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December is here and that means it’s time to think about a key part of the seasonal celebrations – buying the Christmas tree.

The days of just having a Norway spruce to choose from are long gone, so here’s our guide to picking a real tree.

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The Nordman fir keeps its needles well. Photo: Bruno/Pixabay

The Nordman fir is the UK’s most popular Christmas tree and that’s because it holds on to its needles well and is easy to look after.

It’s a symmetrical tree with dark green tightly packed foliage and strong branches that can hold plenty of baubles and decorations, and it copes well with central heating. Doesn’t have much scent though.

Take the headache out of finding a real tree for a small space by choosing a Fraser fir. Offering a compact pyramid shape, its branches bend upwards and its needles are fairly soft as needles go. It retains them well too. The foliage has a grey/blue underside and offers a citrus fragrance.

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Beware the sharp needles on the Blue Spruce: Photo: Manfred Richter/Pixabay

With a wide base, the Blue spruce has foliage with the hue its name suggests and a fine fragrance. However, its needles are sharp and unforgiving so worth bearing in mind if you have small children.

It will also need regular watering to keep the needles on its dense branches rather than the floor.

The Norway spruce is a traditional buy, but it does readily drop its needles in the warm, so better suited to cooler hallways away from heat. It offers thick but soft foliage, just make sure you keep it watered. Worth considering if you are counting the pennies.

A popular choice across the pond, the Douglas fir is ideal if you like a strong citrus fragrance.

Its dark green or blue-green needles are soft and have good longevity on the branches. This fir also offers a handsome shape, but its flexible branches mean you’ll have to go easy on the decorations.

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Looking after your Christmas trees

  • When you get your tree home, make a straight cut to remove 2-3cms from the base, as this will help it take up water more readily.
  • Keep your tree away from radiators or fires; turn off the lights on the tree when not needed.
  • Avoid cutting the edges to make it fit into a stand as this will inhibit the tree’s ability to take up water.
  • Watering your tree every day will keep it happy and looking its Christmas best.

And when Christmas is over, your tree can be a free gift for your garden as shredded branches can be used as a mulch. Alternatively, check with your council if they are running a recycling scheme.

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