GARDENING: A good Christmas tree won’t give you any needle

Just a few of the many excellent Christmas trees now available.
Just a few of the many excellent Christmas trees now available.
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A REAL tree or an artificial one? It’s an argument that’s gone on in our house for many years.

The other half doesn’t want the bother of the needles, putting it up and disposing of its corpse.

On the other hand, I think it is one of the integral parts of the festive season, and one of the only incentives I have to clean in the year.

A live tree’s reputation of dropping needles comes from two main sources: the only trees you used to get were Picea abies (Norway spruce), which do drop.

This was made much worse by trees not being watered.

Think of a Christmas tree as a huge vase of flowers ­you wouldn’t leave that without water, would you?

If you decide on a live cut tree (without roots), the bestselling “non­drop” tree is the Nordmann fir.

The blue spruce has an attractive colour, and holds its needles well.

The Douglas fir can cost more than others, while the balsam fir holds its needles even as its branches dry out.

When picking a tree, make sure it seems healthy and relatively free of brown needles.

Cut an inch or so off the bottom of the trunk to ensure the tree will absorb water in its stand.

This should be done less than an hour before putting the tree in the stand.

Check regularly to make sure the tree has enough water.

Do not put the tree near a window, fireplace, radiator, stove or other source of heat, as this will increase the chance of the tree rapidly drying out.