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Gardening in the Zone: Growing Christmas Trees

November 4, 2019


It’s Christmas in July. Okay, well not really, but I’m here at a local tree farm with Paul Wray from ISU. And Paul, what types of trees do well in our zones? Well, the ones we like to grow the best would be scotch pine and then follow closely by white pine. Scotch pine will be the most common, and then followed by white pine. Some red pine. Then we’ve gotten into some of the firs. Which of course are very popular. Things like Canaan fir, and Fraser fir, Balsam fir. Occasionally Douglas fir and then once in a while we even try some spruces. Although we have to be careful with the spruces because they don’t hold their needles quite as well. So we have a whole variety of conifers that we tend to use. And what are you doing now to prepare for the holiday season? Well this is really our busy time. This is a time that we really work hard to correct the tree in it’s growth. I’m not saying that it’s wrong. It tends to grow a lot, so the first thing we’ll often do is do the top work. And work with that top whorl of branches and straighten it out. Maybe it’s crooked so we may have to do some straightening. We may have to do some thinning on it but sort of establish a little miniature Christmas tree at the top. And then once I have that established, we’ll go ahead and finish the shaping process. And usually we use either a shearing knife or in some cases a mechanical or rotary shear to finish the job. And how long does it take to grow that perfect Christmas tree? Six to seven years for Scotch pine and unfortunately quite a little bit longer than that for the firs. Up to 12 to 14 years for the firs. From the time we plant them as seedlings. And then what are some of the advantages to the real christmas trees? Big advantage is that they’re renewable. So while we have them planted in the field, they still give off oxygen, and they still fix that carbon dioxide. Then of course, once the Christmas tree is consumed by the consumer, we can go ahead and use it. We can use it as mulch, fish habitat, and then go back in and plant two or three new trees after that. That’s great to hear and if you would like more information on real christmas trees be sure to log onto these websites. For Gardening in the Zone I’m Liz Gilman.

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