How to make your Christmas tree last longer

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Artificial Christmas trees can be used for more than a decade, but they don’t have the fluffy look and festive smell of a real tree. The only downside to real trees is that they eventually die and the needles dry up and scatter all over the floor. However, with a bit of TLC Christmas trees can last an extra week or two. chatted to Miracle-Gro’s gardening guru Kate Turner to find out how to make your Christmas tree last longer.

How to make your Christmas tree last longer

Pick the variety

Extending the life of a Christmas tree starts at selection- you have to pick the right variety.

Real Christmas trees are generally one of three species: fir, pine, or spruce.

Kate said: “Most people choose their tree based on cost, needle drop, and appearance.

“Traditionally, the Norwegian spruce was a consistent favourite in the UK, but non-drop varieties like the Nordmann and the aromatic Fraser fir have gained in popularity in recent years, as well as the Blue Spruce, valued for its contemporary coloured blue-grey needles.

“As a guide, firs and pines tend to hold their needles best, although certain varieties of spruce – the blue spruce, for example – can give them both a run for their money if watered regularly.”

However, Kate pointed out that central heating at home, as well as playful children and pets, will make its life a little shorter.

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Be picky

While shopping for a tree, get your magnifying glass out and really inspect the trees on offer.

Kate said: “Once you’ve decided on a variety, take some time to really look at the trees on offer.

“Some sellers will have trees that they’ve already put through a netting machine – a good space-saver for them, but it doesn’t allow the customer to really see what they’re getting.

“Make a beeline for trees that haven’t yet been netted, and have a close up look at the appearance of the branches.”

Branches will always be a little droopy, but brown is another story.

She said: “It’s normal for a new tree to drop a little when they’re moved, but avoid those with needles or branches that are beginning to turn brown.

“Try running your hand along the branch to see if the needles spring back – you could also try gently shaking to assess needle drop.”

Consider placement

Christmas trees need to be carefully placed in your home.

Consider where you place the tree, Kate advises keeping it away from a fire or radiator.

She said: “If you have a conservatory, consider placing the tree in there for 24 hours to acclimatise before bringing it into the main house.

“Allow enough room between the tree and your curtains to ensure the latter can be opened and closed freely – this will help to minimise needle drop.”

If you have pets, particularly cats, keep the tree away from climbable surfaces.

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Look after it

Just like you water a plant and make sure it gets lots of sunlight, you need to look after your Christmas tree.

Kate recommends keeping the tree outside for as long as possible, until you are ready to bring it indoors and decorate it.

She said: “Before bringing it indoors, make a fresh cut at the base of the trunk, by removing a circle of wood about 13-25mm (0.5-1in) thick.

“This will help the tree absorb water, stay fresh and reduce needle drop.

“Stand your tree in a water-holding tree stand – this will provide a good size water reservoir as well as good stability for your tree.”

A cut tree can easily drink 500ml of water a day, so keep refilling the pot daily.

She added: “Some people recommended adding vodka and lemon juice to stop bacteria forming, but pine bleach would work, too”

When it’s time to dispose of the tree, you can do this in an environmentally-friendly way.

Kate said: “Many local councils offer a free recycling service for Christmas trees, collecting them from pick up points in each neighbourhood.

“Check your council’s website ahead of schedule to ensure you don’t miss the pickup date.”

Alternatively, you could compost the tree yourself.

Kate explained: “While pines, firs and spruces can take quite some time to compost, you can speed up the process by cutting the tree up first and removing its needles – gloves recommended!”

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