Make sure your Christmas tree is a sparkling success by choosing it carefully, then looking after it well.


Before you go shopping, decide where your tree will go and measure the space beforehand - many people buy a tree that is too wide.

Select a healthy-looking tree - it should have a good shape, and bright, shiny needles - then pick it up. The heavier if feels, the fresher it will be as it will have lost less moisture since being cut.

More Christmas creativity:
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Tap the base of the tree on the ground to check for needle retention - if it drops a lot of needles, don't buy it.

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Net wrapping will protect the tree while you transport it. If it has to travel on your car roof, make sure the base faces forward to protect the foliage from any more moisture loss.

Once you get your tree home, here are four easy steps to caring for it.

You Will Need

  • Bucket
  • Pruning saw
  • Watering can
  • Shredder, (optional)

Total time: 15 minutes

Step 1

Sawing the trunk
Sawing the trunk

Retain the netting cover while you saw the trunk off level for it to stand upright. Keep the tree in a bucket of water outside for a day or two to absorb water before moving it indoors.

Step 2

Filling a watering can
Filling a watering can

Secure the tree in a water-retaining stand in your chosen location, then release the branches from the netting. Fill the stand with water and keep the needles fresh by topping up the water every couple of days.

Step 3

Christmas tree with fire in the background
Christmas tree with fire in the background

Place the tree away from direct heat, such as an open fire or a radiator for the longest possible display of fresh, scented needles. Give it plenty of space so that air can circulate around it, too.

Step 4

Shredded Christmas tree
Shredded Christmas tree

Many councils will collect Christmas trees for recycling. Alternatively, make good use of the tree long after Christmas by shredding the branches and collecting the shreddings to spread under shrubs in the garden, where it will act as a weed-suppressing mulch.

Frequently asked questions

Help! My Christmas tree doesn't smell.

There are lots of reasons why your Christmas tree doesn't smell. Different types of Christmas tree have different fragrances – Norway Spruce trees have a strong traditional Christmas smell but tend to shed their needles easily, so many retailers now sell Nordmann Fir trees, which keep their needles for longer but have a much fainter fragrance. Always check the type of tree you're buying before you buy it.

Another reason could be that the tree is dehydrated. Keeping it well watered will help it stay alive for longer and therefore produce more of its essential oils, which means more fragrance.

Some christmas trees are dipped to stop respiration and needle drop, but this also stops the tree releasing its fragrant essential oils, so check on this before you buy.

If you find that your tree is not fragrant, don't worry. You can buy candles or essential oils to give your home that classic 'Christmas' fragrance for the time being, then make sure you buy the best Christmas tree for your needs, next year.

Help! My pot-grown Christmas tree has brown needles.

If grown in a pot, Christmas trees need a lot of care, including watering, feeding and repotting, to ensure it has the nutrients it needs to thrive. Browning needles indicates that the tree is struggling – probably from a lack of water and/or food. Give it a good drink and a feed immediately, but unfortunately it may be too late to save it.

How do I repot my Christmas tree?

Container-grown Christmas trees need repotting annually into a container the next size up, until you reach a maximum pot diameter of around 45cm, beyond which you will have difficulty moving the tree indoors for Christmas. Always repot into a peat-free, soil-based compost such as John Innes No 2, scraping as much of the old compost from the rootball as possible to ensure the tree has the maximum possible amount of nutrients to grow for the following year.