A Christmas tree is a Christmas tree, no matter the size — and miniature potted Christmas trees can add a spectacular dash of evergreen to your tablescape, line your holiday walkway, or even serve as your full-on Christmas tree if you live in a small space. Standing 24 inches or smaller, you'll find these in garden stores from Thanksgiving through December, and they're often used as host gifts throughout the party season.
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But their tiny size doesn't mean that these little plants aren't real trees. That's important to keep in mind as the season winds down — when it's time to repurpose the tree from decoration to evergreen plant.
Been gifted a miniature Christmas tree? Here's how to best care for it so it can thrive in your garden for years to come.
Step 1: Give the Tree Time to Acclimate
Don't begin the repotting process immediately when you get the little tree home. Wait until the plant has acclimated to your home to repot. The little tree has spent most of its life in a store and it needs time to get used to your home's exposure and temperature.
Step 2: Repot in Quality Soil
Transplant the little tree into the next size pot a few weeks after bringing it home. Use quality potting soil. Many of these miniature Christmas trees have been in their containers for a little too long and have become rootbound. That means that the roots need fresh, new soil, and more of it.
Step 3: Keep the Tree Moist
Keep the miniature Christmas tree away from drafts, radiators, or other heat sources that may dry the foliage. This desiccation is the No. 1 killer of these small trees. Regular irrigation and a small humidifier could help.
Step 4: Keep it Cool
Place the miniature potted Christmas tree in a cool area of the house like on a window sill. Although the floral industry markets several types of trees — from rosemary to Italian stone pine — most require cool temperatures. Guard against sudden changes in temperature.
Step 5: Provide Irrigation
Keep the soil slightly moist. If the little tree happens to be rosemary, allow the soil to dry before watering again. Remove the foil wrapping around the pot when watering to prevent drainage issues.
Step 6: Transplant Outside
Dig a hole in the backyard and transplant the little tree once the holidays are past. Site the tree where it can get some sun in an area with well-draining soil. Those who live in cold-winter regions may need to wait until spring for the ground to thaw.
Based in the American Southwest, Bridget Kelly has been writing about gardening and real estate since 2005. Her articles have appeared at Trulia.com, SFGate.com, GardenGuides.com, RE/MAX.com, MarketLeader.com, RealEstate.com, USAToday.com and in "Chicago Agent" magazine, to name a few. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.