Buying a small real Christmas tree in a pot is actually quite a big commitment. But don’t worry, this guide will help make year-round Christmas tree maintenance as easy as possible. By selecting a potted Christmas tree, you can reuse that tree every year and grow it to the right height and shape that’s desirable for your living space.
Follow these steps for planting and repotting your tree each year.
Step 1: Buy Your Potted Christmas Tree
Buying real Christmas trees in pots is a treat. It’s arguably more festive than a cut Christmas tree. With a pot grown Christmas tree, it’s your responsibility to keep it alive and growing for many years to come. Not only is this more eco-friendly, but it’s also great for getting kids involved and saving money over the long term.
But even a real mini Christmas tree requires some thought. First, you need to choose a variety. If you want a classic that’s easy to grow and looks great in your home, choose the Nordmann Fir. Read our full guide to real types of Christmas trees for more information.
Dig a Hole
Once you’ve bought your small potted real Christmas tree, the first thing you want to do is dig a hole in your garden. In mid-December, the ground won’t yet be frozen solid so it’s the optimum time to dig that hole.
If you leave it until early January, the ground will be much harder to dig.
Make sure the hole is much wider than the Christmas tree pot, but slightly shallower. You should choose a spot that’s sheltered from the wind but gets plenty of light. This will help the tree grow healthily when it is planted.
Step 2: Keep Your Small Real Christmas Tree in the Pot!
Over Christmas, your pot grown Nordmann Fir or other Christmas tree type will be enjoying the warm, dry climate inside your home. To stop the tree from dropping needles and slowly dying, make sure it is watered regularly.
Keep the soil moist and top it up with water whenever it starts to dry out. Be careful not to over-water, however. If the soil is waterlogged with a puddle of water at the surface, you’ve gone too far.
Other tips for the Christmas period when your potted tree is inside:
- Acclimatise your tree slowly – bring it inside the porch or conservatory, then inside the house. Sudden warm temperatures can cause it to grow at the wrong time of year,
- Once the tree is inside and decorated, keep it away from radiators and other sources of heat,
- Use a tray or plate beneath the pot to catch any excess water that drains out.
Step 3: From Real Christmas Tree to Plant
Once Christmas is over, carefully remove all the decorations and store them for next year. Next, check on the hole you dug back in December and re-dig it if need be.
Meanwhile, slowly acclimatise your potted Christmas tree to the outdoor temperature. Some potted Christmas tree varieties are more sensitive than others. You may wish to take it outside during the day, then store it somewhere slightly warmer at night to avoid the frost until the weather calms.
When you are ready to turn your real potted Christmas tree into a garden plant, start by removing the pot. You will find a mass of roots inside all clumped together with soil. Gently untangle some of the roots at the edges to encourage them to root down and grow when they’re in the ground.
Place your freed Christmas tree in the shallow hole, so it is slightly elevated. This will help with drainage and prevent it becoming waterlogged.
Once that’s done, all you need to do is keep it watered throughout the year when the soil dries out.
How Much Growth to Expect
It depends on the size of your potted plant. For example, a 6ft potted real Christmas tree will grow quite fast, while the smallest potted plants (2ft or smaller) will be quite slow growing.
For medium and large potted plants, 4ft and above, you will notice some growth during the year in your garden. The tree will grow taller and produce some more branches. You might find off-shoot branches that are growing at a wide angle, ruining the classic Christmas tree silhouette. You can snip these off, if desired. You can also remove any dead branches you spot during the year. Other than that, there’s no pruning required for your tree.
Alternative Method: Repot the Pot
If you’re short on space, you can simply move your Christmas tree from one pot to another after the festive season has ended. Each year, choose a pot that’s larger than the one before, so the tree has room to grow. You can keep the potted tree outside during the year, then bring it inside for Christmas again.
At Gardeners Dream, we prefer to plant our trees outside. Access to natural, fresh soil each year helps to keep the plant healthy. It will also have better drainage planted in the ground compared to a pot. Although digging up a tree each year requires a little bit of effort, the overall health and look of the tree will be much improved.
Step 4: Dig Up Your Real Christmas Tree
When December hits and it’s time to bring in your Christmas tree, make sure you have a pot ready that’s larger than the year before. It’s better to have the tree in a too-large pot than a too-small pot over Christmas. A pot that’s too small may damage the roots.
Carefully dig up the tree, keeping the roots intact, and place it in its new pot. Then, just follow the rules as if it is a brand-new tree – acclimatise it to your indoor temperature, keep it watered, and don’t expose it to too much heat.
Over the years, your pot grown Christmas tree will grow quite large until eventually it is too large to bring inside the house. Make sure you’ve got the tree planted in a spot where it can grow after this stage.
But that’s not the end! You can continue to decorate your outdoor Christmas tree with lights each year to enjoy the festivities.
If you need help getting started, check out our real potted Christmas trees for sale at Christmas Trees Direct.