How often do you buy a fresh Christmas Tree and are delighted with your new festive adornment, only to be disappointed to find its nearly bald by Christmas?!
With many of us living in centrally heated homes keeping your tree fresh and alive until Christmas can be a challenge. There are however a number of things you can do to prolong its lifespan and to help you get the best out of your tree.
So, here are a few hints and tips:
First of all - if you want a tree to last, but it from a reputable supplier. Members of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association provide high quality Christmas Trees. Trees which are bought directly from members are grown in accordance with the BCTGA environmental Code of Practice and are guaranteed fresh. Provided care is taken in looking after the tree the tree should survive over 4 weeks. Trees should not be purchased earlier than 1st December if guaranteed satisfaction is demanded.
It is part of the life cycle of the conifer tree that it sheds needles and they will accelerate that shedding particularly if they dry out. Some trees do so more quickly than others. The best way to ensure satisfaction is to care for the tree while it is in your home. A tree should be treated like any plant being brought into a warm, dry atmosphere.
It is essential that cut trees should be fresh when purchased. The needles should not be dull and dried up. The branches should not be brittle. The outer needles should not fall off if the tree is gently shaken.
After you have bought your tree it should be kept outside in a cool shaded place, preferably standing in water, until it is required indoors. Before bringing the tree indoors it is an advantage if about half an inch is cut off the butt in order to open up the pores of the tree. Mount it in a water-holding stand or wedge it in a bucket with pebbles, small stones or screwed up newspaper, and place it away from direct heat. Keep the container topped up with water every day; you will be surprised how much it needs.
Trees with bare roots...
These are trees which have been extracted with their roots. This is usually only possible with the smaller trees. The small roots break off and no soil comes with the larger root system. They should be freshly harvested. It is best to soak the roots in water before potting the tree in moist earth. The earth should be kept moist. These trees will last longer if they are kept away from direct heat when they are brought indoors. There is a slight chance that these trees will survive if planted out after Christmas. They should be watered very well.
These are trees that have been carefully prepared so that they can be dug up with minimal disturbance the earth round the root system. Earth is retained by wrapping the roots in sacking or similar material. The roots should be kept damp and the trees, having had the sacking removed, should be potted in moist earth. These trees should remain fresh, retain their needles, and have a reasonable chance of survival if planted out after Christmas.
Container grown trees...
These are trees that have been grown for at least one season in their pots. It is often possible to lift the whole root system out of the pot and see the closely woven root which has grown in the pot. The trees themselves should look fresh. The trees will be small and seldom more than three foot. The trees should be watered and cared for as for any house plant.
After Christmas they can either be planted out with a very good chance of success or they can be left to grow on in their pot, but it is much better in this case to re-pot the tree in a larger pot.