You know Christmastime has truly arrived when the tree is up and you sit back in the warm glow cast by the lights, breathe in the beauty, and admire the ornaments you’ve collected over the years. To help create such a moment, we at Fort Collins Nursery can provide you with the ideal fresh-cut or living Christmas tree.
For a cut tree, you can choose from Colorado-grown Alpine Fir and Lodgepole Pine, or from Fraser Fir and Scotch Pine grown on tree farms in Minnesota.
Alpine Fir and Lodgepole Pine are cut from the Rocky Mountains in an ecologically sensitive way, selectively thinned from thick tree stands. Small trees are never topped from larger trees. Because they are not grown on farms where trees are sheared, native trees are not always perfect, but they always have character. You may choose the graceful symmetry of our most popular tree, the silvery, short-needled Alpine Fir, or you may prefer the longer-needled Lodgepole Pine with needles that green up after the tree is brought indoors and placed in water. Both will fill your home with the evergreen freshness that characterizes Christmas.
Scotch Pine are one of the fastest growing varieties of Christmas tree available. Because they grow so quickly, they cost less than both wild-harvested trees and other farm grown trees and provide a great option budget-savvy tree shoppers. For folks who will settle for nothing less than the perfect Christmas tree, Fraser Fir is for you! It is the Mercedes of cut trees – the fullest that we carry – with thickly-clustered branches, deep green and silvery needles, and a sweet scent.
All cut Christmas trees are fully guaranteed. If your tree drops needles prematurely, just bring it back with your receipt, and we will replace it or issue a store credit for the original price.
Cut Tree Care
When you purchase a Christmas tree from Fort Collins Nursery, we will remove ½” from the trunk base so that it is immediately ready to absorb water. If your tree will sit outside for a few days, you’ll need to saw it off before bringing it indoors. Place your tree in an area free from drafts or excessive heat.
Cut trees must have a steady supply of water in order to stay fresh. Some folks swear by using preservatives in the water. You can make preservative yourself by mixing 1 cup corn syrup and 3 tablespoons chlorine bleach into 1 gallon of warm water. For those of you who do not want to fiddle with a preservative, just make sure your tree is placed in warm water, not cold, when you first set it up, as this helps soften the sap that otherwise can seal the cut end of the trunk, allowing a better uptake of water.
For trees that you want to keep up a long time or for trees in a warm or drafty spot, we also sell Wilt-Pruf, a preservative which you spray on the needles to preserve freshness. One warning, though: Wilt-Pruf can fade the bluish color on Fir and Spruce.
As for discarding your tree when the season is over, many cities provide tree recycling programs where trees that are taken to designated locations are shredded and used for mulch in public areas. Trees must be completely stripped of all ornaments, including tinsel. Check your city’s website for drop-off points and dates.
You can also extend the use of your tree by removing the branches and placing them over tender plants, or in windy exposed gardens where they serve as an extra layer of mulch throughout the winter. Just don’t forget to pick them up in the spring!
For those of you who want to enjoy your Christmas tree for longer than a single holiday season, consider a living Christmas tree. You can choose from a wide selection of fir, spruce, and pine varieties depending on what your landscape needs are. Fort Collins Nursery has a variety of sizes from small coffee-table trees to large landscape sized trees.
Once you’ve chosen your living tree and taken it home, keep it outdoors in a cool shady location, protected from severe winds. Living trees are dormant, and must not be kept indoors for longer than 5 to 7 days; otherwise they may break dormancy prematurely and begin to grow, greatly reducing their chances for survival after planting. Once indoors, decorate with mini lights or LED lights, not large incandescent lights that produce lots of heat.
Plan to plant your living tree outdoors right after Christmas if you were able to pre-dig the planting hole and cover the backfill soil with burlap or plastic to prevent it from freezing. We’ll give you planting instructions when you purchase your tree. If the snow is too deep, or the backfill soil is frozen, place the tree, still in its container, in your pre-dug hole and cover the area around the base with a thick layer of mulch until it can be properly planted in spring. Or you can put the tree in an unheated building or a protected location outdoors, preferable with a nice pile of mulch around the container. You can then plant the tree when the soil has thawed in spring. In any of these situations, water the tree once a month if the soil in the root ball is not frozen.
Fort Collins Nursery guarantees hardy living Christmas trees for one year. If your tree does not live or grow to your satisfaction, we will replace the tree or issue credit for the original amount paid.
Another living Christmas tree that doubles as a houseplant is the Norfolk Island Pine. It can be decorated and kept inside indefinitely since it will not survive below-freezing weather. Come visit our warm greenhouse and see our selection of Norfolk Island Pine, and while you’re here, find the perfect poinsettia or Christmas cactus to add some holiday color!
Now you just have to decide which type of Christmas tree with grace your home this year. We’re here to help you with the decision and wish you Happy Tree Hunting!
By Julie Fair. Originally published in the TreeTalk Newsletter in Winter 1994, updated for 2015.