How Do You Take Care of a Real Christmas Tree?
The temptation to get a Christmas tree in early is high, especially when times aren't quite as rosy as they could be! But when it come to real Christmas trees, earlier is not better, and really, the latest that you can leave it, the better.
But we've been growing and selling Christmas trees now for 10 years, and as long as you take good care of your tree, it can last for the whole season, even if you put it up advent weekend.
So, how do you take care of a real Christmas tree?
The first best thing you can do, is ask the following questions to the people who are selling the trees.
1. Where are the trees gown?
If they aren't grown in this country, they've come in from abroad. That means that they've been cut since October. The longer the tree has been cut, the drier they become, and it is when they are dry that they will drop their needles. If they are UK, they are much fresher, as most UK growers won't cut until there's been a frost on the trees to harden them. Cutting nationally would usually start around the second week of November, so they're already much fresher than those coming in from abroad.
2. How often do they get tree deliveries?
Once you know your Christmas tree is UK grown, double check when their tree delivery came in. Some of the bigger garden centres will have been stocking trees since the middle of November, but if they only have one or two deliveries in, you know those trees aren't the freshest to begin with. Others will have weekly deliveries, so it's worth checking, to make sure you're getting the freshest tree possible to start with.
Once you've located a tree that you're told is fresh, just run your hand along the branch. If a lot of the needles are coming off in your hand, then that Christmas tree isn't as fresh as you've been led to believe, and won't last til Christmas either. The odd needle coming off isn't an issue, but if a lot of the branch comes away, that's a bad sign.
The above questions obviously don't apply if you're getting your tree from a cut your own farm.
The first step in caring for your real Christmas tree
Get your tree netted before leaving the shop. Whilst you might think leaving it loose would be kinder, by containing it all tightly, this stops the needles and branches getting damaged whilst moving your tree between the shop and your home. All decent Christmas tree retailers will have netting machines available and will do this free of charge for you.
When you get the perfect Christmas tree home, leave it outside for as long as you can, but only if you're able to. Keeping a real tee cool, and outside where it can absorb the damp will help extend its life.
There are two factors to take into account when caring for your real Christmas tree
Heat and water.
Water is really important for taking good care of your real Christmas tree
So making sure you have a receptacle to stand the tree in that will hold water is crucial. We highly recommend the Cinco stands that we sell in the shop, as these hold plenty of water.
To make sure the real Christmas tree can absorb as much water as possible whilst in the stand, use these hacks to maximise the time your Christmas tree stays fresh.
Before you put the tree in to the stand, trim a small disc off the bottom. This removes the hardened wood from when it was cut, and allows the tree to take in water easier. You could if you like, also add a cross in to the bottom, which will allow water to seep up into the trunk.
You don't need to add a cross this with our trees as they're drilled up into the tree, to help them sit on the display pins and to absorb water whilst in the shop.
Once you've got your Christmas tree in the pot and before you start decorating, make sure you fill up the stand with plenty of water. Instead of water, Gwilym swears by lemonade or sugary water, using the same principle as for flowers that glucose is good for trees. Despite looking before writing this article, I've found no scientific evidence that this works, just customer reviews from those who've been doing it for years!
The real secret to taking care of a real Christmas tree though...
is that the real Christmas tree then needs to be kept well watered.
A cut tree can drink at least a pint of water every day, so make sure you've got a method of watering the tree sorted out.
We use a piece of hose, with a funnel, and a medium size jug. The hose actually stays in the pot and is hidden towards the back of the Christmas tree, so that we can get to it (fairly) easily.
The unknown enemy of trying to keep your real Christmas tree fresh
Most people know about their real trees needing water. It's the same with cut flowers too, isn't it? If you didn't put them in water, they'd die.
But as with flowers, so too with real Christmas trees, the heat can be just as damaging.
Those beautiful lifestyle and interior glossy magazines are buggers for misleading us. The Christmas tree next to the real fire which is roaring away. The epitome of cosy Christmas.
But actually, that intense level of heat will make the needles curl up and dry out. Although they won't fall off. But the tree will absolutely honk, as though something has died next to it.
And underfloor heating isn't too much better. Although the heat isn't nearly so intense, you do have to make sure that you check the water levels
every day. Spritzing the needles every couple of days can also be a great idea to keep them nourished.
Try to keep your real Christmas tree as far away from the central heating radiators as you can go too.
Apart from the heat inside, don't forget the heat outside. Trees in windows that face the sun will also be warm through the glass, and this can help make a tree go brittle. In honesty, the sun isn't so strong at this time of year to make a big difference, but when coupled with underfloor heating for example, can be more of an issue.
If there really is no where else to put it, just remember that the warmer the room, the more water you'll need, and more regularly too!
I hope that this guide helps you to take care of your real Christmas tree this year, and that you enjoy your Christmas!
- Annabelle Summerfield