Treat Your Trees: Know Your Christmas Tree

This is the season when trees come indoors to make our holidays festive. There are environmental arguments for and against any tree you may choose. If you opt for an artificial tree, be certain you will use it for years to come since nonrenewable resources were used to produce it. There are two ways to minimize the environmental impact of cut trees. Try to get a locally grown tree to reduce pollution associated with transporting it, and be sure it gets recycled after the holidays.

The other choice is a living tree that, instead of becoming trash, can be planted after the holidays. There are precautions to be taken to ensure this noble outcome.

Check the species before you buy. Will it live in a Southern California coastal area? Is its eventual size practical for your yard or other spaces should you donate it to a nonprofit such as Tree Musketeers? Many living trees are Italian Stone Pines that reach 80 feet in height and crown width at maturity.

Ignore labels boasting that living trees can be in the house longer. That is true only if tree survival is unimportant. Ten to fourteen days is about all of the warm indoors time a tree can tolerate. Keep a saucer under the pot before, during and after its time inside. These trees are root bound meaning there is little soil in the pot, and water runs straight through. The saucer will collect that water allowing the roots to drink at their leisure.

Learn to identify trees by species at Tree Musketeers’ Treat Your Trees workshops on Saturday Dec. 15th 10am-1pm. People who participate in each of five free Treat Your Trees workshops can earn a Tree Caregiver Certificate. Kids and adults can call Tree Musketeers at 310/322-0263 or email volunteers@treemusketeers.org to register.