How to care for your real Christmas tree

How to care for your real Christmas tree

If you'd love to have a real Christmas tree this year, but the thought of maintaining it is putting you off, you've come to the right place.

While real trees do require some TLC, they are generally pretty simple and not overly time-consuming to care for. And the benefits of having a lush, real tree in your home make any effort entirely worth it!

Snow Christmas Tree

A real Christmas tree does need some looking after but is worth the effort.

Where to begin

Caring for your real Christmas tree begins before you've even brought it home. One of the key elements to a happy and healthy tree is choosing the right one. Consider the following:

  • How long do you want the tree to last? Do you like decorating early or prefer to only have your tree up for a couple of weeks?

  • Do you want a freshly cut tree or a pot-grown tree? (See below)

  • What size of space do you have? Measuring carefully and choosing the right size of Christmas tree for your room will help it look magical.

Ensure you allow space for the Christmas tree stand and tree topper when calculating height.

Children in Snowy outdoor with Christmas Tree

Christmas tree care begins before you even choose your tree.

Freshly cut trees

Most real Christmas trees bought in the UK are fresh cut, which means they've been grown on a tree farm and cut down for use over the festive season. Freshly cut Christmas trees are easier to look after than pot-grown ones and last longer indoors, with some species of trees looking great for up to 4 weeks inside.

The Nordmann Fir is an excellent choice if you like to decorate early. It's known as the 'no drop tree' and will hold its needles incredibly well. Some Christmas tree varieties, such as the Norway Spruce, are more prone to needle drop and won't look fabulous for quite as long. However, they are ideal for those who prefer to get the decorations up in mid to late December.

You can order your tree from Christmas Trees Direct in advance to be delivered in a specific week to suit you.

Christmas Tree Fresh Cut

Freshly cut are the easiest type of real Christmas trees to look after.

Getting your tree home

When your chosen tree is delivered, the first thing you should do is place it in a bucket filled with water.

Before taking your tree inside, cut off around an inch from the bottom of the trunk. In the time in-between your tree being harvested and delivered, the sap will have acted to heal the cutting wound. Making a fresh cut will help water absorption and result in fewer needles falling onto floor coverings.

Christmas Tree transportation

Cutting a chunk from the bottom of the tree stem will help aid water absorption.

Gently shake the tree to get rid of loose needles - you don't want to be hoovering them up when you take the tree inside! Don't worry if more fall than you expect; it's perfectly normal for some internal needles to drop, and this won't affect the appearance of the tree.

Leave the tree sitting in the bucket of water (a garage, shed or cool conservatory is ideal for this) until you're ready to decorate it.

Finding the right spot

The perfect spot for your Christmas tree should be in natural daylight but not near a heat source, such as a wood stove or fire. Heat will dry the tree out faster, so it's best to make sure your tree is at least 4 ft away from radiators and vents.

Avoid putting the tree somewhere that it will be in the way. Blocking thoroughfares or having to manoeuvre around the tree means more fallen pine needles as people brush past the tree.

Some people like to keep their tree in a pot filled with small rocks to keep it upright, but we'd always recommend using a tree stand. These are specifically designed to keep Christmas trees stable and have plenty of watering space inside. Don't place your cut tree in soil or sand, as this will limit the amount of moisture the tree can take in.

Christmas Tree ornament

Place your tree away from any heat source to prevent it becoming a fire hazard.

Water, water, water

A constant supply of fresh water is essential for your tree's vitality. Watering your tree is the most important thing you can do to keep your tree in great shape for longer. You may be surprised at just how thirsty Christmas trees can be, so keep an eye on your tree stand and ensure it is never empty. A real Christmas tree can absorb up to 2 litres of water every day, so be sure to top it up with fresh water frequently. There is no need to use distilled water for your tree - plain tap water is just fine.

A well-watered tree will hold its needles better and stay green for longer, so it's definitely worth taking a few minutes out of your day to ensure your Christmas tree lasts the whole festive period.

Big Christmas Tree Farm

Give your Christmas tree water every day for a long lasting fresh tree. A real Christmas tree can drink 1-2 litres of water every day.


A fresh-cut Christmas tree won't last forever and can't be re-planted after the festivities are over, which means you'll need to dispose of it responsibly. Many local authorities arrange for trees to be collected and recycled, so check your local council website for info. Many councils will also accept chopped-up trees placed in your garden waste bin.

