If you’re superstitious, you’ll have taken your Christmas decorations down long before Twelfth Night (January 6, the night before the Twelfth Day of Christmas), and they’re all back in their boxes in the attic. But just what are your plans for that Christmas tree dumped next to the shed, eh?
We spoke to the Royal Horticultural Society’s chief horticultural adviser, Guy Barter, to discover your options:
Get it out now - “The sooner you can get it outside - into the moist air - the better. They really don’t like being indoors,” says Barter. “You can keep them in a pot, but you will then need to water them regularly and give them liquid fertiliser. Or you can plant them in the ground and dig them up next December."
Prune it - “You often see quite large spruce trees, where people have planted their Christmas tree and it’s turned into a large tree, but it won’t grow into a large tree if you dig it up every year,” says Barter.
“You might also want to do a bit of pruning to keep its proper Christmas tree shape. Once they start growing in March, you can give them a bit of a prune. If they’re in a pot on a porous surface, you need to move it from time to time, so they don’t root into the ground underneath.”
Keep it growing
“Christmas trees are rather fun to grow, because they grow very willingly. If they’re in a pot, they’ll need repotting every year with some fresh soil – usually you replace about a third and that keeps the roots healthy. And give them a high nitrogen liquid feed at intervals during the summer. Look out for greenfly, they can be a bit of a pest and cause bare patches. Apart from that, they’ll look after themselves quite well.”
Chip it for fertiliser - “You can turn your tree into fertiliser by having it chipped or chipping it yourself if you own a garden shredder,” says Barter. “If you don’t have a chipper, a lot of councils offer chipping services and some garden centres do too. They will chip it and then they may or may not give these chips back.”
Leach it - “You generally leave the chippings for a few weeks until the end of February, for any harmful volatile compounds in the conifer to evaporate and break down. Then you can spread it around your trees and shrubs as a mulch and it will rot down quite quickly. It will be taken down into the soil by worms and other soil animals and improve the soil.”
Beware of bonfires - “If you burn your Christmas tree, you might upset your neighbours and many places don’t like bonfires anyway, it’s frowned upon,” warns Barter.
Get crafty - “I was browsing the internet and I saw someone in America was turning Christmas trees into walking sticks for veterans. I’m sure there are other clever people doing crafty things!”
Best supporting tree - “If you had a Christmas tree without roots, let it dry out then remove the branches to use as twiggy supports for plants in spring,” adds gardening expert Hannah Stephenson.