transition your tree: When possible, transition your tree from the outdoors to a garage for a day or two before bringing it indoors.  Do the same when moving the tree from your home to the outdoors.  This will help the tree to better acclimate to the change in temperatures.  
  • Timing is everything: Your live Christmas tree should stay indoors for no more than 10 days. The warmth in your home may harm the tree or trigger a springtime growth, stunting its growth when you plant it outdoors. 
  • Choose the right spot: Live Christmas trees like cool spaces such as your porch, entryway, and near windows. Avoid heaters and fireplaces since the warmth makes the needles drop.
  • Maintain the live tree indoors: For your live Christmas tree to thrive, water it daily, and keep the root ball covered with a plastic bag. Maintain your indoor temperature at 68° F or less to keep the live Christmas tree from wilting. 
  • Plant and mulch: When it’s time to plant, position the root ball in the prepared hole, mix the existing soil with Redbud Compost, cover the root ball with the soil and compost mixture, and gently tamp it down to remove air spaces. A layer of insulating mulch helps to prevent freezing, keeps moisture near the root ball, and can even keep weeds at bay. 
  • Irrigate regularly: Water your live Christmas tree at the time of planting to help it adjust to and thrive in its new location. When temperatures are above freezing, which can be significant portions of Oklahoma winters, your tree will benefit from occasional, deep watering. 

CONCLUSION

Live Christmas trees are an investment in your landscape and create a cool family tradition.  Who wouldn’t want Christmas reminders sprinkled throughout the landscape to add extra jolliness throughout the year?!

Dividing Perennials Guide

Dividing perennials is an easy way to refresh your garden.  By dividing perennials, you keep your garden from becoming overgrown, you help reinvigorate your flower show, and you fill in empty spaces in your garden (and maybe your neighbor’s garden, too!).   Read on to learn more about dividing perennials to keep your garden looking its absolute best.

There are three main reasons to divide perennials:

  1. Control the size of your plants – Rapidly spreading perennials can get out of control; dividing spreading perennials helps keep them in check.  Plants that become too crowded from overgrowth are also more prone to pests and disease as they suffer from poor airflow.
  2. Rejuvenate your plants – Dividing old plants can rejuvenate them adding vigor and more profuse blooms. 
  3. Increase the number of your plants – Division is really addition when it comes to your perennial garden!  Gain additional plants by dividing to fill empty spaces in your garden or to share plants with your gardening friends.
WHEN TO DIVIDE

Most perennials benefit from dividing every three to five years.  Generally speaking, division should take place in the season opposite the plant’s flowering season; it is best to divide spring and summer flowering perennials in the fall and fall flowering perennials in the spring.  Dividing plants when they aren’t flowering allows the plant’s energy to be directed toward root development and leaf growth.

For fall division perennials, allow about six weeks from division to average first frost so plants can become established in their new homes.  In central Oklahoma, late August to early September is a good time to divide spring flowering perennials.

Spring division can be started as soon as the growing tips of the plants have emerged.  Don’t wait until temperatures rise too much to divide; it is best to allow time for roots to establish before temperatures become too hot stressing your newly divided plants.

WHICH PLANTS TO DIVIDE

Plants that are spreading to areas they aren’t wanted, plants with bald spots, and plants with flowers that are smaller and less abundant than are typical of the species (or subspecies) are great candidates for division (provided they are species that respond well to division).  

Perennials with long taproots should not be divided.  Other perennials reseed freely and therefore don’t require division.  Be sure to research your species and subspecies of perennials before dividing to ensure you won’t cause stress to a plant that prefers to be undisturbed.     

HOW TO DIVIDE

Prepare the area where you will be moving your new divisions before beginning.  Bed preparation should include eliminating perennial weeds, adding an working organic matter into the soil, and amending with fertilizer and/or other nutrients as needed.  (A simple soil test can determine whether and which amendments are needed.)  

