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Christmas tree

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Can I Plant my Christmas Tree in the Garden after Christmas?

There is no doubting it, a real Christmas tree really does set the perfect scene and make the holidays feel all the more festive and joyful. Care for your Christmas tree in the right way, and it will see you good until the season is over. But what to do with the tree you’ve become attached to once the New Year has rung in and the decorations have been packed away?

Lots of people ask if they can plant their Christmas tree out in the garden. The thinking is, you can continue to enjoy it year-round, then maybe decorate it all over again next year. Maybe it could provide shelter for birds during the winter, or make a feature for your garden. Why not? But is it actually possible to plant and keep a Christmas tree alive? Here’s the lowdown.

If you have purchased a cut Christmas tree, then you’ll have no chance of keeping it alive. Without any roots, a tree cannot grow. There will be no miracle root-sprouting from the cut stem. It just won’t happen. Christmas trees are cut down several weeks or sometimes even months before the festive season, but even a freshly cut tree once separated from its roots won’t take.

Christmas tree
Is it possible to plant and keep a Christmas tree alive?

What Christmas trees can be planted on?

The only Christmas trees that can be planted out are those that are sold with a healthy root ball that has been well wrapped in hessian. These are the more expensive Christmas trees, but they will serve you onwards of the festive season, providing you care for them in the right way.

Christmas trees tend to be Norway spruce (Picea abies), Nordmann fir (Abies nordmanniana) or Colorado spruce (Picea pungens), although other species sometimes make it onto the market. The Nordmann fir is probably the most popular these days as it tends to have more horizontal, dense branches than the Norway spruce, and is less likely to shed needles when in a warm environment.

Any of these trees purchased with a healthy root ball, then you have a good chance of planting on once they’ve served their role as Christmas tree.

Norway spruce
A Norway spruce is one of the species of Christmas tree that can be planted on if it is sold with a root ball.

How to plant a Christmas tree in your garden

Your tree with its nice root ball must be planted as soon as possible after Christmas. Definitely no later than the first day of the New Year. You can keep it in a pot of compost, as long as it’s kept in the cold and damp. Alternatively, you can plant it in the ground.

You’ll need a nice deep hole, around 30cm (1ft) deep by a metre (3ft) wide. Loosen the bottom and sides and place the tree in the centre. Pack the soil around the roots and firm it all down well. Give it a generous watering, then keep it watered throughout the winter and first year. You’ll need to mulch it well too for five years.

To protect against the wind, stake the tree with a post set at an angle of 45 degrees. You can remove this after three years, by which time the tree should have developed its own wind defence.

Christmas tree
It is important to follow the correct process when planting a Christmas tree.

Can I grow a fir tree from Christmas tree cuttings?

In theory it is possible to grow a Christmas tree from cuttings, however it’s not an easy task, so be prepared.

Cuttings need to be taken from a young, freshly cut tree. So if your Christmas tree has been cut weeks before you buy it, you’re not going to get very far.

You’ll need to cut a few stems, around the diameter of a pencil, then strip the needles from the bottom halves. Prepare a potting mixture of peat, perlite and fine bark at a ratio of 3:1:1, and add a sprinkle of slow-release dry fertiliser, and moisten. Dip your stems in rooting powder, then plant in the mixture. Don’t let the stems or needles touch each other, and keep the needles above the mixture. Place in a greenhouse until spring or summer when you might start to see some new growth. When you do, you can transplant each stem into its own individual container using a planting-on mix and slow release fertiliser. Only put them out when they are large enough to stand up to the British weather.

Christmas pine tree
Always remember the towering heights than spruce and pine trees can grow to.

What to consider when planting a Christmas tree in the garden

You may think of your Christmas tree as something compact enough to fit into your living room. But the truth is that it’s not going to stay like this. A Norway spruce for example can easily grow to a towering height of 200ft, surviving frosts and harsh weather. The Nordmann fir can grow even taller, sometimes 225ft. It is therefore vital that you think carefully about where you plant your Christmas tree.

Think:

  • Will the tree block your light from the house as it grows?
  • Will it prevent ground plants and grass from enjoying much needed sunlight and air flow?
  • Will the branches encroach on a neighbouring garden, or on public land?

It is vital that any type of fir or pine tree is kept well-pruned to prevent it growing out of control. Professional pruning b a qualified tree surgeon is recommended so that the tree maintains its beautiful appearance, whilst remaining healthy and nicely controlled. This is something TH Trees Limited can help you with so please feel free to get in touch should you need some assistance.

What to do with a Christmas tree with no roots?

If you’ve purchased a Christmas tree without roots, your options are limited to taking it to the local council recycling facility, or chopping it up and using the branches to support your planting. Don’t be tempted to ‘donate’ it to your local nature reserve or woodland, as the pine needles will not support wildflowers or wildlife in any way, and as they grow to such great heights, they’ll overshadow all the lower level native shrubs and trees and prevent them from thriving.

For expert advice on any aspect of fir or pine tree care, you are welcome to contact our helpful experts.

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