Christmas, How To, Zoe

how to care for your Christmas Tree

A real Christmas tree can be a beautiful centre piece during the festive season, and is certainly the object of admiration from family and friends who come to visit. But problems can arise when your tree starts to wilt in the heat, drop needles and lose its colour.

Did you know that when natural trees are stressed they begin to shed their needles in an effort to save themselves from dehydration?

In order to keep your tree in tip top condition, and avoid an abundance of needles across your floor, follow our easy steps to keep your tree looking fantastic through to New Year!


Top Tips

  • After you’ve picked your favourite tree you need to cut about half an inch off the bottom of the trunk. Someone may do this for you at the retailer, but if not you can do it yourself easily at home. This will let your tree absorb more water and remain fresher for longer.
  • Within eight hours of cutting the bottom of the tree you need to get it in water, and your tree will be very thirsty! Your tree may need up to 3 litres on the first day, and regular watering every day after this.
  • Do not remove any bark from the tree in an attempt to squeeze it into a container. Most of the water absorption comes from just under the bark, so your tree will dehydrate much quicker if you do this.
  • Some people suggest putting an aspirin in the water to help the tree, or perhaps fizzy drinks such as lemonade that will help your tree absorb some water and help it look extra lovely. BE CAREFUL putting aspirin in your water if you think a curious cat may want to have a sip from it however.
  • Allow your tree to rest for a while before you decorate it, the longer you can leave it the better, preferably twenty four hours.
  • If the foliage on your tree is quite dense, try snipping a few of the branches back to the trunk. This will create a tidier image, but will also save your tree from wasting water on more branches.
  • Place your tree in a cool place. Having your tree next to a fireplace or radiator will dry out your plant.
  • Try to use low voltage fairy lights when you decorate your tree. Larger lights will warm up the branches surrounding it and cause water loss.
  • Keep on top of collecting the fallen pine needles. These can be hazardous for infants or pets if swallowed or stuck in the skin!
  • Lastly, you might find using a Christmas tree spray may help to retain moisture in the branches. You could also try spraying hairspray on the underside of the tree, HOWEVER this will make the tree much more flammable so only do this with great  care.

Christmas Tree Decoration

 

If you follow these steps your tree should remain healthy for up to four weeks and be the envy of all your family and friends!

Haven’t bought your Christmas tree yet? Check out our expert advice on how to spot the perfect Christmas tree.

Zoe at PrimroseZoë works in the Marketing team at Primrose, and is passionate about all things social media.

After travelling across Europe and Asia, Zoë is intrigued by different cultures and learning more about the world around her. If she’s not jet setting, Zoë loves nothing more than curling up with a good book and a large glass of red wine!

She is an amateur gardener but keen to learn more and get stuck in!

See all of Zoë’s posts.

Celebrations And Holidays, Christmas, How To, Zoe

Real Christmas Tree

With the arrival of frosty mornings and Christmas songs on the radio, now is the time to consider what type of Christmas tree you want this year. Artificial trees are great value for money as they can be re-used for years to come, however many people still prefer the aroma and natural look of a real tree.

If you need a helping hand with spotting the perfect spruce or fir, here’s a comprehensive guide on picking the perfect natural tree to fill your home with festive joy all the way to New Year.

Which Christmas Tree?

Firstly, you need to decide what kind of Christmas tree you want this year, here’s a lowdown on the different types available.

Norway Spruce – This type of tree is often regarded as the traditional Christmas tree. It is pyramid in shape with mid to dark green needles, and is an affordable option. However, they tend to drop a lot of needles in an indoor environment.

Nordmann FirThis type of tree is often a very popular choice due to its strong branches and soft needles. It doesn’t tend to drop as many needles, and has dark green foliage.

Blue SpruceSimilar to the Norway Spruce, the Blue Spruce has stiff needles, but has a slight blue hue in the foliage. It is an elegant choice with better needle retention.

Fraser FirAlso a pyramid shaped tree, with soft foliage. This tree tends to be best for limited spaces as it is generally narrow with denser foliage.

Once you’ve decided which tree will best suit your home, you get to do the fun part of picking the tree! This can be a fun activity for the whole family to visit your local tree farm and get into the festive cheer.

Healthy Christmas Tree

Our Top Tips for Picking the Best Christmas Tree

  • If you’re able, try to visit a tree farm where you can pick a tree that’s still in the ground. This is preferable as this tree is likely to last much longer than a tree that’s been cut a while ago.
  • Measure! Before you leave your house to start your adventure remember to measure the space where you want to place the tree. And remember to leave a few inches at the top of the tree for a star/angel.
  • Before you leave the house, cover the floor where you want your Christmas tree to be. This will not only help to protect your floor but also absorb any water spillages once you start to water your tree.
  • Bring gloves with you to the tree farm. This is so the needles do not hurt you when you transport the tree home.
  • Now for the fun part…picking the tree! You want to look out for a tree with a bright, even colour throughout. This means it is healthy and happy.
  • Check the needles – give the tree a gentle shake and see how many needles fall. A little fall of needles is normal, but if there’s a lot it might be past its sell by date.
  • Another way to check the needles, especially with a Fraser or Douglas Fir, is to break off a needle and bend it in half. If it snaps that’s a good sign, if it is bendy that means the tree has been there a long amount of time.

