Dig A Hole
1) Dig a planting hole for the tree early, before the soil freezes. Move the soil from the hole into a garage or shed where it won't freeze, and fill the hole with a mulch material such as leaves, straw, or peat moss. This keeps the surrounding soil unfrozen.
2) Leave the balled tree outside as long as possible, then move it into a cool garage a few days before bringing it into the house; this exposes the tree to a gradual temperature change.
Place In A Container
3) Place the tree in a container that allows you to keep the ball moist at all times; a large washtub is ideal. Do not allow it to stand in water, however.
Keep Temperatures Low
4) Keep the temperature as low as possible while the tree is inside. 60 F or cooler is best. Keep humidity as high as possible.
Keep Inside For Short Time
5) Keep the tree inside for as short a time as possible; 2 or 3 days, with 5 being the maximum. If kept in warm temperatures for too long, the dormant buds may begin new growth that will be killed when the tree is moved outdoors.
6) Use cool burning lights on the tree
Acclimate Back Outside
7) Before planting outdoors, leave the tree in a cool garage for a few days so it can become acclimated to the outdoor temperatures. After moving the tree back outside, plant it as you would normally, using peat moss and soil backfill.
8) Water thoroughly, and stake and guy if necessary. Cold soil temperatures will prevent much root growth from occurring until spring, so provide some kind of protection from drying winds and winter sun. Water the tree whenever there is a brief thaw.
9) Problems to keep in mind before buying a live tree include:
- heavy rootball, making the tree difficult to handle
- needs plenty of water while inside
- possible root damage
*Information from Ohioline.osu.edu