Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a living tree in a home. As time goes by, fresh Christmas trees gradually lose moisture, which increases their flammability. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.
The British Christmas Tree Growers Association gives invaluable tips on how to care for your Christmas Tree:
Fresh – Where possible choose a freshly cut tree. A tree absorbs water better from a freshly cut trunk. Speak to your retailer when you buy your tree to find out when it was harvested or remove 1/2″ from the base of the trunk before you display your tree in your home. If your tree has been cut on the day you collect it you should leave it outside to rest for 24 hours before taking it inside your home, this will allow your tree to ‘shut down’ before being taken into a warm room.
Care – Your tree should be watered and cared for, just as you would for any house plant. A tree should be treated like any plant being brought into a warm, dry atmosphere. To ensure maximum longevity, water your tree each day and it will reward you with that wonderful fragrance and great needle retention. We recommend a Christmas tree stand that holds water. Keep your stand topped up with water; you will be surprised how much the tree drinks! Keep your tree away from radiators or other sources of heat. If you have underfloor heating consider turning the zone off where your Christmas tree is or put your Christmas tree on a mat to try and prevent it from getting too hot.
Plan – If you’re not setting up your tree straight away, place it in a bucket of water in a sheltered spot in your garden or garage until you’re ready to bring it inside to decorate. After Christmas, if you are growing on a pot grown tree it may benefit from being reacclimatised to colder temperatures before being put outside.
Check – Your tree should look fresh and green. Gently run your hand down a branch or tap the tree lightly on the floor, it is normal for a few needles to come away but this will be minimal with a fresh tree. Some Christmas trees are container grown, which means they have been grown for at least one season in their pots. They are smaller and seldom more than 3ft. Often, it is possible to lift the tree’s whole root system out of the pot and see the closely woven root which has grown inside. If you are looking to grow your tree on choose a pot grown tree rather than a potted tree (which will have been grown in the ground and transferred to a pot).
Plant – After Christmas, pot grown trees can either be planted out with a very good chance of success or they can be left to grow on in a pot for a few years. When taking your pot grown tree out after Christmas, ideally put it garage or porch to allow it to acclimatize. Check the root system on your tree to see if it needs re-potting into a larger container ready for new growth in the spring. Make sure you keep your pot grown tree well watered during prolonged dry, hot spells.
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Disposal – Many BCTGA members, charities and local Councils offer Christmas tree collection services, where used Christmas trees are picked up and recycled. We recommend that trees are disposed of in this way, where collection service is available.
For advice and guidance for staying safe at home this festive season visit www.firescotland.gov.uk
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