We talk to horticultural guru, Lori Laing, on how to pick the perfect Christmas tree this winter…
If you don't know your Norway Spruce from your Nordmaan Fir, then don't panic, because we've teamed up with Lori Laing and Aldi to give you our step-by-step guide on how to pick the best tree, when you should buy it and a few care tips to make sure it lasts until the big day!
Lori Laing's guide to keeping your Christmas tree merry and bright…
I often get asked around this time of the year how best to look after your tree to make sure it’s still looking lovely on Christmas Day. To start, you want to make sure you’re picking the best tree. I’d go for Nordmann Fir, hailing from the mountains by the Black Sea, this plump tree for me is the perfect shape and drops fewest needles.
Essential tree buying advice:
- Go early. I'm not saying turn up in October, but start thinking about it at the end of November when trees are up for sale. Broadly speaking, most pre-cut trees will have been cut at the same time so you’re better getting in early and having first pick from the selection. You can keep it outdoors in a bucket of water until you need it.
- Give the tree a gentle shake or tap on the ground, if lots of needles drop from the tree then pick another. You want to go for one which isn’t losing its needles to begin with, otherwise you’re likely to end up with a naked tree by Christmas day!
- Take a look at the tree properly, even if it has already been netted up. You want a tree that has dark green needles and that feel waxy to touch, if it isn’t glossy then pick another.
- Buy from somewhere trusted! Not all trees are the same, look at reviews online before you try somewhere new. I have got two trees this year; one from a local grower and one from Aldi. My local grower is pricey, but I have got a tree from them for the past few years so know it will be fresh and good quality. Aldi trees are a great quality and a fraction of the cost (£17.99 for a medium tree – the same tree straight from my local grower would set me back £40+!), grown in Aberdeen and cut at the last minute before they hit stores for ultimate freshness. Aldi trees will be in store from 2nd December.
How to prepare a picture perfect tree:
- Cut off 1-inch from the base with a saw. Just like when you get flowers home, you need to trim the base of the stump to improve its ability to take up water which is crucial for a long lasting tree. Make sure you do this before you take the netting off to make it easier. I eagerly ripped off the netting first and it made this task much trickier!
- Unwrap it as soon as possible. The netting on the tree can not only damage the branches, but it will also cause the tree to warm up, which in turn will speed up needle loss.
- Soak the tree base in a bucket of water overnight and keep it outside in a sheltered spot. When you’re ready to bring it in, lightly tap it on the ground to allow for any loose needles to drop off.
- When you are ready to put it in a stand, make sure it’s one that holds water. You might need to cut a branch or two off the bottom so it fits snugly into the stand, but you should be fine. If you do need to take some off, make sure you keep them to make a homemade wreath with or to use as decoration through the house!
Finding the right spot:
- Try and find a spot which has a steady temperature, so not in front of a hot radiator or cold draughty door. If you’re placing your tree by a window, try and make sure it is North facing if you can. Bright sunlight, hot radiators or cold draughts can all shorten your trees life and make it look dull and tired.
- Place your tree in a stand that holds water. Your tree is thirsty and will need topping up with fresh water every couple of days or so, you’ll be surprised by how much the tree will drink. Ensuring there’s enough water will keep the needles from falling off your tree and saves you from lots of hoovering.
- Decorate your tree smartly. Use LED lights, they not only save you energy but they don’t heat up as much either, which is better for the tree. Make sure you turn these off when you go out or go to bed too, as the little lights can heat up quickly and will scorch the tree. Finally, hang your heaviest baubles first on the largest branches, then finish off with your daintier decorations, this will stop the tree from drooping and looking tired.
Now it's time to sit back, pop on the carols and enjoy a steaming mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate. Merry Christmas!