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Alberta Spruce as Christmas Tree
Answered by Tom Mugridge

Q: Hi - my husband is thinking of buying one of these for our deck. I know it is an outdoor plant but I was hoping I could bring it in briefly every Christmas as our Christmas tree - -what would need to be done to the plant to acclimate it to the indoor temps and back to outdoor temps without doing to much damage and is this possible?

A: Many people purchase a live tree for Christmas, planning to plant it in their yard afterward. In these cases, it is best to store the tree in a semi-cool area (like an unheated garage or shed) for a week or so before you bring it inside, and then bring it in only for a week or so at Christmas.

The shorter the time the better, as the plant may decide it's time to break dormancy if it's in a warm place for too long (similar to how you can get forsythia to bloom in late winter by bringing cuttings in and placing them in a vase of water).

If the plant begins to break dormancy, the now-tender parts can freeze after you put it back outside. Be sure the root ball doesn't dry out while inside, either. You may want to give it one watering if the soil feels dry to the touch 6" down.

To return it outdoors, you could place it back in that semi-cool area for a week or so to acclimate it, then place it outside for the rest of the winter.

If the plant is to be above ground (like in a pot or planter), you may want to mulch around the outside of the container to help moderate the temperature of the root zone. Exposed roots freeze very quickly and easily, and this usually spells the demise of the plant.

Roots in an above ground container can freeze as they don't have the benefit of soil surrounding them, which is the case of plants that are in-ground. This is where mulching can help.



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