Can you plant a cut Christmas tree?

Written by jenny green Google
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Can you plant a cut Christmas tree?
Many prefer the natural look and pine scent of a real Christmas tree. (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Central to Christmas in many homes is a beautifully decorated tree surrounded by presents, but once Christmas is over families are faced with the problem of what to do with the tree. Cut Christmas trees should be disposed of after Christmas, because a tree cut from its roots is already dying, and planting it in a pot or out in the garden won't help it survive. However, buying a recently-cut tree and providing suitable care will help prolong its useful life.

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Recently-cut, well-watered Christmas trees last longest. When buying a tree, look at the needles and give the tree a quick shake. Old trees have dull needles that drop easily. They also feel light -- fresh trees feel heavy because they're full of water. Cost isn't a reliable predictor of quality. Well-cared for trees shouldn't drop their needles, so it probably isn't worth paying extra for a non-drop tree, and Christmas tree vendors usually charge as much as they think people are willing to pay, rather than basing their prices on quality. Locally-sourced trees are more environmentally friendly and may be fresher than those from another area or country.


Caring for a cut Christmas tree involves recreating its natural growing conditions as far as possible. When you bring your tree home put it outside in a sheltered, shady spot and stand it in water for one or two days. Cut 1 cm (0.5 inch) off its base when you bring it indoors and keep it away from direct heat in a cool room. Use a Christmas tree stand to help you keep it well watered, or alternatively, put it in a waterproof pot and prop it up with pebbles. Check the water level at least once a day and top up as needed.


Cut Christmas trees rot down eventually, or can be made into wood chippings for garden use. Many councils will collect used Christmas trees if left next to brown garden waste recycling bins, or they have a special collection service. Some areas have local collection points where you can take your tree to be shredded, and some tree farms will collect the trees bought from them. You can also leave your tree in your garden to decompose and use it as mulch.


Trees in containers and artificial Christmas trees are the main alternatives to cut trees. If using a pot-grown tree, delay bringing it indoors as long as possible and try not to keep it inside for longer than 12 days. Once Christmas is over, it can live in the garden until next year. Christmas tree species often grow into large trees if planted out, so keeping it in a container is probably the best option, although trees don't usually live more than four or five years in containers. Artificial trees may seem a more environmentally-friendly option, but they use lots of energy to produce and manufacturing their materials pollutes the environment.

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