Ever thought to grow your own Christmas tree? Growing your own Christmas tree offers a number of benefits over buying at a local nursery or tree farm. The experience of nurturing and shaping the tree for years leading up to its harvest will help you and your family develop a sentimental sense of kinship to an evergreen that will serve as the focal point of your holiday decorations. It’s also a great learning experience for children, and caring for a large patch of trees makes for a great pastime that will provide you with a new Christmas tree every year. Here’s some basic advice to help you prepare for growing your own Christmas trees in the UK.
Consider Starting with a Rooted Tree from a Nursery
Did you know it takes about 6-9 years for an evergreen to reach a desirable height for a Christmas tree when started from seed? Luckily, it’s possible to skip the long wait by purchasing pre-rooted trees that are already a few feet tall from tree farms and nurseries. Carpenter’s Nursery in the St Albans area is a great example of a nursery where you can choose from a variety of trees that have been grown locally.
Choose a Type to Grow
Christmas trees can be split into three main categories – firs, pines, and spruces. The type you choose to grow should be based on personal preference and the planting zone you live in. The most popular firs grown in the UK are Fraser, Noble and Nordmann. Lodgepole and White pines are also common choices, as are Blue, Norway and White spruces. Be sure to research the appearance and growing requirements of each kind before deciding which type you’d like best. Many people choose a few different kinds to line up their Christmas tree variety for the coming years. Spruces tend to lose more needles and are less fragrant than firs, while pines hold the middle ground in terms of aroma and shedding.
Watering, Shaping, Pruning and Shearing
Although Christmas trees are generally low maintenance plants, you will need to stick to a watering, pest control, and shaping regimen to produce a tree that will be worthy of being called a Christmas tree. After a tree is more than a year old, it’ll be established enough to only require supplemental watering during drought periods. Once the tree is 2-3 years old, it’ll need to be pruned or sheared annually after flushing new growth, which typically occurs in the middle of summer. The goal is to keep the tree shaped like a Christmas tree so that it grows into that shape. Gradually maintaining the shape of the tree with proper shearing techniques will prevent you from having to make noticeably visible cuts to the exterior during its final season.
Recognising Disease and Pest Problems
It’s normal for evergreens to drop about 30% of their needles every year, so some shedding of the older interior needles is nothing to be alarmed about. However, if you begin to notice substantial shedding or discoloration of the outer needles, that could be a sign that your tree is suffering from a deficiency or pest problem that should be addressed as soon as possible.
Alex is a professional writer with a keen interest in gardening. He currently contributes written articles to various gardening websites such as Carpenters Nursery & Farm Shop.