Neither single-use cut Christmas trees nor plastic imitations - a botanical garden in Lithuania has seen a surge in demand for rented Christmas trees that are to be returned in mid-January after the festive season ends.
Joining a growing worldwide trend, a botanical garden in the port city of Klaipėda is renting out Christmas trees for the third year now. This season, the requests started coming in early, in November rather than mid-December.
Evelina Jakienė brought her toddler to pick a tree in a pot, saying that she had to rush after hearing that the trees are being booked up more than a month before Christmas.
“We do not want a cut tree and we do not want an artificial tree. And with a potted tree, we experienced there's no place to put it afterwards, which is also a difficulty,” Jakienė says. “But unexpectedly, we found on the internet that we could rent it. It is very convenient, you then return it and the spruce is not cut and thrown away.”
More than half of the 200 trees set aside for rent have already been booked, prompting the botanical garden to put additional 100 trees into pots which are larger than normal to keep the plants well nourished.
Regular and blue spruces as well as firs and even pines are on offer. Depending on the size, the price of renting a plant ranges from 12 to 24 euros.
If the tree is returned undamaged, half of the deposit can be reclaimed. The botanical garden specialists then replant the trees until next year.
Director Asta Klimienė says that the service does not return profit, but the botanical garden is happy to contribute to protecting the environment.
“It is exactly our mission – to educate about the survival of plants and their needs, about plant diversity and its preservation,” according to Klimienė.
Mostly young, environmentally-minded families are interested in the service. Some businesses that want to avoid the trouble of storing potted plants after Christmas are also booking trees by the dozen.
The dendrologists offer recommendations on how to keep the trees alive and well. First and foremost is to follow ancient traditions of bringing the trees indoors and decorating them only on Christmas Eve and taking them outside again on Epiphany.
“One needs to keep [the tree] in the heated room for as short a period as possible,” dendrologist Kristina Baltaragienė says. “It is alive and will have to be brought outside afterwards. So it needs to suffer as little stress as possible.”