Sunday 27 November 2011


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So, you have opted to buy a real Christmas tree this year.  Great, but now you are worrying how it is going to last until the week before Christmas, let alone until Christmas day itself.  Cut Christmas trees have limited lifespan but there are some simple measures you can take to help prolong the life of your tree, and hence your enjoyment of Christmas.

Cut live trees do not have a root system to support them, and therefore cut trees cannot replace water lost through evaporation and transpiration.  To compensate for this irreplaceable water loss, the tree will start to shed leaves (needles) in an attempt to save itself because no one has told the tree itself that its roots have been removed and its life is now very limited.

By compensating for this water loss you can slow down the loss of needles on your Christmas tree.  However you need to be quick as water loss starts the moment trees are cut down in the field.  If you buy a tree that has been cut several weeks earlier and has been hanging around until you purchase it then you will have only limited success.

Some species of tree are better at holding their needles than others so consider if you want a traditional Christmas tree, Norway spruce Picea abies, or to select a more robust tree such as Nordman fir Abies nordmanniana, Douglas fir Pseudotsuga menziesii, Fraser fir Abies fraseri, Scots pine Pinus sylvestris or blue spruce Picea pungens.
Once you have purchase your tree and got it home then the following tips will help to prolong the life of your tree:
  • Ensure you make a fresh cut 3-5cm from the base.  Ensure the cut is clean - if you damage the cambium bark around the trunk you will inhibit the uptake of water.
  • Place the tree in a container of water to allow some water to be taken up by the tree. Keep the tree outside in cooler temperature until you are ready to bring it into the house to decorate.
  • Christmas tree stands with a reservoir of water help to keep the tree hydrated and are effective, but remember to top up regularly.
  • Position the tree in a cool area and not next to a radiator or in direct sunlight!  The cooler the tree, the less water will be lost through transpiration and evaporation.
  • Low voltage or LED produce little heat so help reduce water loss through the needles.
  • Spray the underside of your tree with needle fast spray to block the stomata (the pores through which water escapes), therefore reducing water loss.

For related articles click onto:
Brussels sprouts
Christmas cake
Christmas mince pies
Christmas puddings
Growing Christmas trees
How to grow mistletoe from seed
How to keep your cut Christmas tree
Recipe for Christmas pudding
What is Christmas?
What is mistletoe?

Why do we kiss under the mistletoe?
Strudel recipe
Spiced brussels sprouts

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