Christmas tree shopping on a budget

For many of us, the start of the Christmas is marked by buying and decorating a Christmas tree. At Moneybags, we want you to save wherever you’re spending. Here’s our guide on how to buy a good quality Christmas tree without getting ripped off.

South African nurseries mostly stock a Japanese Cedar called Cryptomeria Japonica as it grows faster in our climate than the American cedar version. Closer to Christmas, independent merchants tend to pop up on street corners selling these trees. They usually come in cheaper than those purchased at nurseries, but the quality may not be as good.  As December nears, you are also likely to find good deals on Christmas trees by searching for options online. Independent merchants tend to advertise both real and artificial trees on sites such as Bidorbuy and Gumtree. Always check if the delivery cost is included in the price and never make a transfer without having first viewed the tree or checked that the retailer is genuine.

It is important to make sure the product you purchase is healthy. Here’s what to look out for:

•    Ensure that it has plenty of green foliage. Needles should be flexible when you run your hand through them.

•    A tree with more branches is a good indication of health.

•    Test the strength of its stem. A strong stem equals a healthy tree.

•    Shake the tree. If a lot of green foliage falls off, the tree is unhealthy.

•    Ask about the dates of delivery. Trees delivered at different times during the festive season tend to be fresher than those delivered once at the beginning of the season.

•    Do not worry if a few needles are a brownish colour. This is normal in fresh trees.

Once you’ve bought the tree, you need to know how to take the best possible care of it. A Christmas tree should generally last between four and six weeks.  It is important to place your tree in a pot of fresh soil and keep it moisturized for maximum life span.
Here’s how to get the most out of your tree:

1.    Don’t allow your tree to get too hot. Keep it in a cool room and away from too much direct sunlight.

2.   “Never order a tree with the roots if you plan to have it indoors,” says Kathy Mel of Realchristmastrees.co.za.  “Its growth will be stunted due to a lack of space in a pot and it will cost you twice as much for its delivery.”

3.     Unplug your Christmas tree lights at night to avoid drying up the pine needles.

4.    “Purchase insect repellent granules and place in pot with tree,” says Ashrif Vajat, manager of Super Plants Family Garden Centre. “The granules dissolve in water and are absorbed by the tree, becoming poisonous to insects.”

5.    Make sure the water level covers the base of the tree – if the base dries out, the tree won’t be able to absorb water. “Treat your tree like you would treat roses. Ensure it has clean water and is kept in a shady and cool spot,” says Mel.

We investigated and found the following prices at local nurseries:

Johannesburg
Montrose Nursery
Tel: 011 783 1252
66 b South Rd, Morningside, Sandton
Small 72cm tree:  R180
Large 1.2m and larger trees: R370

Kathy Mel
Tel: 083 600 9622
16 Cambridge Avenue, Craighall Park
www.realchristmastrees.co.za

1.5m tree: R300
1.8m tree:  R350
2.1m tree: R400

Cape Town
Super Plants Family Garden Centre
Tel: 021 558 0190
Goldcrest/ Lemon Cypress Christmas Tree (Trees come with roots still intact):
1,5m to 1.7m tree:  R 400
0,5m to 1m:  R 140
Stodels Nursery Kenilworth
Tel: 021 671 9050
Stodels Garden Centre, Doncaster Road, Kenilworth

40-70cm tree: R100
1.1 m tree: R120
1.6 m tree: R300

Artificial Trees
Artificial trees tend to be more expensive. However, used year after year, they may be considered a wiser investment. Makro has the following options:

Artificial 228cm tree (Decorated) for R 1599
Artificial 150cm tree (Undecorated) for R 500

Click here for more information.

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*All prices correct at time of publication and subject to change thereafter.



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