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For about 10 years, we have grown 2 fir trees in the garden, I'm not sure which variety, but definitely, one that is recognisably a "Christmas Tree".

They reached a nice size and, last Christmas, I chopped one down and brought it indoors for the season.

Big mistake. It yielded

  1. thousands of flies,
  2. hundreds of spiders, then finally
  3. sap, dropping onto the carpet.

The plan was to bring in the other one next Christmas - but only if it is as little trouble as a commercial one - i.e. none at all.

Can anyone please advise what I would need to do to the tree to make it have none of these downsides? What do commercial growers do?

EDIT: I am in the South East of England if that is of significance.

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  • was it below freezing outside at the time? Is it ever? Jan 27, 2023 at 17:42
  • @KateGregory It would have been around 0 Celsius in December here. The tree will have probably experienced -2 or -3 every winter in its life, but that would (typically) be for 1 to 3 days per year I would say. 0 Celsius to 7 Celsius would be more common between December and February.
    – Lefty
    Jan 27, 2023 at 19:03

2 Answers 2

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Flies and spiders - My suggestion would be to spray it with insecticide a few days before you want to bring it in. If you are avers to that, then use some sort of mineral oil.

Sap - This would only ooze out from cut surfaces. So, perhaps prune it a few days before you bring it in, so the wounds have had a chance to heal.

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  • Thank you - spraying with insecticide was my thought, unless somebody knows that commercial growers do something a easier and less nasty. But you've made me realise that the sap was almost certainly exuding from the places where we pruned it - I had naively assumed it had just been coming out of the tree all along.
    – Lefty
    Jan 28, 2023 at 10:42
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Some varieties of tree drip sap from their needles when they get warm. You can check for this when the weather turns warm. Put some cloth under the tree and see if it gets drops.

Getting the insects out is a challenge. There are lots of insecticides safe for you. And lots safe for the tree. And some that work for each kind of insect. You need to find one that works for all three. And also does not make the tree look terrible. Insecticide soap for example, is safe for you. And if you can wash it off before you bring in the tree you can probably avoid having the tree look dull. But soap does not work on every kind of insect. And you would have to cover the whole tree.

Prep the tree in warm weather. Try removing everything from near and on the tree that might harbor insects. Dead leaves and other debris. Weeds or high grass. Dead twigs or loose dead bark. This tidying may also improve the look of the tree.

Then, before it gets cold, take the hose to it and wash it thoroughly. Especially on the bottom side of branches. Let it dry. Then dose it with insecticide. Then after a couple days wash it again to get rid of the chemical.

Then look back at all the work. If you enjoy this "gardening" great! If not, the stores still sell xmas trees.

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