Remember to remove all tinsel, ribbon and fragile ornaments from your tree before composting it or sending it to be recycled into chippings for garden mulch.

Christmas Tree top

Make sure all Christmas lights and decorations are removed before disposing of a real Christmas tree.

Pot grown trees

Looking after a pot-grown tree is a little different to caring for a freshly cut one. For a start, you won't be sawing a chunk from the bottom of the trunk!

Pot-grown Christmas trees have the root ball intact and live in their pots all year round. They are kept in the garden or patio throughout the year and brought inside for the festive season. Think of a pot-grown tree as being like a temporary house plant.

Cute Christmas Tree

A pot grown tree is an eco friendly alternative to an artificial tree.

Bringing your pot grown tree inside

The most important thing to bear in mind with pot-grown trees is that they don't like being kept inside for too long. The weekend before Christmas is the perfect time to move them into position. Most will put up with being indoors for up to 2 weeks before being moved back outside. This means they aren't ideal for people who like their tree up from 1st December, but they are a great choice for those with busy lives. Your tree is already in the garden and simply needs to be brought in whenever you're ready.

Before moving your tree, give it a bit of a shake to dislodge any insects, webs and debris that might be lurking in the branches. Ensure the pot has plenty of drainage holes, and place a saucer or decorative out pot beneath it to catch runoff water.

Decorating a Christmas Tree

Follow our tips to keep your pot grown Christmas tree looking its best.

Placing the tree

Presumably, you'll have picked out the perfect spot for your tree before bringing it inside. When choosing where to put your Christmas tree ensure the following:

  • You can easily access the pot for watering.

  • It's near a power socket for the lights.

  • The tree is far enough away from heat sources, such as radiators.

Avoid putting the tree in a shaded corner of the room. Choose a bright spot with plenty of natural sunlight to keep your tree happy.

Christmas Tree in Sunny place

 The best Christmas tree spot is bright, away from heat and easy to access.


As with freshly cut trees, pot-grown trees require frequent watering to stay healthy. Check the soil daily to make sure it's slightly damp, and water whenever the top layer of the soil starts to feel dry. As mentioned, make sure any excess water can drain away well, as you don't want to end up with root rot from waterlogged soil.

Water the root ball rather than the foliage. This will help the tree take up the moisture where it's most needed. Add a slow-release plant feed to give your tree an extra boost while it's indoors.

Dark and Moody Christmas Tree Close Up

Water your pot grown tree when the outer layer of soil begins to feel dry.

After Christmas

Once the festivities are over, you can move your tree into the garden or patio for the rest of the year.

If you plan to keep the tree in the pot ready to be brought back inside next Christmas, it's best to find a sheltered spot where your tree will be out of high winds. Be sure to water your tree regularly, especially during dry spells. Potted trees dry out faster than those planted in the ground, so you'll need to keep an eye on how much water it's getting.

Potted conifers look great next to the front door, and the porch will offer a bit of shelter.

Alternatively, you can plant your tree out in the garden. The advantages of this are that it will grow faster and require less care throughout the year as it will be able to absorb moisture from the ground. However, if you're planning to bring your tree inside again next Christmas, you'll need to dig it up and repot it. The larger the tree becomes, the more difficult this will be.

Family in Christmas Tree Farm 2

Pot grown fresh trees have the root ball intact and can be kept outside for next Christmas.

Caring for real Christmas trees

For most of us, the tree forms the Christmas centrepiece in the home, so of course, we want it to last at least until the big day. A properly maintained Christmas tree has the best chance of making it into the new year.

Looking after your tree well is the difference between coming down to a limp brown tree and a full, bushy green tree on Christmas Day.

Caring for your real Christmas tree isn't too difficult and most of it is simple common sense:

  • Water it regularly

  • Don't position it next to the fire

  • Place it somewhere pets and small children won't accidentally bump it

Christmas Tree with golden bauble

Look after your tree properly and it'll last the whole holiday season.

There's nothing quite like the look and smell of a real Christmas tree and, in our opinion, it's certainly worth the effort. With a little TLC, you can sit back and admire the Christmas tree lights twinkling on lush green needles with an unmistakably natural festive fragrance that will help make your Christmas magical.

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