Keeping Your Christmas Tree Alive for Next Year

Published on December 20th 2019
a person planting a little christmas tree into the ground
Republished from 2018
Having decorated the inside of the house, I was contemplating what to do outside when meandering into my local supermarket somehow a pre-decorated pot grown "Christmas" tree fell into my basket.
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Having read the eco-friendly Christmas articles, here is a decoration I can grow on and use next year.
And I'm not alone fellow user Cummerou contacted us asking for advice on keeping their container-grown tree alive ready for next year.
If you're after advice on how to look after your cut tree, here's Alan's advice:

Over the holidays

If you've bought your potted tree for an indoor display, try to limit the stress it will experience by keeping it in a cool room.
Any sudden change to a centrally heated house will prompt the tree to drop needles in an attempt to reduce water loss.Here are a few other things to consider:
  • Check the drainage. Overwatering can cause the fibrous roots to rot away, limiting water uptake even more.
  • Ideally only keep your tree inside for two weeks. If it starts to look sorry for itself, move it back outside.
  • Check the soil every day and water if necessary. Use a saucer to catch any excess water.

Growing on

Once the festivities are over, it's time to think about where and how you're planning to keep the tree.
While you're deciding, place the tree in a sheltered position for a few weeks to adjust to new climate conditions.
If you're planning to grow them on in a container, they will need to be potted up into the next size up pot using a soil-based compost (John Innes No. 2). Increase the pot size every year, stopping before they're so big you can no longer move back indoors.
They can also be planted out into the garden or allotment ready to be dug back up next year. The advantage of this is that it requires a lot less care.
The disadvantage is that once a tree gets to roughly 1.8m (6'), the roots will have developed significantly, making lifting very difficult, as severing the main taproot can cause too much stress to the tree.


Watering will be necessary throughout the year, but you shouldn't have to do much pruning. Cut away any dead, diseased or dying branches and any stems which outgrow the shape you want.


Trees can be grown successfully in containers up to 45 litres (45cm across). After that, they will begin to suffer as restricting roots affects nutrient uptake and the foliage growth.
After years of faithful festive service, it's time to consider rehoming your tree.
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You need to consider where you plant it out carefully. Two doors down currently have a three-storey high tree right outside their bedroom window, having planted out a tree 20 years ago.
If you have nowhere suitable, you could contact your local council or Woodland Trust to ask about donating it to a community wood.
With a little luck and a bit of care, my impulse buy 45cm high Picea will be our tree for the next few years. After that, I'd love to imagine it will grow 'wild', providing stature and structure to future generations. I'm just not sure where yet!

Has anyone else any tips on keeping their tree alive? Please share them with me using the hashtag #christmastree.

And have a look at the articles below to learn more about Christmas trees!

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