closeup of norway fir tree

How to prune Christmas trees

Growing your own conifer as a Christmas tree is lots of fun, and if you keep it in a container for several years you can bring it indoors for the festive season before it gets too big and needs to be planted out. Here’s how to prune your Christmas tree. 

When to prune a Christmas tree

Potted Christmas Tree 'Picea Perfecta' from T&M
Trim lightly at the end of summer if required
Image: Potted Christmas Tree 'Picea Perfecta' from Thompson & Morgan

Christmas trees respond surprisingly well if the growing tips are snipped back regularly in late summer or autumn. Some, like the potted Picea Perfecta (pictured above), maintain their compact size and perfect pyramid shape with very little assistance. 

How to prune your Christmas tree

Abies Normanniana from T&M
Nordmann Firs are a popular Christmas tree choice
Image: Abies Nordmanniana from Thompson & Morgan

To prune your Christmas tree, remove any upward growing stems that compete with the leader, and trim back any wayward shoots to maintain a nice even shape all round. Any dead or damaged shoots should also be removed. The most important thing to remember is that you should not prune back further than the current year’s growth as new growth will not emerge from old wood.

If you’re growing your tree in a container then it’s also important to keep it well fed and watered. If it’s becoming too large for its pot then you’ll need to repot it using John Innes No. 2 compost. Unfortunately Christmas trees are not particularly well suited to growing in pots long-term, and may start to struggle as they mature. If this is the case, plant your tree out in the garden and decorate with outdoor fairy lights to brighten up dark winter evenings. 

Banner image: Krasnikova Kat/ Shutterstock

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