Your Christmas spirit can continue well into the New Year, and even years to come, with the simple pleasure of a live tree rather than a cut tree. Many coniferous evergreens are suitable: Aleppo Pine, Loblolly Pine, Juniper, Deodar Cedar, or Japanese Yew, to name a few. Other possibilities include broad-leafed evergreen trees like American, Burford, or Yaupon Holly.
All of these should be available at local nurseries. Simply place your choice inside a decorative container while on display in your home. The plant should be watered when dry and the room should be kept as cool as possible. Avoid direct sunlight or placing it too close to a fireplace or heater. Decorate and enjoy!
After Christmas, plant the tree in your landscape to enjoy for years. Choose a suitable site and dig a hole roughly two to three times the diameter of the tree's soil ball. Plant the tree at the same depth as it was planted in its container. Backfill the hole carefully, watering when the hole is 3/4 full; wait for the water to be absorbed, then finish filling the hole.
Mulch the tree well with organic matter and do not fertilize until late spring. Water the tree regularly but allow the soil to dry out somewhat between waterings. More new plantings fail due to over-watering than under-watering, even in our sandy East Texas soils. Don't kill it with love...
With proper care you'll not only have a living reminder of this year's Christmas joy, you'll also have a tree ready to serve as an outdoor decoration next year, draped with lights.
Kathy Fiebig, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas AgriLife Extension Service