Aftercare

Remember our tips and you’ll find the perfect Christmas tree this year!  Keep your eye out for our blog on ‘How to Care for Your Real Christmas Tree’ to keep it looking fantastic all through the festive period, coming soon!

Zoe at PrimroseZoë works in the Marketing team at Primrose, and is passionate about all things social media.

After travelling across Europe and Asia, Zoë is intrigued by different cultures and learning more about the world around her. If she’s not jet setting, Zoë loves nothing more than curling up with a good book and a large glass of red wine!

She is an amateur gardener but keen to learn more and get stuck in!

See all of Zoë’s posts.

Composting, Gardening Year, How To, Paul Peacock - Mr Digwell

The exciting part of New Year is the expectation – how is the year going to turn out and, especially in the garden, will it be the same as last year?

Hope not! Certainly the weather was the overriding factor affecting the garden last year, and if you are in to veggies, like me, then it was a complete wash out – literally! I actually chased my potatoes in a six inch torrent of water that was travelling faster than I could run. And to think that we moved here thinking that because we were on a hill we would have no flooding troubles.

But it never is the same and, over the years, we have found the garden has a life of its own. Yes, we can plan and change stuff, but the garden has its own character that always shines through, and we do our best to foster that character.

The Christmas tree in January..

Last year we had a real Christmas tree and one of the first jobs of January was to recycle the remains. We normally have an artificial tree, but that year, the real one came out of a disaster – a car had come off the road and crashed into a copse of young firs, so we took advantage of the situation, and as no one was hurt, it seemed the right thing to do.

Christmas trees, like most pines, are full of resin, and do not rot so easily. Therefore we simply chopped up the branches and use them as mulch. The main stem was sawn for the fire and the ashes poured into the compost heap.

Snowdrops!

IMG_0697
Snowdrops in the cracks of the paving

Snowdrops are a favourite for January, such a delicate plant to look at, but this little beauty is as tough as old boots. I am naturalizing them about the garden, but they seem to do that all on their own too, setting seed everywhere, even in the cracks of the paving.

Snowdrops are dug up in August and then simply pushed into the ground in their new location- and quite forgotten until they pop up with a shout in late December – early January. They do well in the barest of soils, the only real care they need is to be left alone, and not walked on. Once they have flowered, let them grow leaves for several months, so they can manufacture more of the corms that we distribute around the garden in high summer.

Another job for January is the lawn. Work off all those extra dinners of the festive season by aerating the lawn, if not too wet, and also trim up the edges, a job which always improves the lawn’s appearance. When I had one to play with, January was the ideal time for working on the gutters of bowling greens, getting them just right – we tend to forget the lawn is at its weakest, and likely it’s most vulnerable at the edges.

Think Spring!

You may remember one of my earlier blogs was about putting dahlias to bed for the winter, in a frost free place, having dug up the tubers, divided and dusted with sulphur powder, and set them in a cool but frost free place. Now is time to give them a check for rot of any kind. Open them up and have a good inspection for any signs of rotting, bad odours, blackness, weeping or anything else untoward. Remove any offenders and repack for a couple of months to continue their sleep. We need to inspect them because they would infect the whole set if left, which would be a disaster.

If you haven’t already done so, dig over your plots, making sure you are careful not to damage roots of trees and shrubs, and if you can, give them a good mulch of well-rotted compost. Take special care of young fruit trees at this time of the year, as well as the compost mulch, make sure they are secure in the ground, so they will not be blown about by the wind and weather of January, and if they are in their second year, you can prune them. All you need to think about is making them into a goblet shape – so the drying summer wind can reduce the humidity around the plant, reducing fungal infections.

Cut away small branches that turn inward or cross and touch another, and that’s all you need to do to give the plant a successful start to the year.

2012-12-27 11.39.55
Sow onions in large numbers in a box of compost

You can sow onions seeds now. Don’t mess about fiddling with a few seeds in small modules. Get a wooden box or seed tray and fill it full of seeds. Water and keep warm. You will end up with a Mohican hair-cut of onions growing, which you can tease apart and then transplant in April. And while we’re on the subject of sowing, start hoeing your parsnip bed – these seeds are in the ground for a long time – hoe and give a dressing of general purpose organic fertilizer and then cover with plastic sheeting to warm the soil in preparation.

Mr Digwell gardening cartoon logo

Paul Peacock studied botany at Leeds University, has been the editor of Home Farmer magazine, and now hosts the City Cottage online magazine. An experienced gardener himself, his expertise lies in the world of the edible garden. If it clucks, quacks or buzzes, Paul is keenly interested.

He is perhaps best known as Mr Digwell, the cartoon gardener featured in The Daily Mirror since the 1950s. As Mr Digwell he has just published his book, A Year in The Garden. You can also see more about him on our Mr Digwell information page.