Another year has almost gone by. What a year. The spring was as dry as I can remember. Plants, grass and trees want water during the spring to develop new leaves and to function. The irrigation guys got swamped. Does anyone/everyone have moles? Mole crickets? Fire ants?
This week I started seeing tents going up in parking lots and people wearing Christmas Hats, so I figured it was time for the yearly Christmas tree article. I heard of the long lines at department stores.
I’m looking forward to my trip through the Festival of Lights at James Island County Park. I was collecting soil for some of their turf area to be tested there the other day on a rainy cloudy day and when I was leaving the park, some of the displays were coming on with all their holiday spirit. I’m sure I will be treated to another outstanding display of lights this year, plus the sand castle, train, walk-around displays, shops and all the “fair food.” If you’re a kid, does Christmas still seem like it takes forever to get here? It sure comes up quick to me.
I wanted to get this yearly Christmas Tree article out early, so you could make plans to go to a local Christmas tree farm, find a local source for a cut tree or use a live tree that you could use in your landscape after the holidays, if you were so inclined.
After Thanksgiving, many of you will be searching for a Christmas tree. If you are going to buy a cut tree, consider buying it from a local business that is here year-round like an independently owned garden center. If you buy it from a tent, or a temporary site, look for one that is run by the exchange club, optimist club, rotary club, a local church, a local school club, a local landscaper or another local organization. Many local organizations that sell trees give a portion of the profits to local charities such as Camp Happy Days.
There are some people from out of state that set up tents in grocery store parking lots. They take their profits out of state when they leave. If you support our local businesses, then you keep our money in our local economy and maybe save a local job. Very important to always keep profits local, especially these days.
Many of the local garden centers offer great Christmas gifts along with trees this time of year. They have purchased many seasonal items that would be a great present for anyone. Gift certificates are usually available for the hard to shop for gardener. I know I felt like a professional athlete, signing Possum gift certificates last week. Shopping at a garden center is a great way to avoid long lines. The parking is free and plentiful this time of year.
Have you ever considered a live tree? Different Hollies (right now you can tell the females with beautiful berries), Eastern Red Cedar, Little Gem Magnolias, Osmanthus, Deodara Cedar and many more make great trees and after the holidays you can plant them in your yard instead of throwing them to the curb. Leyland Cypress have been removed from this list.
Local tree farms are also an option. A ride in the country is always a good family event (young children, “how much longer will it take to get there?”). Lebanon Christmas Tree Farm in Ridgeville and Toogoodoo Tree Farm on the way to Edisto are some local tree farms. Picking out your own tree is fun for the whole family and usually involves hot chocolate and hay rides. You know you are getting a fresh tree when you cut it yourself.
If you go with a traditional cut tree, make sure it is in water at the place you buy it (unless it is coming fresh off of the truck), and make sure it stays in water until you take it to the curb after the holidays. Once you bring the tree home, cut an inch off of the bottom of the tree, and place the tree in a five-gallon bucket of water. While the tree is still outside, consider spraying the tree with Transfilm, Cloud Cover or Wilt Proof to keep the water loss through the leaves at a minimum. If you notice any insects on the tree, blast it with a strong stream of water or consider an insecticidal soap. Let the tree dry before bringing it into the house.
Locate your tree within your house away from heating ducts and the fireplace. A stand that can hold a lot of water is a big plus because a fresh cut Christmas tree can drink 1-2 gallons of water per day. Have one responsible adult in charge of watering the Christmas tree daily to avoid ruining the carpet or floors. If you can, fill two 1-gallon milk jugs each day and let them sit for 24 hours, this will allow the chlorine to evaporate out of the water. Letting the chlorine evaporate from the water you water your plants is a practice you should use when watering all house plants.
There are many secrets to keeping a tree fresh. Having a fresh cut and keeping water above this cut at all times is the most important thing you can do for the tree. The water conducting vessels quickly close up if the tree does not have constant water. Using a drop of Super Thrive in each gallon of water will help the tree stay fresh. Many people use 7UP and an aspirin in the water. You might want to save the aspirin if you drink Uncle Joe’s egg nog.
Thank you for shopping at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply and for all of your letters, questions, comments when I meet you and for reading “The Horticulture Hotline.”