Tips and advice on looking after your Christmas tree

Mulched Christmas Trees.jpg 

The argument in favour of real Christmas trees is overwhelming. The only debate on the issue is manufactured debate. Of course a locally grown, natural tree, that returns to the soil after a life of providing a refuge to wildlife, is superior to a bundle of non-degradable plastic shards made in a poisonous atmosphere on the other side of the world! This photo shows how trees are shredded in January, soon to be raked over the ground to provide a mulch in a woodland environment, return their nutrients to the soil.

January 2020. Each year, we sell around 600 Christmas trees, and most of our staff purchase our own trees, so we are pretty familiar with Christmas trees, and how to care for them! Each January we hear back from a handful of customers who are disappointed that their tree went dry, yellow or even lost needles faster than they expected. There is a syndrome which affects Nordmann fir called 'sudden needle drop', where most needles literally fall off over the course of a few hours. This affects less than 1% of trees, and if it does happen to you, please let us know and we'll replace your tree.

Most Christmas trees sold these days in Ireland are fir trees (Abies). These are what are commonly referred to as 'non shed'  trees'. Back in the old days in Ireland, Spruce was the most common Christmas tree. It has a great fragrance, but shorted, pricklier needles which trend to fall off pretty early. The trees that we sell most of are Nordman fir, Which has lovely glossy dark green needles and a dense, triangular Christmas tree shape. Noble fir is also popular, with blue-grey needle colour, and somewhat less-dense branch structure and a superior 'Christmas tree fragrance'.

Our trees are grown in West Wicklow, and have been lovingly pruned throughout their lives so that they are evenly shaped and nicely proportioned. Trees are graded by size and by quality, and the trees that we order are all 'premium grade', most of which are exported to Europe. Trees that are in any way imperfect are divided into lesser grades and end up in supermarkets or 'box stores'. They cost a little less, but generally have something a bit wrong with them such as gappiness, uneven branch structure or a curving part in the stem.

Take our advice in order to keep your tree looking green and fresh right into January:

  1. Don't buy your tree/ bring it into your house too early. Trees cannot stay looking good indoors for more than 2 or 3 weeks. So if you bring your tree into your house at the start of December, you are expecting too much of it.
  2. Use a tree stand that contains water. This means that the tree absorbs water from the base, keeping it fresher - just like putting a flower stem in a vase. We recommend Krinner tree stands, which are exceptionally easy to use, have a water reservoir, and even an indicator showing when the water level runs low.
  3. Before putting the tree into the tree stand with water, remove approx 1 inch from the base in order that the tree can properly absorb the water. If you don't do this, the tree will sit in water, but won't be able to absorb it.
  4. Keep in mind that modern houses are much warmer than they were a couple of decades ago. Underfloor heating, central heating and heat exchange units all make for drier, warmer air. Although a tree is officially 'dead' at the time of purchase, it is still breathing and transpiring (ie water is passing through its system). The warmer and drier the house, the faster the tree will dry out. So, if possible, place it in a spot that is away from heat. Underfloor heating in particular will hasten the decline of your tree.
  5. Shake the tree vigorously before bringing it indoors, and ruffle the branches. This will remove leaves, loose needles and also any creepy crawlies that may be in the foliage. Keep in mind that the tree has come fresh from the forest, so there are all sorts of other living things within it. Some of these can even be 'wakened' by the warmth of the indoors, so be aware of this.
  6. Regardless of when you purchase your tree, the majority's of trees will have been cut in late November or early December. Therefore, buying late doesn't exactly mean that your tree is fresher. On the other hand, buying late does mean that your tree has been outdoors since it was cut. If you like to buy your tree early, do so, but keep it in the garden for a couple of weeks. Then, trim the base and bring it indoors and into its water stand a week or two before Christmas.