East Durham Garden Centre’s guide to caring for your real Christmas tree

Dec 15, 2023 | Local News

We are officially in the Christmas spirit and there is no doubt that a real tree adds that bit of festive magic to your living room.

Real Christmas trees generally last for four to five weeks in the home, so buying one now means it will see you through the whole month and into January. However, caring for a real Christmas tree can be a bit daunting but by following our simple yet effective tips, you can ensure that your tree remains vibrant, fragrant, and visually stunning throughout the festive season.

Choosing the Perfect Real Christmas Tree

When selecting a real Christmas tree, look for vibrant, green needles and ensure the tree feels plump and healthy. A fresh tree will have a lush aroma and minimal needle shedding. Consider the size and shape of your space to ensure the tree fits perfectly.  British Garden Centres stock the popular Nordmann Fir with its symmetrical shape, well-spaced branches, soft, glossy, dark green foliage, and excellent needle retention, making it an ideal choice.  Your local store will also stock the Norway Spruce which is a more traditional-looking tree that emits a long-lasting fragrance. Or why not try the Fraser Fir which is popular due to its needle retention, dark blue-green colour and fresh scent and the Blue Spruce which is an attractive symmetrical tree with blue foliage?

Tree Preparation

Before bringing your real Christmas tree indoors, saw off approximately 3 inches off the trunk to allow better water absorption. Place the tree in a sturdy stand with a water reservoir and avoid exposing it to direct sunlight, heat sources, or strong drafts.


Maintaining proper hydration is crucial for preserving the tree’s freshness and minimizing needle drop. Check the water level daily and ensure the base of the tree remains submerged. A well-hydrated tree will maintain its colour and fragrance throughout the holiday season.  Don’t be alarmed if it is thirsty in its first few days at home, it can consume 2-3 pints (1-2 litres) of water per day. After a week, the intake should decrease, and it won’t require as much water. Daily watering also reduces the risk of fires significantly so it’s very important, not just for the tree, but for yourself and your home.


To prolong your tree’s lifespan, keep the room cool and humid by using a humidifier or placing a bowl of water near the tree. Additionally, minimise the tree’s exposure to heat sources such as radiators or fireplaces to prevent your tree from drying out.  Your tree will thrive in an open, well-ventilated area and give you joy over the next few weeks.


When adorning your real Christmas tree, opt for lightweight, non-heat-producing and energy-efficient LED lights to minimise heat and reduce the risk of fire. Arrange decorations evenly to prevent strain on branches and ensure the tree retains its natural shape.


Once the Christmas season is over, consider recycling your Christmas tree to promote sustainability. Many communities offer tree recycling programmes, or you can repurpose the tree as mulch for landscaping or wildlife habitat. If you have a pot-grown tree, you can transplant it into your garden after Christmas. However, it’s better to let the tree acclimatise itself to colder temperatures before planting it outside. We suggest keeping the tree in a porch or garage for a few days before planting it.

Before planting the tree, ensure that it has enough roots to thrive. Choose a sunny but sheltered spot for planting, leaving plenty of space for growth. Avoid planting during frosty weather and wait for a milder temperature. Once you have dug the hole, carefully lower the tree into the ground and fill it with compost. Finally, pack the top of the soil with about three to four centimetres of high-quality mulch. Water regularly and fertilise in spring.