Notcutts in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells share advice on how to take care of a real Christmas tree
Have you got a real Christmas tree at home and are now wondering how best to help it last through the festive season?
Around seven million real Christmas trees are bought across the country each year, with Notcutts, which has branches in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, selling around 20,000.
Head of plants Colin Dale says the current trend for putting decorations up earlier and earlier means that families wanting a real tree must be sure to take good care of it.
He said: “Our real trees arrive at our garden centres from mid-November onwards, and we are seeing a growing trend of people buying their real trees earlier so they can enjoy them for longer over Christmas. To keep your tree looking fresh and beautiful for several weeks, it will need to be carefully chosen, well positioned at home and regularly watered.”
Fresh cut trees sold in Notcutts in Kent are grown in Scotland and for every tree cut and brought to the county, says the garden centre, two or three new trees are planted in its place.
If you're buying a real tree this weekend here are five top tips for taking care of it...
1. Choosing your style
There’s a wide range of Christmas tree varieties, but some are better at lasting the season than others.
The Nordmann Fir is a best seller in Kent. The hardy species is grown in the Scottish Highlands, benefitting from ideal, frosty weather conditions for producing a minimal needle drop once cut.
Shoppers may also consider a potted Christmas tree - which will have either been dug up with some of the roots, or grown in the soiled pot it comes with, for some time. It is worth remembering that potted trees can be replanted in the garden when Christmas is over - the Fraser Fir is a popular potted choice with its soft, greyish needles and a beautiful scent.
2. Check the quality
To test a tree’s quality, loosely run your fingers through its branches. A freshly cut tree should feel slightly sticky to the touch and should not drop too many needles.
Make sure you closely examine the needles too - they should generally be shiny, green and supple. Many brittle or brown needles indicate a tree is dry and is therefore unlikely to last the festive season.
3 Take a good look
For extra peace of mind, gently lift the whole tree and tap the trunk a few times on the floor. It’s fine if the tree drops a few needles, but the loss of many green needles could signify a problem. You should also take this opportunity to spin the tree round to check for any bare or unsightly patches you dislike. And don't forget to check that the height and width of the tree is suitable for your home.
4. Prepare your base
To keep a tree fresh and to aid water absorption, use a handsaw to cut a 1-2cm slice off the bottom of the tree trunk. Secure your tree in its base, ensuring it has a water container, and fill it with water straight away. You must continue to water it once a day to keep the tree hydrated.
5. Location, location, location
Choosing a good location in the home can make a huge difference on the longevity of your tree.
Keep the tree away from heat sources, such as fireplaces or radiators, to prevent the tree from prematurely drying out, and avoid standing it in areas of heavy traffic to minimise people brushing past the tree (particularly children and pets). It’s also a good idea to place the tree away from direct sunlight to prevent any needle discoloration.