HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR POTTED CHRISTMAS TREE
Everything you need to know about pot-grown Christmas trees.
What's the best way to care for a potted Christmas tree both during the festive season and beyond?
A potted Christmas tree will have been grown for at least a year in its container, and so as it is a real Christmas tree, what you're really buying is a temporary houseplant. When buying one, find out if your potted Christmas tree is actually container-grown or has been recently dug up and potted, as there is often confusion between the two.
To put it simply, Harry Brightwell, British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) secretary explains to us: 'A container-grown tree has been grown in the pot. A potted tree may be container-grown, but is often dug from the plantation and replanted in a pot prior to sale.'
With container-grown trees, roots are developed in the container, so is said to be stronger and more healthy (as it hasn't been dug up). 'It is often possible to lift the whole root system out of the pot and see the closely woven root that has grown in the pot,' BCTGA told Horticulture Week.
Potted Christmas trees: expert advice
• You should bring your potted tree indoors as late as possible, the RHS advise. The weekend before Christmas is ideal, and it's advised not to keep living trees in the house for longer than 12 days.
• As with most houseplants, it's the watering that's the thing. Too much and your potted Christmas tree will die of 'trench foot', too little and the leaves will turn brown and fall. Always check that the container has good drainage and some sort of saucer underneath to catch any excess water.
• Avoid placing your tree close to a fire or radiator – this will cause excessive moisture loss and needle drop.
• It's best to check the soil every day to make sure it's not drying out; even small trees will have an awful lot of roots and if you knock the container off you'll see just how full of roots and how little soil there is.
• That is the main downside of container trees, the roots of all trees are pretty ferocious and the taller the tree the more roots are needed to keep the water supply going. So to work in containers, these trees tend to be pretty small, around 3-5 feet. Anything larger just isn't going to be happy in a pot and is going to be very difficult to manoeuvre.
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• And that's the issue about planting it in the garden and bringing it in again next year. Planting out will probably be fine – put it in a sunny spot and it'll grow well and put on a season of growth both in its branches and its roots. But once a tree gets to about six feet, the roots needed to sustain it are going to be more spread than can be put into a container. If you have to chop off a lot of the roots to bring it indoors next year, it may also be unstable once planted back out, so it might be a good idea to stake it in place firmly.
• When planted in the garden, it's important to place your potted Christmas tree in the right spot. Put fir trees in a sheltered spot as they like cool, moist conditions, and think about its position during hot summers, as it shouldn't be in direct sunlight. Also, ensure it's well watered during dry spells.
• One way to slow the growth during the year (of both the top and the roots) would be to keep it in its container, but it will need an awful lot of looking after especially through the summer to stop it drying out.
So, depending on the height of the tree, you may be able to plant it in the garden and then bring it in for one more season but it's unlikely to be feasible after that.
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