Pot-grown Christmas trees are often referred to as 'temporary house plants'. It makes sense when you think about it. Your pot-grown tree lives happily outside throughout the year and is moved indoors to act as a house plant for a couple of weeks over the festive season.
But once the festivities are over, there is no need to dispose of a pot-grown Christmas tree.
Our guide on what to do with potted Christmas tree after Christmas will help keep your pot-grown tree healthy for next year.
What is a pot-grown Christmas tree?
Simply put, pot-grown Christmas trees are supplied in the pots in which they've been grown. They have been planted as seedlings and carefully tended by experts until they reach the desired height.
These are living trees so, unlike freshly cut trees, they will continue to grow and flourish once the festivities are over.
Pot-grown trees differ from other potted trees because their root balls are intact. Some potted trees have been grown in the ground or in other containers and dug up to be re-planted in appropriately sized pots. Potted trees will often have their roots pruned to fit the pot, which can result in a stressed-out tree that struggles to absorb water well.
By keeping the root system intact, pot-grown trees will grow stronger and have a healthier appearance.
Why choose a pot-grown Christmas tree
There are lots of good reasons to opt for a pot-grown tree this Christmas. Of course, they're attractive, have a pleasantly festive scent and add a beautiful festive touch to the room. But they have many more benefits on top of all that.
Pot-grown trees are, without a doubt, the most eco-friendly way to have a Christmas tree in your home.
Freshly cut trees are great but, by their very nature, can only be used for one Christmas before you need to dispose of them. On the other hand, a potted Christmas tree can be kept in the garden for use again the following year. Depending on the size and rate of growth, a pot-grown tree will thrive in its pot for at least a few years before becoming too big and needing to be planted out in the ground.
While artificial trees can also be used year after year, they are made of plastic and metal and can't easily be recycled when you're finished with them. Because of this, they usually end up in landfill, which isn't great for anyone.
A potted tree can be used for more than one holiday season, making it the most environmentally friendly way to bring a Christmas tree into your home.
Pot-grown trees are great for brightening up the garden at Christmas time. Simply string some outdoor lights around it, and voila! An instant Christmas tree. Much easier than hanging off ladders while hanging lights over the house.
Even if you decide to bring your tree indoors for the festivities, it can provide valuable height and interest to the garden and patio area throughout the year. Pot-grown trees tolerate being inside for up to 2 weeks, so that's 50 weeks of the year you can have a striking evergreen growing in the garden.
For some people choosing a freshly cut Christmas tree is a festive tradition. For others, it's yet another chore that has to be done during an already busy month.
Storing your Christmas tree in the garden throughout the year means it's there and ready to bring inside to decorate whenever you get the chance. Just think, no more disagreements about whether to opt for a Nordmann Fir or a Blue Spruce, no hoovering up needles from the car, and no fluffing of branches when you bring the tree inside.
All you need to do is give the tree a shake and bring it inside, ready to have decorations added at your leisure.
A living tree can be brought inside to be used as a Christmas tree whenever the mood takes you.
How to care for a pot-grown Christmas tree indoors
Evergreen trees are used to being outdoors and cope well with British winter weather. However, they can last up to 2 weeks inside the home and are relatively easy to care for.
A pot-grown tree will quickly start to drop needles if it isn't positioned well. Keep it away from heat sources such as fires and radiators. While it's lovely to have a Christmas tree in the window, if your home is south-facing and gets a lot of winter sun, this probably isn't the best spot for your Christmas tree. A cool corner of the room is perfect.
Watering is key to keeping a healthy tree with lush green needles. Water too much and root rot becomes a risk. Water too little and needle drop becomes a problem.
Check moisture levels every day. You might be surprised at how much water a pot-grown Christmas tree needs. If the top layer of soil feels dry, give the tree a drink. If it's still moist, leave it be and check again tomorrow. To prevent water logging, ensure the pot has adequate drainage holes. Place a tray or decorative pot underneath to catch any excess water.
What to do with your tree after Christmas
The festivities are over, and the decorations have been taken down. The easy answer is to move it back outside, where it will be happiest. But what next? There are different options depending on your preferences, like re-potting it or planting it till next year.
