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It’s not only turkeys have to die for Christmas! Perhaps fortunately for our forests, there is a growing (and worthy) trend towards buying live trees for Christmas. Unfortunately, Garden Centres, and even more so the DIY sheds and superstores, have jumped on this bandwagon by selling potted trees. What’s wrong with that? Read on.
Potted trees have been dug out of the ground a week or two earlier, they’ve had their roots hacked back to fit in a pot, and they have no more chance of surviving beyond Christmas than the conventional cut tree.
What you must find is a pot-grown tree. Reputable suppliers will have their trees labelled accordingly, but sadly a great many don’t. A pot grown tree has been grown in the container in which it is sold, and therefore has suffered no disturbance or abuse.
Capture this prize and take it home; but now its down to you, for this is just the beginning. It’s winter. Trees hibernate in winter, just like little cuddly bears and some people I know . . . So you take it into a nice warm centrally heated room and it wakes up. And gasps, dehydrating, crying for water, not just at its roots but in the atmosphere around it. How can you help?
If possible, put it in the coolest part of the house. Water it well, but don’t drown it - treat it like a thirsty house plant. And set it on a tray of gravel, and keep the gravel topped up with water. This will increase the humidity around the tree.
OK, thanks to your TLC, the tree has survived Christmas. What now? Don’t just suddenly bung it out into the frosty January winds. Remember, you’ve convinced your tree it’s summertime. Move it gradually out via the coolest places you can find. A cold greenhouse if you have one; or even the garage for a while if there’s a window to give it some light. Harden it off gradually like you would a tender bedding plant in the spring.
Still alive? Right, plant it in the garden if you wish, when the ground’s neither frosted nor waterlogged. But think carefully where you put it. Remember, Christmas trees are just baby forest conifers - sooner or later it will reach 60 or 80 feet. How will your foundations - or, indeed your neighbours - react to that?
Better perhaps to transplant it into a slightly bigger pot. Look after it on the patio until next December. Bring it in again - it’s part of the family now. Same again the following year. Eventually it will become too big and you’ll have to make a hard decision . . .
But in the meantime, think of all the trees which have lived, because you used the same one year after year!