How To Choose A Real Christmas Tree

Many people believe that Christmas would not have the same festive feel without the scent of a 'real' Christmas tree. They're naturally fresh, giving off a lovely aroma, and here Martyn Loach gives advice on which ones to buy..

Created by Martyn Loach on Tuesday, 6th of December, 2016.


Choosing a Real Christmas Tree

Although practicalities, price and personal choice will all affect your choice of Christmas tree, there are many other criteria.

A more open tree might be suitable if you have lots of decorations You might also consider the tree's strength if the ornaments are many or heavy. And to avoid hands that resemble pin cushions, you can choose a tree without sharp needles.

As for colour, you may prefer a bright or dark green - the latter show lights to better effect - or the attractive hue of Blue Spruce.

Some trees also have to be shaped when they are grown and this will be reflected in their higher price. As will be the case with harder to grow and less popular varieties.

Firs, spruces and pines are the traditional species of Christmas trees and here are the most popular ones that you will find in garden centres:

Nordmann Fir (non-drop)

Particularly popular 'non-drop' tree as the glossy dark green needles with contrasting underside are blunt. A 'proper' Christmas Tree shape with a generous base and symmetrical shape.

Fraser Fir (non-drop)

Similar to the Nordmann with soft needles, good fragrance and neatly cone shaped with a narrower base to suit a smaller room. Good needle retention, easy to decorate.

Scots Pine (non-drop)

Great bright green colour and fragrance with a pleasing shape and strong branches, will remain fresh and retain its sharper needles throughout Christmas.

Blue Spruce (non-drop)

Very attractive grey green / blue colour, nice scent, but with non-drop sharp needles. Strong branches are suitable to hold lots of baubles and treats.

Lodgepole Pine (non-drop)

The name gives a clue as to how American Indians used this tree, it has both great fragrance and excellent needle retention. Similar to Scots Pine.

Norway Spruce

Until recently Britain's most popular tree, but its short and painfully sharp needles will drop very readily especially if water isn't provided.

And here are how they are sold:

Cut Christmas Trees

Commercially grown and cut down just above ground height. If an inch is cut off the bottom of the trunk and the tree is kept well watered, this type will survive the Christmas season in good shape especially the non-drop varieties, It will then need to be recycled.

Potted (sometimes referred to as Containerised)

These trees have been lifted with some of their roots and potted. Take note that the root system is extremely unlikely to sustain any future growth and won't noticeably prevent needle drop.

Container Grown Trees

These have actually been grown in containers and should be cared for in the same way as a potted plant. They can be planted out in the garden if you have the right type of moisture retentive acid soil.

So before going to the garden centre, consider:

  1. What size and shape is most appropriate to where the tree is to be positioned  
  2. Whether needle drop important
  3. How many and what type of ornaments / lights are going to be used for decoration 
  4. How the tree will be watered and what type of stand or container is required
  5. Whether the tree is destined to be recycled or planted out in the garden

When you have all the answers, you'll be odds-on to buy the perfect tree for your particular needs.

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