There are many varieties of real Christmas tree and there are many varieties that are purpose-grown and extremely suitable for displaying outdoors. These are known as potted Christmas trees or pot-grown real Christmas trees. We give you a complete guide on what to look for when selecting your perfect outdoor potted Christmas tree!
Why You Need Pot-Grown and NOT Cut Christmas Trees
To start with, if you’re planning on having an outdoor Christmas tree display that you don’t wish to keep for more than one Christmas then you might be able to get away with using a cut real Christmas tree and stand. The problem is that cut Christmas trees don’t have their root network intact and all you really have left is the base of the trunk. Because they lack a root network they are already on borrowed time and if a winter is particularly unfriendly weather-wise, they may not see the entire Christmas season out and die early.
Pot grown Christmas trees are complete Christmas trees with their root network intact and hidden in the pot. These varieties are great for placing outdoors for a Christmas display and can be kept for multiple successive Christmases providing they are cared for correctly. Without the correct care, even a pot grown tree may perish and it is important to make sure you are doing your best to keep it healthy.
How to Care for an Outdoor Pot Grown Christmas Tree?
There are three things your Christmas tree needs in order to survive, grow and flourish. Make sure that you’re placing the tree in an area that gets at least a few hours of sunlight a day. If the weather is dry, then ensure you’re giving it a bit of water once in a while (although take care not to overwater a pot grown tree). The last aspect is the space to grow.
Growing Space and Pot Grown Christmas Trees
For the first 12 months, your potted Christmas tree will be fine in the pot it is supplied in. However, beyond the initial first 12 months, it will need to be re-potted. This is because the root network will be crammed into the original pot and will need a larger pot for them to grow further.
A nifty trick to decide when it is best to repot your Christmas tree is to measure its growth. For every foot or so of growth, it is likely to need a larger pot. Re-potting a Christmas tree can be a bit awkward and the trees themselves aren’t necessarily light so we always recommend this is a two-person job.
Select Your Potted Christmas Tree Size Carefully
The next thing you will want to do is plan. With a potted Christmas tree you have the option to keep them for a number of years. Because Evergreen tree varieties are robust and grow in harsh conditions it is completely reasonable to expect them to grow especially when they are kept outside with plenty of access to sunlight and water.
If you’re buying a tree that you wish to keep for several years, prepare for how big it will grow in that time. Most real Christmas trees will grow at a rate of a foot a year although some rarer varieties grow at half this rate.
If you’re purchasing a 5ft tree this year, remember that in just two years it will be 7ft which is a foot over standard fence height in the UK, and in four years the tree will be a whopping 9ft tall tree. This is the equivalent to a single-story house.
Many people grow very attached to their Christmas trees, especially as they have watched them grow and taken care of them, make sure that you have enough space to accommodate a tree of this size if you’re planning to keep your Christmas tree long-term.
Planting a Potted Tree into the Ground
There will come a point when a tree is too large to re-pot. Typically a 6ft tree is difficult to re-pot and anything larger is a nightmare. Pots also need to be incredibly generous space wise for trees of this size and many people feel that it is not practical or economical (large robust pots are expensive) to continue re-potting a tree.
This leaves potted tree owners with two options.
Cut the Potted Christmas Tree
A popular method of disposal is to cut the tree at the 6ft to 7ft mark to be used as an outdoor or indoor Christmas tree. In the same way as a regular cut tree would be used if bought from a real Christmas tree retailer. After it has died it is composted or thrown away with the green waste. This is a neat end to the Christmas tree’s life and it also means less logistical planning.
Planting the Potted Tree
The other option is to plant the potted tree. This is great if you have plenty of space and are happy to have a permanent fixture in your garden. Evergreen trees however aren’t always suited to gardens as they take up a lot of space and they can grow to enormously tall heights. In your lifetime it is very likely that an Evergreen tree will surpass the height of a two-story house.
Potted trees don’t always do well when planted and there should be care taken to ensure it is done correctly. Strangely, because pots are enclosed, the soil temperature that the roots have adjusted to as well as the collected water supply, the roots may not take well to normal ground soil. On very rare occasions an Evergreen will die when re-planted into the ground and this is a risk you should be aware of.
If you’re happy with the growth element and have the space, potted Christmas trees that have been planted into the soil can live for decades (if not much longer) with the correct care and are a beautiful tree variety in general regardless of the festive season. There will always come a point where it will stop being a Christmas tree because it is too large to decorate and become part of your garden. But then, who said a real Christmas tree needed to just be for Christmas?
The last thing you should know about your outdoor potted Christmas tree is that it will (like its indoor counterparts) drop pine needles naturally. Even no-drop or low-drop varieties will drop needles here and there. The great thing about having your potted tree outdoors is that these pine needles are biodegradable and can easily be scooped out of the pot and put into the compost bin.