Home / Christmas Flower & Plant / How to Pick and Care for Real Christmas Trees: Choosing for Size, Shape, Scent, Needle-Drop and Ease of Care

How to Pick and Care for Real Christmas Trees: Choosing for Size, Shape, Scent, Needle-Drop and Ease of Care

Published by Eda Tator

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When the Norway Spruce was the only real Christmas tree on the market early needle drop was inevitable. Little wonder that when artificial trees were introduced they soon gained a large share of the market. Christmas tree growers have since hit back and introduced several new species which look attractive when decorated in the home at the festive season.

Natural trees have a presence and an aroma which not even the best artificial tree can come close to, but as living plants they need care and attention to keep them looking good for as long as possible.

Factors Determining the Size and Shape of the Christmas Tree

The height and width of the tree will be determined by the size of the room and all the other furnishings in the room. It should be in proportion, neither too small to appear insignificant, nor too large to look overbearing. The density of the trees branches is vital when it comes to decorating it. If the tree is too full of branches it makes it very difficult to hang lights and drape decorations. A good tree will have evenly spaced, nicely separated branches, which radiate around the trunk . The Christmas tree should be the focal point of the room.

The Most Common Christmas Trees Available

  • The Norway Spruce has been the traditional Christmas tree since Victorian times. It’s the most commonly cultivated spruce being conical when young and columnar in maturity. It has a fresh scent, but tends to shed its needles heavily and as a result has fallen from favour in recent years. Usually the cheapest.
  • The Nordmann fir is now the most popular tree due to its needle holding properties. It makes a columnar tree with tiered branches. It’s densely arranged rich green leaves have a dull white/silvery underside. It is more expensive due to its slow growth rate.
  • The Blue spruce makes a conical to columnar tree with scaly purplish-grey bark. There is a silvery-blue colour to the stiff, stout, sharp-pointed needles and an aromatic citrus scent.
  • The Fraser fir on the other hand has soft needles with staying power. it has a good shape and its branches are strong enough to support heavy ornaments.
  • The Scots pine has long twisted blue-green or yellow-green needles borne in pairs. They don’t drop readily from this bushy tree.

Caring for Christmas Trees in the Home

As part of their life cycle all conifers shed needles. The aim is to reduce this to the minimum over the Christmas period. When in the home Christmas trees should be treated like any living plant being brought into a warm dry atmosphere. Do not put the tree near a radiator or any direct source of heat.

 

Trees without Roots Also Known as Cut Trees

  • They must be fresh when bought.
  • Stand the tree outdoors in water in a cool shaded place until ready to bring indoors.
  • Saw about 2cm off the end of the butt to ensure the tree can take up water more easily.
  • Fix in a water-holding stand and top up with water daily.

Trees with Bare Roots

  • Only suitable for smaller trees which should be freshly lifted.
  • Soak the roots in water then pot the tree in moist soil.
  • Keep moist all the time.

Root-balled Trees

  • These trees are wrapped in sacking to keep earth around the roots.
  • Remove the sacking and pot into moist soil.
  • Keep well watered.

Container Grown Trees

  • These trees which will be no taller than 90cm should have been grown in their container for at least a year.
  • Water and care for them just as you would a house plant.

So Make the Choice and Enjoy Your Tree This Christmas

For a small tree in a container the tangy scented, but prickly blue spruce is a good choice. As a bonus after Christmas it can be planted in the garden to mature into a wonderful specimen tree. Where a large tree is required a cut Nordmann fir will look spectacular even before it is adorned with lights. For those with traditional tastes and a limited budget the Norway spruce despite its needle dropping habit is preferable to any artificial tree.

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