Re-pot to bring inside again next year
Being reusable is one of the main benefits of pot-grown Christmas trees, and if you want to bring it inside again next year you may have to re-pot it. This task can take place at any time of year, but early spring is ideal.
You'll know if your tree needs to be re-potted if any roots are sticking out from the drainage holes. Another sign to look out for is the tree needs watering more often than usual. Sometimes you can tell that the tree simply looks too large for its current container.
Like other plants, Christmas trees need to be moved into larger pots as they grow.
How to rep-pot a potted Christmas tree
Re-potting a tree isn't as tricky as you might think. The new pot doesn't have to be huge - bear in mind you're going to want to be able to move it at some point, so don't make it too heavy. Choose a container that is around 10cm bigger than the current pot. Ensure the new container has plenty of drainage holes and place a layer of compost in the bottom.
Remove the tree from its container and gently loosen the roots a little. Stand the tree in the middle of the pot and fill the gaps around it with fresh soil. Give the tree plenty of water, and that's it - job done!
Plant it out in the garden
The other option is to plant the tree out in the garden. While suitable for any pot-grown tree, it's best for trees that have grown too tall to flourish in pots any longer. Digging up and potting a tree can be really tricky, so if you plan to bring your tree into the home again next Christmas, we recommend keeping it in the container. However, when the tree outgrows pots, the garden is the best place for it.
Choose a bright spot sheltered from strong winds and out of direct sunlight. Dig a hole that is slightly deeper and wider than the tree's root ball. Remove the tree from its container, carefully tease the roots out a little, and position it in the centre of the hole. When filling the hole with compost, ensure the soil reaches the same level it did in the pot.
Don't be tempted to transfer your tree too early in the year. The tree won't settle well in frosty or water-logged soil so wait for a dry spell before replanting.
Planting a pot-grown tree in the garden is a lovely way to prolong its life.
How to look after your pot-grown tree throughout the year
You can't expect to leave a tree outside, neglect it for 11.5 months and expect it to be bright and bushy when you want to bring it inside for Christmas. Like all plants, pot-grown Christmas trees are alive and need a little TLC to help them look their best.
Pot-grown tree care tips:
Whether your tree stays in its pot or has been planted in the garden, caring for it will be similar.
Don't take your tree directly into the cold from your cosy living room. Move it into a cool place first to let it re-acclimatise to being outdoors. A garage or shed is ideal, but a sheltered spot on a porch should be fine.
After a few days, you can safely move the tree into the desired position. Choose a spot out of the full sun but with plenty of light. A sheltered area out of the wind is best, especially if your tree is planted out and hasn't quite established itself in the ground yet.
Planting your tree in a light location where it will be sheltered from the harshest weather will help promote growth.
As with all plants, trees need watering. In the UK, rain usually has this aspect of plant care covered. However, in summer and during dry spells a living Christmas tree does need regular watering. This is especially true of potted Christmas trees. Trees planted in the garden can absorb more moisture from the ground. Pots of soil are more limited and need watering more often to provide nutrients for the tree to grow.
Be careful not to overwater as this can lead to root rot.
Providing a good quality fertiliser for your tree is a great way to help maintain health and promote growth.
Feed the tree during the growing season from early spring to late summer. Specialist tree fertilisers are available, but an all-purpose one will do just fine.
Generally, Christmas trees don't need much pruning when grown outside. The level of pruning your tree requires will largely depend on the species.
To keep that neatly symmetrical Christmas tree shape, you will have to get out the secateurs. The more regularly you prune, the smaller the job will be, and you'll get away with just pruning any sprigs that grow out of place.
If your tree has been planted out, you might want to limit its eventual size by pruning. Christmas trees can grow to an impressive height. Even the Fraser Fir, considered a small growing Christmas tree, can reach 7m in height over 20 years.
As with all trees and shrubs, dead or damaged branches should always be cut away.
A living Christmas tree needs pruned to manage its height and maintain its traditional shape.
Pot-grown Christmas trees are eco-friendly, convenient and, perhaps most importantly, attractive. With a little care and attention, you can keep the same real tree full of the spirit of Christmas for years.