How to keep your Christmas Tree fresh and prevent needle loss.

Over recent years, scientists at the Forestry Commission discovered that it is possible to encourage a CUT Christmas tree to drink water and so prevent the drying out process that leads to the tree dropping needles. Even without roots, the tree continues to drink water via pores in its butt and therefore stays fresh despite the effects of central heating. The Christmas tree takes up water by capillary action in the same way as a cut flower. Just like a cut flower, it is absolutely essential that you put your tree in plain water (not a soil or sand mix) and keep that water topped up throughout the Christmas period.

Care of the cut Christmas Tree

A Christmas tree should be treated like any cut flower or plant being brought into a warm, dry atmosphere.

Cut Christmas Trees
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.

  • If you are not erecting your Christmas tree immediately, store your tree in a cool, wind-sheltered spot
  • Trim any low branches to ensure that the tree will fit in your stand.
  • As soon as possible after this, stand the Christmas tree in plain warm water, not soil or sand, in a bucket or a water holding stand.
  • Try to place your Christmas tree in its water-holding stand away from any direct heat.
  • Keep the Christmas tree stand topped up with water every day. Christmas trees may drink 2-3 pints of water a day. It is essential to keep doing this as once the water drops below the trunk, sap will reseal pores in the tree’s butt and prevent the tree from taking up any more water.

Pot grown Christmas trees

These are Christmas trees that have been grown in their pots especially for the Christmas period with the added advantage of still having their roots and therefore will continue if watered to transpirate and rehydrate in their natural way. The trees will be small and seldom more than 200 cm (six foot). These Christmas trees should be carefully watered and cared for as for any house plant but do remember to place a tray under the pot to protect your carpet – the pot like any plant pot has holes in it. If the compost becomes dry the tree will suffer the consequences. Please acclimatize your pot grown tree carefully when taking out of the house especially if it is very cold, placing in a sheltered area out of the wind and freezing temperatures is important. Remember to keep watering it when it leaves the house, once the compost becomes dry it is difficult to re moisten and water may run off the top of the compost, if this happens you will need to saturate in a large water bath for 30 mins. Care should be taken when handling these trees as they will be heavy, please lift with care.

If you plan to keep your pot grown tree going through the summer it may need re potting and will certainly need feeding and careful watering through the growing season. The trees like any other plant can suffer an aphid attack, more common on the Norway and Blue spruce however the Nordman fir can also be seen with aphid at any time of year. Slight needle drop can be experienced post Christmas when placing your tree outside, however severe needle drop will indicate either lack of water or possibly an aphid infestation. A honeydew secretion on the needles looking like dew but remaining all day is a telltale sign of aphid, if left the affected areas will grow a black sooty mold which whilst not killing the tree will look unattractive. The Norway spruce is most likely to attract aphid problems and if experiencing the above symptoms it will be green spruce aphid that is the cause. They can also cause a discolouration and defoliation. As the aphid are often very small and have great camouflage the best way to test for them is to hold a piece of paper underneath the foliage and give a couple of sharp taps on the branches above. Aphid controlling products are available from garden centres, however a weak solution of water and washing up liquid can produce a short term knock down effect but can be difficult to apply effectively to dense foliage.

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How to Measure your tree for the house

Plan the location of your tree carefully away from heat sources and measure taking into account the fact it will be on a stand.
Our cut trees are measured from where the tree is cut to where the top whorl of branches touches the leader when folded up, there will often be a further few inches to the top of the leader above this but you can cut that off down to the point where the top whorl meets the leader and the tree will still remain in proportion.