Gardening: Tips on planting out your potted Christmas trees

It's time to take down your Christmas tree, but if you have a potted conifer with roots, what do you do with it?

Friday, 5th January 2018, 4:49 pm
Updated Friday, 5th January 2018, 5:00 pm
A Christmas fir tree.

Luckily, here are five top tips from the plant experts Lubera if you plan to plant it out in your garden.

1. As always, right plant, right place is crucial.

Compact Oriental spruce aurea. Picture: Lubera.

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Potted Christmas trees need to develop freely, without having to be constantly cut back, which will ruin its natural shape.

2. Find out the mature size of your potted tree.

Some conifers are massive and really aren’t suitable for a small or even average-sized garden – make sure you provide enough space.

Dwarf conifers don’t like a lot of competition – due to their low growth, they can disappear between other plants and get bare completely or on one side with lack of light and nutrients.

Alberta spruce conica perfecta. Picture: Lubera.

3. Dwarf coniferous plants, including the compactly growing Christmas trees, work best individually or in small groups with other slow-growing plants.

Columnar conifers are well suited in pairs for marking entrances.

4. Most conifers are undemanding, needing a sunny or partially shaded site, with neutral or slightly acidic soil.

They tolerate waterlogging poorly, so the soil must be well-drained, but not get too dry.

Compact Oriental spruce aurea. Picture: Lubera.

5. When planting, shake out the root ball, which makes it easier for roots to penetrate the new soil around it and anchor the tree into the soil.

Plant at the same level as in the pot.

For more information on how to plant out your Christmas tree in the garden, visit


Alberta spruce conica perfecta. Picture: Lubera.

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Prune apple and pear trees – at least get rid of any branch that’s dead, damaged, diseased or rubbing on another one. Then spray your trees with winter wash or home-made garlic spray, which will kill insect eggs.

Mulch borders with leaf mould, compost, well rotted manure, or even old gro-bags, at least two inches thick.

Plant lily bulbs in pots and in borders during mild spells.

Cut off old leaves of hellebores that produce flowers from ground level so you can see them. Watch out for hellebore leaf spot.

Start cutting back grasses that have been left for winter structure – the winds will have battered them by now.

During dry, mild spells, you can still lift and divide herbaceous perennials.

Inspect stored tubers of dahlias and cannas. Too damp and they will rot, too dry and they will die.

Some pots outside under eaves or balconies may need watering. Keep them moist (not too wet), and don’t let them dry out.

Plant bare root deciduous hedging, trees and roses, staking before planting, so you don’t damage the root ball. Move deciduous trees and shrubs, if the ground is not frozen or waterlogged.

Indoor forced bulbs for Christmas displays, which have finished flowering, can be left outside in a sheltered spot, to die down.

In a cold snap, place floats on the surface of ponds to keep them from freezing over – this can be fatal for fish and pond life. To make a hole in frozen ponds, hold a saucepan of hot water on the surface until melted through. Do NOT crack the ice.