The perennial question in our house is not merely ‘where will we put the tree this year?’ but more like ‘where will our fully lit tree complete with dangly tinsel balls of all sizes and colours be safe from the night-time marauding antics of a fully grown, but slightly delinquent moggie?’
While I am vexing over this, here are some handy hints on getting the best out your real tree.
Most of the cut plants that are being sold locally will have made quite a journey already. Here’s a quick way that you can test the freshness of your choice. Hold the tree about 10 cms above the ground, and drop it onto its cut end. A less energetic way would be to run a branch through your hand.
Either way, if the tree is in good condition, then you should not expect to see many needles dropping off.
Before even thinking of decorating it, saw off about one cm off the bottom of the stem. As quickly as you can, plunge this cut end of the stem into a bucket of water and allow the tree to stand like that in a cool place for about 24 hours. This will allow the plant to re-hydrate, and will go some way to slowing down the inevitable needle drop.
Sad to say, there is no such thing as a non-needle-drop tree – except an artificial one!
If you have a custom-made tree stand with an integrated water reservoir, check it for leaks. Having filled it up with water on the Christmas tree’s first day, don’t forget to check this level regularly. It’s important that the cut end of the stem constantly remains below the water level otherwise the tree will stop drinking, and then rapidly dry out.
Hard to believe, but a cut tree can imbibe from 0.5 litres to nearly 4 litres a day. Obviously the hotter the room, the more it will drink.
If you have bought what you think is a Christmas tree in a pot, with roots, then do check. Some cheeky traders simply stick the cut end of a tree into a pot filled with soil – it could take a week or two before you discover the awful truth!