A Naramata Christmas tree grower says that leaving just one branch attached to the stump will allow the tree to regrow in half the time. (File photo)

Leave a limb, save a tree

Cutting down a Christmas tree doesn’t have to be the end of the story

Three years ago, Rod Hollett made a mistake in his Christmas tree farm, and now he says it’s opened his eyes to a different way to care for his trees.

“You don’t have to kill a tree,” he said, meaning the usual practice of cutting a Christmas tree as close to the ground as possible. “If you leave a limb, you haven’t killed a tree.”

Hollett, who owns the Christmas tree farm at Naramata and Davenport Roads, accidentally left a bottom branch on the stump of a tree, and later noticed that branch was standing vertically.

“Now I’ve got one that is three years old and it is filling out,” he said. “That branch actually stands right up in a year and by the second year, it starts to fill out. The third year it looks like a Christmas tree.”

Hollett says by the fourth year, he expects it to be ready to go home as a Christmas tree, rather than the eight years it takes for a nursery seedling.

“I’ve been doing this for quite a few years, selling trees, but I never knew that by leaving a limb, it would grow again.”

For the last couple of years, Hollett has been asking people that come to his Naramata farm to leave a bottom branch attached to the stump when they cut a tree. Most are willing, he said.

“You wouldn’t believe how willing they are to leave a limb. Nobody wants to kill a tree,” said Hollett. He’s hoping that people who head out into the bush to find a Christmas tree might adopt the same strategy.

“If they knew to leave a limb, I bet that everybody that everybody that goes up in the forest would do that,” said Hollett. “Then they could go back in four years and cut the same tree down.”

“So the tree is six inches shorter. It isn’t going to hurt anything,” said Hollett, adding that many people cut off the lower limbs at home anyway, to make the tree fit the pot or stand.

Hollett thinks the tree starts regrowing to quickly is the root system is putting all its energy into that single branch.

“The stump is mature now, so it is feeding that tree tons of food. It was used to feeding an eight-foot tree, and now it is feeding a branch. It just takes off.,” said Hollett. “It’s a four-year time period vs. the little guy you put in there is eight years.”

But when you cut a stump down, its dead, with no chance to regrow, he said.

“I thought it would be good to end the Christmas season with something that saves a tree,” said Hollett.

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