Treating the family to a real Christmas tree is a great way to create a stunning festive centrepiece. Plus, you get to fill your home with the delightful festive scent.

a fireplace in a living room with a christmas tree: Christmas tree care advice to ensure your real Christmas tree looks its best during the festive season. Including expert tips on how to pick and recycle it.

© Siri Stafford – Getty Images
Christmas tree care advice to ensure your real Christmas tree looks its best during the festive season. Including expert tips on how to pick and recycle it.

As well as choosing the best Christmas tree for your home, you also need to make sure you do your best to keep your tree healthy so it lasts through to the new year (and you don’t get pine needles all over the floor).

We asked the Christmas tree experts for their tips for caring for your Christmas tree and keeping it looking its best throughout the festive season.

When’s the best time to buy a Christmas tree?

Some of us like to get into the Christmas mood as soon as possible, popping our tree and decorations up on 1st December, while others prefer to wait until closer to the big day. But does it really matter when it comes to how well your tree will last?

a young boy standing next to a christmas tree: Christmas tree care

© Halfpoint Images – Getty Images
Christmas tree care

And it seems that anytime from 1st December gets a green light. “There’s always a great debate about when the perfect time to put up your tree is, but we say anything after December 1st is ideal,” says Sam Lyle, owner of Christmas tree company Pines and Needles. “Our busiest times are the first and second weekends in December when everyone is getting into the Christmas spirit.”

And many of us may all be eager to get those decorations up early this year after months of Covid-19 restrictions. Sam says their online sales are already up 35% on this time last year as people get those Christmas tree delivery slots booked.

What’s the best size Christmas tree?

Who hasn’t got overexcited and bought a Christmas that fills half their lounge before. What, just me? While you certainly want a tree to be a focal point for the festive season, getting the right size for your space is important.

“Before buying your new Christmas tree, it’s essential to know what space you have available for it,” says Kam Dhillon, Category Manager at B&Q.

a living room with a christmas tree: Christmas tree care

© Siri Stafford – Getty Images
Christmas tree care

“We recommend getting an approximate sense of the available space before buying your tree. It can be helpful to have exact measurements, but they’re not a necessity. And remember all three dimensions are equally important – height, width and depth. Height is easy to get wrong as your tree will probably still need room for a decorative topping (such as a star) and the stand or tub at the base.”

And if you do get a bit ambitious and buy a tree that’s too big? All is not lost.

“Unlike artificial trees, real trees do offer the chance to trim them once home if they don’t quite fit where you’d intended,” explains Kam. “So, if you have overestimated how much space you have, they can be still be cut back.”

What variety of Christmas tree?

Not all Christmas trees are the same. You need to choose a variety that suits your needs or the look you’re going for.

For indoor Christmas trees, the Nordmann Fir gives you that traditional Christmas tree look with needles are much less likely to drop over the festive season, provided it’s cared for properly.

“The Nordmann Fir is the king of the trees because it’s hardy and packed with character,” explains Sam. “Its needles will stay attached throughout the festive season – as long as you don’t stick it next to a radiator – and it will attract admiring glances from all your yuletide visitors.”

If you want an outdoors Christmas tree, the Norway Spruce is a good option – it will give you a classic shape and can be bought in pots. “Pot-grown trees are perfect for outdoors – with entrance porches, front gardens and balconies ideal spots for them to welcome friends and family,” says Kam.

What to look for when choosing a Christmas tree

As we buy a Christmas tree just once a year, it’s easy to get confused when working out if you’ve got a good one. Now you know what size and variety you want, how do you know a Christmas tree is healthy?

a close up of a tree: Christmas tree care

© Nahhan – Getty Images
Christmas tree care

“Whilst each variant of Christmas trees has different characteristics, the most important thing to look out for when choosing the tree is a deep green, healthy looking spruce with little to no brown needles,” says Kam.

“Try giving the tree a little test by running your hands through a few of the branches – if the needles don’t drop you’re on to a winner!”

How care for a Christmas tree

To make sure your Christmas tree looks its best for as long as possible, follow these expert tips from Sam.

🌲 Prepare the trunk 

Just before you install your tree, saw off the bottom 1” (3cm) of the trunk. This creates a fresh cut and opens up the pores in the bark, which otherwise can block up with sap within a few hours of being cut. The tree is then able to drink water through these pores via capillary action.

🌲 Keep it away from any heat sources

Position your Christmas tree away from any heat sources such as radiators and fireplaces. Heat dries out your tree faster, so the further from potentially damaging heat sources the better, and the fresher your tree will remain.

🌲 Keep conditions stable

Do not expose your tree to sudden changes in temperature. Trees like most people are creatures of habit and prefer steady conditions.

🌲 Water your tree

Place your tree in plain water – not soil or sand which would block the pores in the bark. This is best achieved by using a specially designed Christmas Tree Stand. Many precious hours can be wasted trying to make a Christmas Tree stand up straight in an ordinary bucket using just bricks or stones!

🌲 Then keep on watering it

Keep the Christmas tree stand topped up with water. Your Christmas tree may drink 2-3 pints (1-2 litres) of water per day, depending on its size and your central heating settings. This is very important as once the water level drops below the tree’s trunk, sap will re-seal the bark within a few hours, preventing the tree from drinking any further water even if you then re-fill the Christmas tree stand. 

How do you recycle a Christmas tree?

Once the festivities are over and you’ve taken down your Christmas tree – by 12th night or 5 January if you’re following tradition – your next task is to dispose of it responsibly.

“It’s important to ensure you dispose of your Christmas tree properly once the festive season is over,” says Kam. “If you have a cut tree, transport it to your nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre for recycling or find out if your local council offers a curbside collection. If not, contact your council to confirm what recycling options they offer.

“For pot-grown trees transplant into your garden. Re-pot the tree into a larger-sized container, being careful to give the root ball sufficient space to expand and grow. If successful, you could bring indoors to enjoy next Christmas.”

Pine and Needles deliver trees to London and South East England, mainly using British trees from sustainable forests.

B&Q’s range of pot grown trees are available in store from now, and cut trees from 9th November. For the first time ever, B&Q’s range of Christmas trees will be available for home delivery, as well as Click + Collect.

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