Radiators & Christmas Trees – What Are The Rules?

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The days have long since passed when the tradition was to decorate your Christmas tree on Christmas Eve afternoon.

Nowadays, the trend is to put our trees up as early as possible – with many garden centres stocking “live” Christmas trees in the middle of November.

But putting your Christmas tree up early does present a few problems.

Although you know that a real Christmas tree is not meant to last forever, the earlier you put it up, the higher the chances of it being a bit bare and boring on Christmas day.

For that reason, we’ve looked at what you can do to keep that Christmas fir looking fresh and festive, so you can enjoy it throughout Christmas and maybe even into New Year!

small radiator next to a christmas tree

Shop Around For The Best Tree

Getting your new tree to last for the festive period starts with selecting a good quality one in the first place.

To ensure long-lasting festivities with your tree, the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) recommends you should only start buying them from December 1st.

Live Fir trees and Spruces last around 4 to 6 weeks if cared for correctly. But there are a few crafty tricks you can use to be sure you buy the best one.

man pulling a christmas tree in a pot

Crafty Christmas Tree Buying Tricks

Crafty Trick One – Lift the tree up a few inches off the ground and drop it onto its stump. If a lot of needles fall off, it isn’t freshly cut and you should choose again. 

Crafty Trick Two – Don’t buy a Norwegian spruce at the beginning of December! Spruce trees drop quicker than other Christmas trees. So if you prefer a spruce, buy it around a week to ten days before the big day.

Crafty Trick Three – If you want a tree to enjoy throughout all of December and beyond, choose a Nordman fir – as their needles don’t drop. Even months after drying out and going brown, they’ll still be hanging on.

Crafty Trick Four – If you can, try and buy your tree from a local grower. Although some of the larger retailers supply a decent standard of tree, there are lots of other available growers. They are also more likely to operate sustainably and offer high quality trees for just a little extra cash. Check the BCTGA’s online directory for details of growers near you.

Crafty Trick Five – Avoid trees that have been tied up in a net for a long period of time. These trees tend to dehydrate quicker since the net puts strain on the branches.

variety of christmas trees in pots

What Is The Best Room Temperature For A Real Tree?

The ideal room temperature for a full looking fir is around 16 to 18 degrees. But, there are plenty of other factors to keep in mind to keep your tree healthy for longer. 

Get Thirsty

You’re probably used to taking care of your house plants by giving them plenty to drink. So it’s not surprising that real Christmas trees require the same amount of attention to keep them looking fresh.

But, how much water do real trees need to stay hydrated?

On average, you need to water your real tree every day with a minimum of 500ml of water. It is a good idea to keep topping up your tree with extra water. They can actually take in as much as 1 to 2 litres a day!

Tree branches and needles can dry out quickly too. So we recommend using a spray bottle to give the tree a light mist all over each day.

The amount of water required also depends on the size and type of tree, where it lives in your home, and your heating system.

Here are a couple of tips to keep your tree looking full and healthy. 

How To Water Your Tree

If you buy a cut Christmas tree remember to saw around 2.5cm off the bottom of the trunk. This will help the tree absorb more water, just like snipping the ends off your fresh flowers.

If you place your tree in a stand make sure to choose an appropriate stand that allows you to easily add fresh water each day. 

If your tree is around 6 foot tall it will need at least 4 to 5 litres of water a day to keep it hydrated. 

If you prefer little trees in pots that still have their roots, they will soak up even more water. You can even re-plant them in the garden after Christmas to give them a new life!

If you have underfloor heating, keep in mind that your tree will require even more water to prevent the tree losing its needles too soon.

If you keep your tree outside under a porch or balcony, the fresh air can cause it to dry out further. So, make sure to keep an eye on it and top it up regularly.

close up of a Christmas tree stand

“We recommend you water a Christmas tree once a day with cold water. For a cut tree, although it looks amazing when positioned in front of an open fireplace, never do this as it will dry out.”

Deemer Cass – Fantastic Gardeners

What Not To Do!

Now that we have covered some of the basics of how to take care of your Christmas tree, let’s look at what not to do.

Avoid letting your tree dry up before it is even ready to be put up! Keep it in a bucket of water and store it in a cool dry area.

Avoid putting your tree near a radiator, fireplace or other heat source to avoid it drooping and drying out.

Avoid leaving the fairy lights turned on for very long periods of time and ensure they are turned off overnight.

Avoid putting a cut Christmas tree in sand or soil. Since they no longer have roots, the soil will absorb the water and prevent the tree from drinking it. 

Avoid allowing the water in the stand to drop below the base of the tree. Ideally, keep it 1 inch above the bottom of the trunk.

bronze column radiator next to a christmas tree

“Do not keep a potted Christmas tree indoors for more than 12 days at a time as it cannot survive in the warm temperatures indoors. Move your tree outside every 10-12 days for around 24-30 hours to allow the tree to recharge. Once the holidays are over it’s best to move it outdoors indefinitely so that it can continue to thrive.”

Deemer Cass – Fantastic Gardeners

Can You Revive A Dying Tree?

If needles are dropping and branches are wilting, the good news is you do have a chance to revive your Christmas tree. The simple solution is more water!

Some people suggest more inventive remedies like a drop of lemonde or aspirin to bring a tree back to life. However, The National Christmas Tree Association advises that fresh water is all that is needed.

For cut trees, the best thing to do is chop another inch off the bottom to allow more water to be absorbed. Just avoid being tempted to cut off the sides of the trunk. This will actually reduce the amount of water the tree can drink up.

Secure the tree again and fill up the stand with as much water as it can hold. Then be sure to monitor the water level, top it up regularly and spray the branches often.

Since the tree has already dried out, it is a good idea to avoid hanging lights around. Lights create additional heat and cause potential dehydration. If you want to light up the tree for Christmas day, look for LED options since they will emit less heat.

Christmas tree needles on the floor next to the tree

Happy Tree Shopping!

We hope our festive tips and tricks have given you a couple of new ideas to try this season to keep your tree looking lovely for the big day! We wish you and your trees a happy healthy Christmas!

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