FACTS, FIGURES AND TIPS
HOW MANY TREES ARE SOLD EACH YEAR?
The British Christmas Tree Growers Association membership sells around 8 to 10 million trees per year.
HOW HAS CORONAVIRUS IMPACTED THE INDUSTRY?
Due to Covid19, Christmas tree growers have adapted how they will sell this year to ensure everyone’s safety; introducing social distancing measures, sanitisers, one-way systems, payment by card only etc. so consumers can still enjoy the experience of choosing their own tree. Some growers have also introduced online orders and deliveries and click and collect services.
Already, early orders for UK trees from garden centres and farm shops are significantly ahead of 2019 and this year’s sunny weather means Christmas trees are in the best condition.
HOW OLD IS A TYPICAL FULL HEIGHT TREE FOR THE HOME AND WHAT CARE GOES INTO IT THROUGHOUT THE GROWING STAGES?
A typical 6 to 7 feet high Christmas tree is between 10 and 12 years old. Seed is collected from trees either in the wild or in specially selected seed orchards and sown in a nursery where the seedlings then grow for three to four years. The young plants are then planted by a grower and grown on for a further seven to nine years.
The grower must fertilise, shape and prune the tree many times each year, and keep it healthy and beautifully shaped, ready for the customer to enjoy.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT WHO STOCKS A TREE IN MY AREA?
Visit www.bctga.co.uk to access a list of BCTGA members.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHRISTMAS TREES?
Nordmann Fir – This is the most popular Christmas Tree in the UK as it has excellent needle retention, with lush, dark green needles. They are symmetrical trees with strong branches, great for displaying ornaments.
Fraser Fir – These trees have great fragrance with dark green, needles that are silvery underneath. Good needle retention and a pyramid-shaped, strong branches which turn upward.
Noble Fir – Ideal for great needle retention and a fresh fragrance. With bluish-green needles and short, stiff branches; great for heavier ornaments; keeps well.
Douglas Fir – probably the strongest scent of all Christmas trees, very popular in the USA.
A true fir with great shape but a little harder to decorate with baubles as usually much denser.
Norway Spruce – Keep them well watered for good needle retention and enjoy this traditional Christmas tree which is dark green and has a strong fragrance along with a great conical shape.
Blue Spruce – Beautiful, unique blue colouring, needs watering well and has good stiff branches, great for hanging heavy decorations. An ideal small or second tree.
Lodgepole Pine – A low needle-drop tree with beautiful tapering branches, that rarely lose their needles if well hydrated. The needles are green/yellow in colour. The traditionalists Christmas tree.
Serbian Spruce - Tall and slender, with graceful upswept branches. It has glossy dark green needles with slender streaks of white, a very good ornamental alternative.
WHICH IS THE MOST POPULAR VARIETY?
BCTGA estimate about 80% of the trees sold are Nordmann Fir, around 10-15% Norway Spruce, and the remainder are made up from the other varieties.
WHY SHOULD I BUY FROM A BCTGA MEMBER? WHY BRITISH?
Buy a British grown tree to support the local economy, agriculture and the environment. Buying British means money is going directly back into the country’s economy and helping provide employment in the agricultural sector. It’s also good for the environment, Christmas trees provide shelter for birds and wildlife while the trees are growing.
All BCTGA members are asked to comply with a code of practice so that British Christmas trees are grown to the best environmental and sustainable practice. Members aim to grow quality Christmas trees that with the appropriate care will survive the duration of the festivities.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY TREE IS A BCTGA GROWN TREE?
Buy directly from our growers or ask your supplier where the tree has been grown.
REAL OR ARTIFICIAL?
A real Christmas tree bought locally has the lowest carbon footprint.
The Carbon Trust say a real Christmas tree has a “much lower” carbon footprint than an artificial tree, particularly if it is disposed of thoughtfully.
They state that a natural two-metre Christmas tree without roots, disposed of into landfill generates a carbon footprint of around 16kg of CO2.
If the same sized tree is disposed of by burning it on a bonfire, planting it or having it chipped to spread on a garden, it will have a carbon footprint of around 3.5kg of CO2 – an impressive four and a half times less carbon footprint.
A two-metre Christmas tree made from plastic has a carbon footprint of around 40kg of CO2, over 10 times greater than that of a real tree, disposed of properly
Unlike artificial trees, a real Christmas tree naturally absorbs CO2 and releases oxygen and the Soil Association also highlights how a real tree provides a habitat for wildlife and captures carbon from the atmosphere during the 10-12 years they take to grow.
Unlike artificial trees, real trees can also be recycled. Many BCTGA members and local councils across the country offer Christmas tree collection services, where used Christmas trees are picked up and recycled.
There is no need to worry about deforestation when buying a natural Christmas tree, because the majority are grown by BCTGA members as a horticultural crop and are not felled from pre-existing forests.
When a Christmas tree is cut down, it is immediately replaced by another seedling, with up to 10 trees being planted for every average size tree that is grown.
HOW DO I KNOW I’M CHOOSING A FRESH TREE?
A fresh tree will have a healthy green appearance with few browning needles. Needles should be flexible and not fall off if you run a branch through your hand. Raise the tree a few inches off the ground and drop it on the butt end. Very few green needles should drop off the tree but it is normal for a few inner brown needles to drop off.
HOW DO I KEEP MY TREE AT ITS BEST?
When the tree is brought home, it is advantageous if about half an inch is cut off the trunk in order to open up the pores of the tree. The tree should be kept outside in a cool shaded place, standing in water, until it is required indoors. When the tree is brought indoors, mount it in a water-holding stand and place it away from direct heat, such as a radiator. Keep the container topped up with water every day; you will be surprised how much the tree drinks.
HOW LONG HAS THE BCTGA NATIONAL COMPETITION TAKEN PLACE?
The BCTGA was established in 1980 and its annual competition began in 1999.
WHEN WILL THE WINNER BE CHOSEN AND WHAT DO THEY WIN?
The competition takes place in October, with the winners taking the title of “Christmas Tree Grower of the Year” and “Champion Festive Wreath”.
Open to Association members, each tree and wreath entered is assessed and the winners are traditionally granted the honour of delivering an 18’ 6” tree to stand outside No. 10 Downing Street and a wreath to hang on the famous door.
1. Every year since 1947, the tree in London’s Trafalgar Square has been a gift from the city of Oslo, Norway.
2. In a 2004 survey of the nation’s favourite smells, real Christmas trees came eighth just behind the sea but ahead of perfume.
3. Manufactured Christmas tree ornaments were first sold by Woolworths in 1880.
4. Even before the time of Christ, evergreen trees were seen in winter as a symbol of fertility
5. The 16thcentury monk, Martin Luther, is credited with the idea of lights on Christmas trees by adding candles to his tree to look like stars in a forest.
6. England’s first Christmas tree was brought to Windsor by Charlotte, wife of George III, in 1800...
7. ...but it was the trees brought in the 1840s by Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, that led to their popularity throughout the UK.
8. The first use of the term ‘Christmas tree’ in English was in 1835.
9. The world's tallest Xmas tree at 221ft high was erected in a Washington shopping mall in 1950.