Christmas is not far away and, amongst everything else, this means decorating, gift buying and choosing the perfect tree. Together with Compost Direct, gardening experts and retailers of multi-purpose compost, we look at where Christmas trees originate from and compare real and artificial trees.
Where does it all begin?
Many people may believe that Christmas trees come from far and wide, but in reality, many of them are grown on UK home soil. There are many wholesale Christmas tree farmers in the UK and most of their produce goes to garden centres and supermarkets in the country. UK Christmas tree sales accumulate to £280m on average and three quarters of these are home grown.
A popular choice for the Christmas tree buyer is the Nordmann fir. Its attraction lies with its soft foliage and glossy green needles — making it a perfect tree for decorating! But before you hang tinsel and baubles off its branches, where did it all begin?
The first thing that Christmas tree farmers do is take seeds from cones of mature trees and sow them in plant beds. A protective sheet is placed over the top to prevent any damage from frost or sunlight. For the first two years of their life, weed control is essential to eliminate any competition for moisture, nutrients or sunlight.
The seeds spend the first three years of their life in these plant beds before they are transported to bigger beds for their roots to grow strong and establish themselves. Christmas tree farmers can have hundreds of trees in one field, and must look after them all.
The next seven to eight years are crucial — farmers must take extra care of the trees in this period of their life span. This is to ensure they grow in the right way and are suitable to meet customer demand. This is done by trimming the sides of the tree regularly to maintain the classic Christmas tree look; it can be cut in different ways to grow into a ‘full’ or ‘open’ tree. Bud-rubbing is another practise that farmers must do which is where the buds are removed from the top row of branches to enable the side branches to further develop – this results in a thicker tree.
Ahead of harvesting, farmer place coloured ribbons on their trees. These code for different sizes, species and price brackets to help with the sales process. In total, it takes around 12-15 years from seed to harvest!
The choice between real and artificial
Despite the novelty of a real Christmas tree, many people opt for an artificial tree when it comes down to it.
Following analysis of Google trends, it can be seen that there is more search volume around artificial trees — 14,800 searches were conducted around this term compared to 9,900 for real Christmas trees. However, this could be due to the purchase process of each (some fake trees can be bought online).
No two real trees are the same — from a Nordmann fir to a Blue spruce, real trees come in all different shapes and sizes. One advantage of grown trees is that, unlike artificial trees, you can choose a tree suitable for your own home and know that no one else will have one the same.
Depending on the size of course, it is likely that you’ll spend more on an artificial tree than you would on a fake tree. Moreover, an artificial tree will last you around 10 years whereas a real tree will only last a few weeks.
Many people are against buying a real tree as they believe that it is harmful to the environment as essentially it is cutting down a plant. However, these trees are a crop and it is not dangerous to cut them down. Unlike artificial trees, real trees are biodegradable too – reducing their carbon footprint further.
Alternatively, you could become a Christmas tree farmer yourself. Cultivating this profitable crop could be a great investment!