Tips for December – the beginning of Winter

Selecting your Christmas tree

  • Needles should be green and flexible. Lift the tree off the ground a few inches, and drop it in the cut-end – you should not see needles fall to the ground.

  • Make sure to ask for a “fresh cut” before leaving the lot.

  • Cut-Your-Own farms provide trees – as well as the experience of walking around in the crisp, cool weather of the season. Freshness is guaranteed!

  • You may want to consider a living Christmas tree (one that is balled-and-burlapped). After the holiday, the tree can be planted as a permanent part of your landscape, and bring memories of your holiday for years to come. It is advisable to dig the hole to plant the tree in early – before the ground freezes.

Caring for your Christmas tree

  • Your tree may absorb a gallon of water the first day.

  • Treat the tree like a bouquet of cut flowers and keep it watered. Put the tree in a location where it is not likely to be knocked over – and away from hit air ducts, wood stoves, fireplaces, etc. Make sure light cords are in good condition.

  • After the holidays, dispose of the tree where it will be used for organic matter versus sending it to the landfill with other household garbage. Most locations offer tree-pickup.

Indoor Plants

  • Houseplants are semi-dormant now unless they are growing under plant lights.

  • Do not fertilize and don’t over water.

  • Check plants periodically for spider mites, mealy bugs and scale insects.  Prevention is the best way to protect plants.  If you catch them early, sometimes just washing the plant with warm water and a small amount of insecticidal soap will remove these pests.

  • You can start a pot of paper whites in pebbles and water, laced with a touch of alcohol to keep them from growing leggy.  Start a new pot every two weeks for a continuous display.

Contact the Loudoun County Master Gardener Help Desk with your questions:  703-771-5150 or

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