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How To Care For Your Potted Christmas Tree

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How to care for your potted Christmas tree with tips for planting it in your yard or keeping it potted for years to enjoy as your holiday tree.

There are many types of Christmas trees you can choose from. You can go with a fake plastic tree that you can use for many years, a fresh-cut tree, or a potted Christmas tree.

While potted trees aren’t as popular as fresh-cut ones for Christmas they are a great choice if you are looking for a more sustainable option and still have that wonderful fresh smell in your home.

They can be kept as potted plants for a few years, or planted in your yard after each holiday season.

Small Christmas tree in a wooden crate. Text overlay says How to care for potted Christmas trees.

When To Buy A Potted Christmas Tree

Potted Christmas trees should be purchased as close to Christmas as possible. Being live trees they can’t spend too much time indoors before they adapt to the warmer conditions and start to lose their hardness.

How To Choose The Right Potted Christmas Tree?

Christmas trees grown in pots.
Christmas trees grown in pots.

An important thing to keep in mind when you decide to buy a potted Christmas tree for the holidays is how heavy these trees are.

They are much heavier than traditional cut trees because they need a large pot and soil to support the root system.

If you will be moving the tree in and out of your home by yourself a smaller and easier to move tree may be a better idea.

There are also two types of potted Christmas trees you can find. Some trees are dug up and transplanted into large pots in the fall, while some trees are grown from seed in containers.

Trees grown in containers from the start are usually a better option when you are buying a potted tree.

They will have a root system that has adapted to the container and hasn’t gone through transplant shock before you bought them.

How To Care For Your Potted Christmas Tree

Small Christmas tree in a pot that's wrapped in a paper bag.

Hardening Off

Potted Christmas trees can only stay indoors for 7 to 10 days before they start to lose hardiness to outdoor conditions.

If possible wait until 1 to 1 1/2 weeks before Christmas to bring your tree indoors for the holiday.

Before bringing it inside keep it in a garage or other cool room for a few days to let it slowly adjust to having warmer temperatures and less sunlight.

Best Location

To help keep the potted tree healthy keep it in a cooler room in your home. If that’s not possible try to at least keep it away from south-facing windows where the sun is warmest.

It’s great to give your tree sunlight you just don’t want a full day of strong light coming through a window warming the tree too much.

Also, keep the tree away from heat vents and fireplaces as the warmth and dry air can cause them to dry up faster and drop needles and become a fire hazard.

Decorating Tips

Take care decorating your live tree so that you don’t break the branches.

Use smaller mini LED lights that aren’t heavy and don’t produce as much heat as some other types. Also, avoid using heavy ornaments that might bend or break the tree branches.

After Christmas

Once Christmas is over move the potted tree back to your garage or shed for a few days to a week.

Just as you conditioned the tree before bringing it inside you need to harden it off before you take it back outside.


Overwatering is one of the worst things you can do to a potted Christmas tree.

Make sure that the container the tree is in has good drainage holes and a tray under it to catch the extra water.

Check the soil every day and it feels dry water it with cold water, but just enough to keep the soil moist not soggy.

Depending on how large your potted tree is it may go through a lot of water, just like a cut Christmas tree will. Just remember not to overwater it as it can cause the roots to rot.

Watering consistently is better than just letting it sit in a tray of water.

Planting A Christmas Tree In The Garden

After Christmas, you can plant your tree out in your yard so you can enjoy it for years to come.

Remember that the tree will get tall, so look up before you pick a place to plant. Make sure there are no power lines or other things in the way.

If you live in a cold area where the ground freezes it’s best to dig the planting hole before the colder weather has set it. The hole should be twice as wide as the trees root ball and the same depth as the tree is in the pot.

Backfill the hole with mulch and then cover it with a tarp to keep the rain or snow out of it until you are ready to plant. Then you can dig out the mulch, plant your tree and backfill it with soil. Finally spread the mulch around the base of the tree.

How To Keep A Christmas Tree Alive All Year

If you have a smaller tree another option is to keep it in the pot so you can use it as your Christmas tree again next year.

Even if you want to keep the tree in its pot all year it’s still best to move the tree outside. Harden the plant off in your garage or shed for a few days to a week so it slowly adjusts to the outside temperatures.

Then move it outside to a sheltered area protected from strong winds. If you live in an area that gets extremely cold winters you may have to add mulch around the pot as an insulator to help keep it from freezing.

Coniferous trees grow quickly and you will need to re-pot your tree into a larger container each year to keep it healthy.

Remember to water and fertilize it regularly through the summer as containers dry out much faster than in-ground plants.

Then when the Christmas holidays come around again next year follow the same steps for getting your tree used to the indoors just before Christmas.

Potted Christmas Tree Turning Brown

The main cause of needles turning brown on potted Christmas trees is too little water.

Make sure to check your tree daily and if the top few inches of the soil is dry, water with enough cold water to moisten the soil.

But remember not to let the tree stand in water or the roots could start rotting.

Where Can I Buy A Potted Christmas Tree?

Potted Christmas trees aren’t quite as common as the fresh-cut kind but that doesn’t mean they are hard to find. Your best option is to contact your local tree farm or nursery and they should be able to help you find the right size and type for your home.

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