Ensure Holiday Fresh Evergreens From Your Yard

by Ken Lain, The Mountain Gardener, Watters Garden Center

This mountain hardy pine tree is gaining nationwide popularity.

The Single Blue Pinyon Pine is a local variety that gives a bold appearance. Its blue color blends well in mountain landscapes.

The tree is gaining popularity at farmers markets for its pine nut production. At a young age, the tree produces pine cones with melt-in-your-mouth nuts. Let it grow wild to 10 feet or prune it right after its spring growth for a perfect Christmas tree shape.

Now is a perfect for planting for those who use living trees as decorations during the holidays; they then mature into the landscape in spring.

Most conifers need surprisingly little water. Once these trees get up to size, our arid climate, dry soil, and extreme temperatures make them all the happier. This holds true for most other high country natives like pine, cypress, cedar, juniper and spruce.

Digging the right size planting hole and adding the correct soil amendments are critical for successful planting.

1 — The bowl-shaped hole should be the same depth as the root ball but three times as wide. Plants thrive when able to stretch out just under the soil’s surface, searching for food and water.

2 — Good mulch keeps clay soils loose and aerated, and loose granite will retain water better around the root ball. The amount of mulch per plant should be equal to the size of the root ball.

3 — Evergreen trees are so sensitive to soggy soil it’s recommended they be planted on a slight mound. The top of the root ball you see in the grower’s pot should still be able to see sunlight once planted.

4 — Evergreens need the right plant food for a healthy start. Feed with food specifically designed for Arizona’s mountain plants.

5 – Promote deeper roots with liquid rooting hormone when your new tree is watered. Use this root tonic once per month until new candle growth emerges this spring.

6 — Top dress the planting area with a 3-inch layer of shredded cedar bark to hold in moisture, keep weeds out and protect from extreme temperature swings.

Keep your tree moist, but allow it to dry between watering. Give it a thorough soak twice per month through winter. Once new growth is experienced, bump the watering schedule twice a week during the first growing season.