What’s big, green, prickly and reminds you of Christmas? The Grinch.
That's right, a Christmas tree! And nothing screams Merry Christmas more than the smell of a fresh fir tree draped in tinsel, twinkling lights and a star shining on top.
If you are looking for the real deal, but you’re worried that a real tree will wilt and shed its needles before the big day, here is everything you need to know.
What kind of trees last the longest?
A typical pine, fir or spruce tree should last roughly five weeks when maintained properly, though they age in different ways, depending on the type of tree and environmental factors.
Fir trees - especially While Normann, Noble and Fraser - are perfect for retaining their needles and sustaining a fresh wintery smell. Their branches can be susceptible to softening throughout the weeks, however, and this may cause the tree to look like it is drooping.
Of all the pine trees, a lodgepole pine is a firm favourite, despite its hard needles. This tight branched, dark green tree is quintessentially festive and the harder needles might help keep your nosy pets away from it.
While a white pine has slightly more aroma, the branches tend to stoop quicker than the lodgepole.
Spruce trees - particularly Norway spruce - don’t have a great needle retention. However, the blue spruce (which is actually green) is arguably the species that most artificial trees are based on and when watered, retains its needles well.
These trees tend to maintain firm branches and their fragrance isn’t too overpowering but remains relatively fresh even when cut.
You should also be aware that trees bought pre-cut may have already been lying for a day or so -potentially among other cut trees and wet branches - therefore the best way to ensure you get the cream of the crop is to select your tree while it is still standing.
How do I maintain my Christmas tree?
First, you will need a bucket, saw, watering can and tree pot or stand.
As quickly as possible, take your tree from its netting and water it to avoid dehydration, then remove about 25mm from the bottom of the trunk - this allows the trunk to be as fresh as possible and absorb water quicker.
Before erecting the tree, shake it outside to rid it of any dead foliage which could attract mould and decompose on the tree.
The most important thing to remember is to water your tree since theyare made up of almost 50% water.
Keeping them hydrated is the best way to ensure they stay alive for as long as possible, and a real tree can absorb between one and two litres of water every day.
Avoid placing your tree near a radiator or fireplace and try to ensure air circulates freely - an ideal spot would be near a window.
Submerging the base of your tree in sand or soil will also make it age quicker as it will be less able to absorb water.
How do I get rid of my real Christmas tree?
Trees decompose like any other natural waste but it might be a bit big for your own recycling bin.
Contact your local waste centre who will be able to help you dispose of it in an eco friendly way.
Should you have needles left lying around your sitting room, hoovering them up will ensure no pets or people trample on them as they can give off a distinctive smell and may irritate any animal’s skin.