How To Plant A Christmas Tree In The Garden

Ok, I know it’s the middle of the year and no-one wants to think about Christmas. But it will be here sooner than we think and always raises the question of sustainability when it comes to Christmas trees. We love to get a real tree – there is something magical about a real Christmas tree, whether it’s the unique look, the smell or the anticipation of adding lights and decorations and wondering what will be left underneath it on Christmas Eve.

Freshly cut Christmas trees have their place, but they’re not quite as charming as living trees at Christmas. Where cut trees need to be repurposed or disposed of when the festivities end, pot-grown Christmas trees can get planted in the garden in the new year.

Keeping a Christmas tree alive throughout the year means you can decorate it outdoors next Christmas or even bring the same tree indoors again next year. I’d love to have a tree up by the greenhouse for winter décor.

Imagine growing your own Christmas tree and watching as it flourishes and grows from year-to-year. You can find your perfect tree at Christmas Trees Direct.

What Christmas Trees Can Be Planted On?

Not all Christmas trees can get planted out. Freshly cut Christmas trees don’t have any roots and can’t survive in the ground. While many other plant cuttings can get rooted in water, this isn’t the case for cut trees. Rather than growing roots, the tree’s base will rot sitting in water. Planting a cut Christmas tree in the ground is equally pointless, as a tree needs a healthy root system to survive.

Pot-grown trees, on the other hand, are well suited to planting in the garden. Because the root ball is intact, there is a high success rate, and the tree is likely to not only survive but to flourish.

Potted Trees vs. Pot Grown Trees

You may wonder what the difference is between these two types of Christmas trees in pots. It’s a slight but important distinction which significantly impacts how well your tree will survive in the garden.

Potted trees have been grown in the ground before being dug up and placed in pots for transportation. On the other hand, pot-grown trees have been reared in their pots from seedlings and are unlikely to have suffered any root damage.

While potted Christmas trees might survive in the garden, it largely depends on how much of the root system was damaged or cut away during harvesting. There is no reliable way to know this until you try planting a Christmas tree out. 

The soil or sand used to fill the pot is also something to consider. Trees placed in compost will have a higher survival rate than those where sand has been used to weigh the pot down.

Container-grown trees may be smaller and more expensive but because the root ball is intact, they have a much higher chance of thriving in the garden after the festive season. Norway Spruce (Picea abies), Blue Spruce (Picea pungens), Fraser Fir (Abies fraseri) and Nordmann Fir (Abies nordmanniana) are all ideal choices for container-grown trees.

How To Keep Your Real Christmas Tree Healthy Indoors

Of course, the whole point of buying a living Christmas tree is to bring it inside to celebrate the festive season. However, trees are naturally suited to being outside and don’t always cope well with the conditions inside the home. 

Give your container-grown tree the best chance of survival by looking after it properly while it’s indoors.

  • Acclimatise the tree from the cold winter air by storing it in a garage or unheated greenhouse before bringing it into the house.
  • If possible, keep the tree in a cool room when it is brought inside. At least place it well away from heat sources such as fireplaces and radiators.
  • Keep the Christmas tree hydrated. Regular watering helps the tree hold its needles for longer. You might wish to use ice cubes for gradual watering.
  • Ensure the pot has adequate drainage holes to let excess water drain freely and help prevent root rot.
  • Avoid using heavy baubles that can weigh down the branches. Keep the decorations light to help minimise damage to the tree.

Caring for the tree while it is in the house helps boost its chances of survival when you come to plant the tree out in the garden. If the Christmas tree begins to look a bit tired or stressed, acclimatise it and move it back outside, even if this means you don’t get to enjoy it indoors for as long as you’d hoped.

How To Plant A Christmas Tree In Your Garden

When Christmas is over for another year, it’s time to consider planting the tree in the garden to make the most of it for years to come.

Preparing To Plant

A pot-grown Christmas tree isn’t likely to see the twelfth night indoors – after all, fir and spruce trees aren’t accustomed to dry air and central heating. Remove the decorations, and take the tree back outside as soon as possible after Christmas, not forgetting to re-acclimatise it to the cold and damp in the garage or greenhouse.

The next thing to do is decide where to replant your Christmas tree. Choose a sheltered position out of strong winds, and bear in mind that a Christmas tree can grow to an impressive size, so leave plenty of space for new growth. A bright spot out of direct sunlight is ideal. Most types of Christmas trees, such as Fraser firs, tolerate most soil types as long as the soil isn’t prone to waterlogging.

Wait until a slightly warmer day, when the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged, and water the tree thoroughly while it remains in the pot. Doing this hydrates the roots and makes it easier to remove the tree from the container.

Planting The Tree

Dig a hole that is slightly wider and deeper than the root ball. Carefully remove the tree from its pot and place it in the hole. At this point, it’s helpful to have a second person to hold the tree upright and ensure it is straight.

Fill the hole around the tree with fresh soil and press it down firmly. Add some organic mulch to help the soil retain moisture and protect the roots from frost. Water the newly planted tree well.

Watering And Feeding Christmas Trees

Once established, Christmas trees planted in the garden need little to no maintenance. However, while your tree is getting used to its new home, a little TLC will help it to survive.

Water the tree regularly for the first year, especially during dry spells, and ensure the soil drains freely. Apply fertiliser during the tree’s growing season to boost new growth and get the tree off to the best start. Specialist tree fertilisers are ideal, but an all-purpose liquid feed is also fine.

Repotting A Christmas Tree For The Garden

Once your tree has successfully established in the garden, it’s best to leave it there. You can always decorate it with solar-powered fairy lights next season.

If you’d prefer to bring the same tree back inside next Christmas, it’s best to keep the tree in its pot to prevent root damage and stress from it being dug back up. Like with any live Christmas tree, ensure you acclimatise it to the cold before taking it outside and placing it in a sheltered area of the garden.

Obviously, trees grow, and you may find your tree needs moved into a bigger pot. The best time to do this is early spring. If the tree looks like it’s too large for its container or you notice the roots are growing out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, the time has come to repot your Christmas tree.

How To Repot A Christmas Tree

Choose a new pot that is around 10cm bigger than the current container, and make sure it has plenty of drainage holes in the bottom. Add some well-draining soil to the bottom, then gently remove the tree from its current pot. Loosen the roots a little and place the root ball in the new pot, filling the gaps around it with fresh soil. Water the tree well to help it settle in its new home.

Looking After A Tree In A Pot

Bear in mind that a tree planted in a pot won’t be able to absorb as much moisture from the soil as one planted in the ground. This means it’s essential to keep on top of watering. Check the soil to ensure it doesn’t completely dry out, and water it frequently during dry spells.

Feeding the tree with quality fertiliser during the growing season helps keep the needles vibrant and bright, and improves the success rate of trees remaining healthy for at least a few years (trees kept in pots don’t tend to live as long as those in the ground.)

Christmas trees don’t generally require pruning. But, if you want to keep a neat, symmetrical Christmas tree shape, they respond well to trimming. The key is to trim the branches a little and often, as this is the easiest way to maintain the attractive natural shape.

Planting a Christmas tree in the garden when you’re done with it is the most environmentally-friendly way to enjoy a festive tree in the home. Bring it inside when Christmas arrives and move it back to its natural habitat when the winter festivities come to an end, and enjoy your fabulous tree all year round.

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