Celebrate baby's first Christmas with a real baby potted Christmas tree that you can use every year. An ideal Christmas gift for any family with a new addition(s).
You will receive 12 Abies Nordmann fir trees that are very popular as UK Christmas trees because of their often symmetrical shape and family friendly soft and slightly scented retentive needles with the underside a silvery colour giving a pleasing contrast. The RHS Award Of Garden Merit tells you it is a good tree compared to other conifers. They are supplied 1 year old and will be 10-30 cm tall from the top of the rootball to the top of the tallest branch.
Click the links to see Norway Spruce, Noble and Fraser Fir options. Norway Spruce is a faster growing tree but not so good with needle retention and the needles are sharper. Fraser fir trees are more upright in shape if space is at a premium and Noble fir trees have a blue tint to the needles which do not drop as much as Norway Spruce.
Why Send 12 Nordmann Fir Trees?
To give you the best possible chance of having at least one excellent mature Abies Nordmann fir Christmas tree. This means you can have spares or gift the rest to other members of the family. Expect some variation across the crop as they age, this is perfectly normal.
The Simplest Way Of Planting Young Nordmann Fir Trees Into Containers
Fill a pot with garden soil which sits on stones, gravel etc (for weight not drainage), take one of the 12 Nordmann Fir Christmas tree saplings, make a hole deep enough to fit the whole root ball, place sapling inside, fill any voids with soil, press down and water. You will have to remove grass and weeds and remember to water well in the Summer. One hot summer day will completely dry out a 12L pot unless you have taken preventive measures. Give a general purpose tree feed around every couple of years or follow manufacturers instructions.
The Best Way Of Planting Young Nordmann Fir Trees Into Containers
For best results and for the purists, you will have a few extra considerations.
Conifers generally do better with acidic soil but will be fine in neutral. You can plant in clay, loam or sandy soil but If you have a particularly heavy clay soil consider mixing 50:50 with well rotted manure or compost and place this on top of stones for weight purposes. Clay is good for water retention and more weight for the pot to reduce the chances of being blown over when older. The downside is when it dries out and shrinks, it leaves a gap between the soil and pot meaning most of your watering efforts drain straight out. Using 100% compost is fine but also has drawbacks. It is very free draining so you need to water more often and if you just planted an older tree into it, wind may push it over until the roots have spread. It is also much lighter than clay therefore easier to blow over unless you support it or add extra weight in the bottom. To get the best of both worlds, mix 50:50 with clay and compost.
Having the top 5-10cm as pure compost is the same as having a mulch layer which is generally considered to be a good idea. We always put a ring of compost on top where the soil meets the pot and firm down to create a sort of slope pointing towards the middle of the pot. This reduces water draining straight out down the inside of the pot. Using a weed suppressant fabric around the tree is another way of keeping the weed and grass competition down and reduce watering requirements.
Choosing a pot can be a little daunting. A clay or terracotta pot dries out less quickly in the summer but they are heavy and can crack in the frost. Plastic and fibreglass are cheap and light but not usually that attractive unless you go for the high end ones. Wood planters can be very attractive and protects the plant from wild temperature variations. Rot resistant wood is best such as Cedar or Locust. You can use Pine treated with a preservative but do not use creosote. A wooden planter with a plastic liner will increase the life time of the planter. Don't use metal, they conduct heat away from the soil and this could damage the roots. In summary, a quality plastic pot is the best all rounder.
The size of pot you choose will become more important as it ages as you do not want it to become pot bound. This is where the roots spiral around the container looking for more nutrients. You can root prune which is where you take the tree out of the pot and prune back the excess roots. This will enable you to keep the tree size down. A 12L pot will weigh around 10 kg or more and it is relatively easy to move around.
Move your Christmas tree to a "pot spot" that receives plenty of sun and preferably out of the wind. This is more important in the first growing season and becomes less so as the tree becomes established. One reason for your Nordmann fir Christmas tree becoming leggy or disproportionately taller than wide is lack of light.
Watering Your Nordmann Fir Christmas Tree
The guideline for watering containerised Nordmann Fir trees are a lot and not often. It is better to thoroughly soak the entire root ball once a week instead of a light watering every day for seven days. This time frame goes out the window in mid-summer though. Check the moisture level of the soil around 5cm down and if dry, water thoroughly and if it means you have to do that every day then you do so. To reduce water needs, you could place your fir tree in a less sunny spot. It is the foliage that needs the sun, not the pot so you could put your pot inside another larger one to protect it. If you are going away for a while, you could put water in the larger pot so that the bottom 10-20%of your smaller pot is in water. Not a great idea on a long term basis as standing water comes with its own issues but at least the roots will have some water.
Water the roots, not the foliage. Watering early or later afternoon is best to reduce plant stress. Ignore this if the soil is bone dry, get it watered asap. Mulching helps keep watering requirements down (keep mulch away from your Christmas tree stem as it will rot it) and combine that with a weed suppressant fabric. Water saving gels are another option to explore if you are a bit forgetful.
Fertilizing your Nordmann Fir Christmas Tree
Conifers are used to growing in poor conditions but growing in containers maybe a big ask in the long term without fertilizing them. If you want to give it a helping nudge, in the first year, choose a fertilizer that has phosphorous in it as this encourages root development. Nitrogen will feed the foliage making it bushier and greener but don't be tempted to over feed. You can use slow release fertilizers that are effective for around 18 months.
