GARDEN TIPS - 22/11/18

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When you bring your tree home, take it out of its netting as soon as possible, to prevent mould and fungus growing in the damp branches.

Saw a couple inches off the bottom of the trunk and get it into a bucket of water, if you’re not going to put it up immediately.

When trees are cut, resin oozes out of the cut trunk and seals the pores. this will affect its ability to absorb moisture (it’s the same principle as with cut flowers). By sawing off that piece from the base of the trunk, the tree will be able to absorb water again. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Don't cut the trunk at an angle, or into a v-shape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree in a stand. It also reduces the amount of water available to the tree.

Water is, of course, the single most important means of looking after your tree to keep the needles healthy. When a Christmas tree is first cut, more than half its weight is actually water. Given the opportunity, an average sized, fresh-cut tree can then consume up to four litres of water in the first 24 hours after being cut, and then up to a 1-2 litres every day after that, depending on its size and your heating system, so you see how critical it is that the tree has a ready supply. Think how many individual needles there on a tree….every one needs to get water every day to retain colour and flexibility. So water really is the key means of maintaining a tree’s freshness and minimising needle loss problems.

If you have under-floor heating, then a “log-based” tree (where the trunk is fitted into a large disc of timber to support it) really needs to be placed in a bowl or tray. Without this, the tree simply won’t get enough to drink and will dry out pretty quickly.

Tree stands with a built-in reservoir are the best way to support the tree and keep it watered. The added weight of the water will also help prevent any over-enthusiastic pets that decide to make an ascent of the new ‘climbing frame’ from toppling your beautifully decorated masterpiece! As a general rule, stands should provide one litre of water per inch of stem diameter.

Avoid putting your tree in sand or soil - this reduces the amount of water it can absorb. The base needs to be clean.

Whichever method of watering you use, make sure that the water level doesn’t get below about an inch from the bottom of the trunk. This will significantly reduce the tree’s ability to absorb the volume of water it requires. With some stands on the market, there can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged in water, so watch out for that. Also, bear in mind that the outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed (nerd fact alert: the only ‘live’ part of any tree’s trunk is the outer layer. The timber inside may hold moisture, but is not actually ‘live’ in the true ,meaning of the word. That’s why it takes up moisture best through its outer layers. That’s why, contrary to what some believe, there is no advantage to drilling a hole into the centre of the base of the trunk. Oh, and the temperature of the water used to fill the stand is not important and doesn’t affect water uptake in any way.

If at all possible, position the tree away from heat sources. In fact, the lower the temperature, the better the tree will do.

One other thing: some people add aspirin or sugar to the water; there’s really no benefit to any of this - again, water is the main thing.

If your tree is pot-grown, make sure you water the root ball. And if it’s kept outside on a porch, balcony, or in a garden it might need even more water to avoid it drying out.

If you have any questions or think we may be able to help at all then, as ever, please do get in touch.

Enjoy your tree!

The Lancasters Team.

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