Water the plants to be divided a day or two before dividing and make every effort to divide them on a cool, cloudy day. Keep divisions moist never allowing them to dry out.  Plant the divisions at the same depths they enjoyed in their previous location.  When you have finished dividing and replanting, water each plant with a starter fertilizer to reduce shock and to help the new plants root in and get established quickly.  

How you divide your perennial depends on which type of root system they have as well.  There are several types of root systems, but three groups cover perennials planted in most gardens – clumping, spreading, and woody.

CLUMPING PERENNIALS

Clumping perennials grow from a central clump – called a crown – which grows bigger each year producing offsets.  They also develop an extensive root system that benefits from division every two to three years to prevent problems associated with overcrowding.  

To divide clumping perennials, dig up the entire plant starting a good distance from the center to minimize root damage.  Once you have dug up your clumping perennials, loosen the roots to determine where to make divisions.  Often there will be obvious divisions; sometimes you will have to exercise your best judgement.  Always make sure there is a healthy amount of foliage and root system for each division.  The roots of clumping perennials tend to be thick and fleshy, so a soil knife, clippers, or other tool might be necessary to cut through the root system.  

Hostas, daylilies, guara, astilbe, and many ornamental grasses are examples of clumping perennials.   

SPREADING PERENNIALS

Spreading perennials grow by surface or underground roots or stems.  These plants’ shoots originate from many locations, and they can often look like separate plants with their own crown and root systems.  Dividing spreading perennials can keep those that are more invasive from taking over a space, and it can keep them from crowding out their own centers.    

To divide spreading perennials, simply dig up the portion of the plant you want to move making sure to get at least three to five vigorous shoots in each division.    

Examples of spreading perennials include lamium, bee balm, creeping phlox, and perennial vinca.

WOODY PERENNIALS

Woody perennials often have rooted layers meaning they had a branch from the original plant that rested on the soil and developed its own root system.  

To divide woody perennials, cut the stem that runs between the original plant and the new plant, dig up the new plant, and move it to its new home.  

Lavender, rosemary, and thyme are examples of woody perennials.  

GIVE IT A GO!

With a little research, perennial division can be performed successfully by even the most novice gardener.  This fall, why not give it a try on your spring and summer flowering perennials?!  Chances are that your garden will reward you with healthier, happier, and more abundant perennials. 

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

FOR THE DIY MOM

“Do It Yourself” moms aren’t messin’ around when it comes to thier love of working in the garden. She loves to get her hands dirty and she’s always encouraging you to “rub some dirt in it”. She’s bound to love a new garden project… Help her get started with new pottery, tools, or aqua pots.

POTTERY

GARDEN HOSE

WATERING CANS

FOR THE SHADY LADY

She’s not a regular mom. She’s a cool mom. How does she keep it so cool? She’s all about her shade. From her love of shade plants to her advocacy for sun protection – she’s one shady lady!

HYDRANGEAS

HATS & VISORS

SHADE SCREENS

FOR THE ARTSY MOM

She’s always looking for new and creative ways to enhance and add a personal touch to her outdoor space.

YARD ART

ART POLES

TRELLISES

FOR ROSE LOVIN’ MAMAS

Calling all Rosie the Riveters! This iconic mama works hard to keep her roses in tip top shape. Make sure she has all the tools (and roses) she needs to keep up the good work!

ROSES

ROSE GLOVES

PRUNING SHEARS

FOR MOTHER NATURE

Her gentle spirit and love of life makes this mama an outdoor pet aficionado. Help your mama make her outdoor space even more inviting to benefitical insects and birdlife. 

BIRD FEEDERS

BIRD BATHS

BENEFICIAL INSECT HOUSING

DON’T FORGET ABOUT GIFT CARDS!

Still not sure what to get her? Marcum’s Nursery gift cards never expire and can be used at any of our 4 nursery locations. Send Mom a gift card now with a personalized message straight to her inbox. Instantly redeemable and always a hit!


X