Pot Sizes For Your Nordmann Fir Christmas Tree
We chose to initially plant in a 12 litre pot with stones for weight at the bottom. The oversized pot for age of tree meant there was much less chance of the tree being blown over while in the garden and during Summer, less chance of it drying out. During very hot Summers, a 12 L pot can dry out in a day unless you take preventative measures such as dappled shade, light coloured pot or drip irrigation.
The general rule of thumb for container growing is use the largest pot you can and the general rule of thumb for selecting a pot you want to move every year is use the lightest and smaller pot you can. We suggest going with the first rule of thumb as much as possible. Start with around 12 litre pots and aim to be in a 50 litre pot by the time it is around 150cm tall. Be guided by the tree and how it looks. If it looses vigour and colour then pot on to a bigger pot or feed it with a general purpose tree fertiliser.
Pruning Your Containerised Nordmann Fir
There is little need to prune these trees and certainly do not prune for the first couple of seasons. If you find it is becoming too "lanky" then removing some of the main stem (at the top obviously) will help improve things unless it is not getting enough light (being lanky is a sign of low light levels). You definitely need to remove dead, diseased or crossing over branches (the bark being rubbed off allows disease in) and maybe a light prune to form the shape you desire if it starts growing into an undesirable shape.
After a couple of seasons growth, consider removing a few of the lower branches to promote air flow, give a pleasing view of the trunk and a bit more space to put presents in.
If you prune 2 year wood, it will not grow back so remember that when going on a pruning spree. If needles drop, they also do not grow back so if you have a forgetful summer and neglect watering, you will likely have a less bushy tree at Christmas.
Possibly Bizzare Pruning Idea For Your Nordmann Fir Christmas Tree
If you are short of space then having a Christmas tree that sits close to a wall could be beneficial to you. The following idea as far as we know is untested but we ran it past one of the UK's leading nurserymen and he said it should be ok. As you have 12 saplings, you could try it with just one and find out? Please send us some pictures if it works well.
So you are looking to achieve a flat side to the tree so it sits closer to the house wall by pruning the tree. If you decide to do it when the tree is mature, remember not to take more than a third of the total foliage off per season and to do it between November and March. The biggest problem will likely be the tree will not be balanced because you have removed a lot of foliage from one side. You could counteract this by planting the tree slightly off centre and putting some more weight in the bottom of pot e.g. stones and gravel. The idea of planting off centre is to keep the centre of gravity in the middle of the pot to reduce tipping over issues. We envisage there being more problems with smaller pots e.g. guessing centre of gravity is difficult. To reduce issues we would advise using the largest pot possible, 50 litres is a good size but also too heavy for some. You can plant your tree sapling from day one in a 50 litre pot if you prefer, saves repotting later on. When you put it back in the garden remember to orientate the fir tree so the foliage receives the sun, not the side you pruned.
Once The Christmas Tree Is Inside
Keep it away from sources of heat as it will dry out too quickly and drop their needles. Make sure you keep an eye on the moisture levels. It will likely need watering every couple of days so put a tray or something else to catch the water that has drained through. The least amount of time you keep it in the house the better and the 12 days of Christmas is a good guideline. A good position will be by a large window that has no radiator or has been turned off.
Pot Grown Nordmann Fir Christmas Tree V's Cut
The obvious advantage is cost, you get to reuse it every year and no need to get rid of it once the season is over. A cut tree will need at least 2cm cut off the bottom before being placed into water otherwise it will dry out and the stand you buy for it may not fit the size of trunk width you bring home.
Buying Mature Containerised Christmas Trees
Something to consider if you are buying a mature containerised tree. Some of these are dug from the ground and then placed in pots which according to a Telegraph article https://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/christmas/6701505/Christmas-trees-in-pots-bad-value-says-Which.html is not good for the tree. If the link is broken, it said:
"So-called 'Living Christmas trees' have become increasingly fashionable with many ethically minded consumers, who do not like the idea of throwing away their 6-foot tree way in the New Year.
Living trees are sold in pots with soil to protect the roots. However, Which? Gardening said the trees, which typically cost between £25 and £40 more than a cut tree often looked dull and lifeless after three weeks, with one variety losing most of its needles.
The study found the roots were damaged when the trees were dug up and placed in pots that were often too small. The trees, used to large fields in which to spread their roots, struggle when decanted into a small plastic container.
However, there is one type of Christmas tree in a pot which is worth considering, the study said. Namely, those grown from a seed rather than those dug up. They performed well in the tests but were the most expensive, with average prices of between £30 and £50, for a six-footer."
Possibly Boring Information About Our Abies Nordmann Fir Trees
The needles of the Abies Nordmann fir are 1.8 mm to 3.5 mm long, 2 mm wide and 0.5 mm thick and do not drop readily when dried out. Potential mature height if planted and not restricted by a pot is around 80m.
Such a good tree that the RHS awarded it an AGM (Award of Garden Merit).
Used as a reforestation tree to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Compared to Picea Abies or Norway Spruce, the Nordmann fir has a denser but softer foliage
Q) I know trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air, will having a tree in the house make my fizzy drinks go flat?
Q) Will my artificial tree be jealous I have moved a younger, better looking tree in?
A) If you find all your Santa suits cut up in your wardrobe, we would suggest possibly.
Other Nordman Fir Resources