Christmas Tree Purchase & Care Guide

It may be a little out of season but here is a quick guide to help you with that all important Christmas purchase. Of course you could be reading this in the Fall, in which case it is totally in season.

Christmas is always a joyous time shared with family and friends. It is a time of love and festivities and for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Thus, choosing an appropriate Christmas tree has become something of a family pilgrimage for some people. Of course you can always buy a tree online but hunting one down with the kids is a great family day out and a bonding experience in true Christmas spirit.

The problem is that very few of us know how to select the right tree. So here I give you some tips for getting the best tree that will not only look great and shed less pines but will last you throughout the festive season.

Another problem encountered by adventurous souls new to real Christmas trees is the care needed to keep them looking good after purchase or the type of care that can actually enhance the beauty of the tree.

Christmas tree decoratingChristmas Tree Selection

If you are looking for a Christmas tree to buy, there are multiple varieties of trees from which you can choose.

The most popular Christmas trees in the United States tend to be the Scots pine, the Douglas fir, white pine, and balsam fir. These trees offer the more traditional Christmas tree look due to their pine needle look.

It is the needle type of tree that gives that Christmas tree look so these are the types of trees you should be considering.

small Christmas treeHowever, before you make a selection, you must know where the tree will be placed in your home.

This is a consideration that many people fail to address before they buy a tree and they end up with a product that is either too small, too large, too bulky or too slim looking. In other words they wend up with a Christmas tree that is ill-suited to their home environment.

This is an important point missed by more people than you may imagine. Be sure to measure the space where your tree will sit so you can make a more informed choice of tree based upon foliage, width and the height of the tree to choose.

Factors to consider before you make a final selection

The tree’s overall health

Does the tree of your choice appear moist and green? Look for signs of aging such as a loss of pine needles or a browning effect occurring. No one would like buying a tree that was cut too early.

Use the sniff test

Smell the tree to make sure it still has a fresh fragrant aroma. A freshly cut Christmas tree have a scent that will tell you that it is freshly cut – a bit like freshly cut grass.


A tree should stay reasonably fresh for several weeks after it has been cut.

You can help the tree stay fresh by supplying with plenty of water making sure you do not get water on the electric lights!

You should therefore consider using outdoor Christmas tree lights which are waterproof. However, you still need to be careful not to get water on or near the electrical outlets!

Also ensure it is not overly exposed to heat or dry air.

Tip 1:

When you go to buy a tree you can easily check how long it has been sitting in the yard i.e. how long since the tree was felled.

If you run a gloved hand down the tree branches lightly pulling them towards you and the needles start to fall off it indicates that the tree has not been freshly cut.

Tip 2:

Christmas tree needle lossBefore you buy there is also one more simple check that you can do to see how fresh the tree is.

Ensure that the tree is lifted a few inches from the ground, turned it upside down and observe if there is excessive needle drop.

Again, needles should not fall off the tree if it has been freshly cut. There will be some needle loss but if the loss looks excessive then you know the tree is not fresh and will probably not last throughout the Christmas season.

Caring For Your Christmas Tree

Once you have chosen your tree your work is not over. You still need to care for it.

This is one of the biggest drawbacks of using a real Christmas tree as opposed to an artificial one (which requires no care at all).

Re-potting the tree for replanting

Some people buy a tree in the hopes that they can replant it and re-use it again the next year (or at least continue to enjoy it in their garden). Although it is possible to replant a Christmas tree in most cases the tree will not survive.

This is especially true because when you go to replant the tree it will no longer be fresh as you will have been using it for several weeks. The only way around this is to pot the tree in a compost container from the outset.

If you want to keep your Christmas tree potted, to keep it fresh and for possible replanting then a Norfolk Island pine (or similar tree) should be purchased and potted immediately in the appropriate soil.

Prepare the tree for indoor use

potting soilOnce your tree has been purchased it should be put in a cool place, such as a garage, and prepared for indoor use. You do this by make a few cuts at the bottom of the trunk so the tree can absorb water and emerge the stem in a pot of fresh water.

Watering your tree is vital to keep it looking good during the Christmas period. You must always keep the pot topped up with a supply of fresh water. A newly cut tree can absorb as much as 1 gallon of water over a 24 hour period.

I must stress again the importance of being careful that you do not get the water any where near the electrical components of your Christmas tree decorations. Everyone knows that water and electric do not mix well.

You may wish to add a small amount of plant food solution in with the water to help keep the tree looking healthy though if you have chosen a good potting mix this will not be necessary.

If possible keep your tree in a cool place in your house, such as a hallway or entrance near your front door. At the very least keep it away from radiators, heat ducts or other sources of heat and arid air.

If you use waterproof outdoor lights then you can lightly spray the needles every few days ensuring the electrical sockets and plugs are well out of reach of the water spray. Do not do this if you are using indoor lights.

Tree Disposal

After Christmas most people simply leave their old trees for the garbage collectors or toss them onto a compost site to decompose naturally.

However, there are more creative uses for it.

Here are some great ideas for making good use of your Christmas after Christmas has past:

pine scented cushionScented decorations

Strip the branches of their remaining pine needles and place into small bowls to act as potpourri.

Make ornaments

If you are feeling a little more creative why not stuff the pine needles into small pillow cases or similar for decorative nice-smelling ornaments.

Closet scents

Place similar fragranced fabrics into draws or closets to keep them smelling fresh.

Likewise, you can actually use the entire tree as a natural air freshener.

yule log fire from christmas treeYule logs

Simply cut up the tree trunk into small pieces and burn it like yule logs.

This will scent the house with the smell of fresh pine.

Bird nest

Use the old tree as a staging area to hang your bird feed.

We hope this simply guide has been helpful and that you enjoy your Christmas and that it helps you chose the right tree for you but perhaps you should consider growing your own.

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