Living Christmas trees

Over 600,000 healthy trees will be cut down in Ireland this year to celebrate Christmas. As a nation, we are becoming more aware of the importance of trees and their role in a healthy ecosystem. This huge waste of land, trees and resources just to decorate a tree for a couple of weeks, seems very strange to me, as there is a natural alternative, if like most people, you want to have a Christmas tree to celebrate Christmas.

As a child, growing up on a garden centre, we have always had a living Christmas tree and this seemed normal to me. The one year I had a cut tree, we were given it from a neighbor. It seemed very strange to be gathered around a dead tree, which was dropping needles, looking sad, even though covered in decorations. This was when I made a mental note never to do that again. In fact many people would argue that having a plastic Christmas tree is even a better option environmentally than a cut tree, and I would have to agree!

Even if you do not have anywhere to plant it out after the big day, we have successfully grown living Christmas trees in pots for four to five seasons, as long as they do not dry out in summer and have some liquid feed each year. I also recommend sinking the pot half way into the ground if you have the space, as the roots will quickly anchor into the ground and find water and food. Simply dig under the pot in early December each season, cut the roots and clean the pot. You may have to increase the size of pot every few seasons but this cost is small compared to the savings of getting a few seasons from a single tree, which has grown and shared each Christmas with you and your family!

When the tree has outgrown your room space, it can get a few more years as an outside Christmas tree, if placed in the right spot. If you do not have the space in your own garden, or do not have a garden, ask a friend or neighbor who does and enjoy their smile as you give them a free tree! Most varieties of Christmas trees will grow on to become beautiful additions to any garden. They will provide year round shelter for other plants and wildlife, absorb carbon and release oxygen. If they become too big for your garden or you need more room for future generations of Christmas trees, they make fantastic fire wood to keep you warm over the winter!

Try to minimise the amount of time you keep your tree indoors, as the heat indoors can stress it. Place a saucer under the pot or line the inside of the pot with a plastic liner and water it every few days or as you see the needles start to droop. When moving it outdoors after Christmas, if possible keep it in a garage or shed for a few days to get used to the change in temperature.

After selling living Christmas trees for over 30 years here at Deelish, we have found smaller trees usually have a better chance of transplanting after the holidays. You also get more years to reuse it after your first Christmas. Thankfully there has been a change over the last few years and many homes and commercial growers are now making the switch to living trees. However, be aware of some sellers supplying ‘living Christmas trees’, as many of these have simply been dug up from a tree farm with no understanding that the roots need to be undercut each year, and will have little or no chance of transplanting after Christmas. With 30 years experience in trading with living Christmas trees, we are proud to say that we know what to look out for when selecting a supplier and thus can offer our customers the best trees with the best chance of survival. 

Here at Deelish Garden Centre, we have never sold cut trees and never plan to, as we feel dead trees are bad for the business we are in, as well as the environment. This year we are sourcing our trees from a specialist Christmas tree grower and have potted trees, which are trees that have had their roots undercut each year by the grower then dug from the ground and potted up. The trees are priced from €16.90 for a 3ft tree up to €29.90 for a 5ft tree. We also have potted trees, which have been grown in pots for at least three years, resulting in less stress, as the roots do not have to be cut each year, from €29.90 for a 4ft tree to €49.90 for a 5ft tree.

Listed below are the four varieties we have this year, which are all great choices for Christmas trees and for growing on in your garden;

Nordmann Fir: This Christmas tree accounts for 75 per cent of trees sold in Ireland. It has superb needle-holding ability and is nick-named the ‘needle-fast’.

It has a glossy, rich green foliage and large soft family-friendly needles; great for young children and pets.

Norway Spruce: This is the oldest traditional Christmas tree and is the ideal tree for outdoors or for a more traditional indoor variety. The tree’s needles are light green in color and it has a good scent.

Fraser Fir: Is a citrus-scented tree of compact growth, slimmer than a Nordmann and it also has good needle-retaining qualities. The Fraser Fir has soft dense needles, green with a silver underside. The tree itself has a conical shape with great proportions, particularly good in small to medium sizes.

Blue Spruce: The blue spruce, also known as the Colorado blue spruce, is loved for its waxy gray-blue needles that tend to curve upwards. Native to the Rocky Mountains of the United States, this spruce tree features dense foliage that grows in a conical shape anywhere up to 75 feet tall. The blue spruce is said to have “the perfect Christmas tree shape”.

Feel free to come and have a look at the full selection of Christmas trees at the garden centre, and we will be happy to help you select the perfect tree for your situation, or come to our ‘Grand re-opening’ of our new shop on Saturday, December 7. Happy Christmas to all our customers and West Cork People readers from all of us here at Deelish Garden Centre.

WCP Staff

WCP Staff Writer

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