9 of the best real Christmas trees and where to buy them

Telegraph Reporters
Man carrying a Christmas tree on a bike

Non-drop needles or not, all cut Christmas trees die sooner or later. Come January they're either in a sorry, naked state at the bottom of the garden with most of the needles somewhere in your lounge. 

The traditional cut Christmas tree in Britain has been the Norway spruce for many years (Picea abies), which has short, bright green, pointed needles that drop quickly. In recent years, however, sales of “non-drop” varieties, such as the conical Nordman fir (Abies nordmanniana); Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) which has soft, wide and flat dark green needles; and blue spruce (Picea pungens), with glaucous or silver-blue foliage, have overtaken the Norway spruce.

Provided care is taken in looking after the tree it should survive for more than four weeks, according to the British Christmas Tree Growers Association. Here's our guide to all the different types of cut tree - and tips on how to make yours last. 

1. Norway spruce 

The Norway Spruce Christmas tree is quite spiky Credit: Andrew Crowley

This is the traditional British Christmas tree which has been popular since Victorian times and grows naturally in this country. 

The bright green, bushy Norway Spruce has a lovely Christmassy scent, but quickly drops its dense, spiky needles so it's not great for young children and can be quite high maintenance. If you're keen on this variety, wait until later in December, make sure you water it regularly and try to keep it away from radiators. A good-value outdoor option.

Buy yours from Tree Shop, Ashridge Nurseries or Trees to Plants

2. Nordmann Fir

Nordmann fir Christmas tree is great for symmetry Credit: British Christmas Tree Growers Association

Increasingly popular in Britain, the Nordmann fir is now Britain's biggest selling Christmas tree. It's slightly more expensive than a Norway spruce and has little fragrance however, it's tough and crucially retains its needles for longer.

The trees, which were originally found in south Russia, have a reliably symmetrical shape with a wide base and dark green, broad needles. The foliage is soft and glossy, which make it child-friendly. A good low-maintenance indoor option and great for larger decorations and baubles because of its branching patterns which really show them off.

Buy yours from Wyvale Garden CentresSend Me A Christmas Tree, Pines and Needles, King & Co or Paramount Plants

3. Blue spruce 

Striking: Blue Spruce Christmas tree Credit: Andrew Crowley

The needles of this tree have a lovely silver-blue tinge, which makes it a popular option, although they are rather prickly. The tree holds its needles well and they generally have a good symmetrical form. 

Buy yours from Jackson's Nurseries or Ornamental Trees 

4. Fraser fir 

Presidential: Fraser fir Christmas tree Credit:  Getty Images/ Brendan Hoffman

It's not dissimilar in shape to the Norway spruce, but popular American fir the Fraser doesn't drop its needles as quickly. It also has a more narrow base - making it ideal for tight spaces. It's now the best selling Christmas tree in the US, and also has a lovely, aromatic fragrance. The Obama family are pictured taking delivery one for the White House in 2012. 

Buy yours from Hayes Garden World or Scottish Christmas Trees

5. Serbian spruce 

Similar to the Norway spruce, but with slightly better needle retention. These trees have an attractive blue underside to the needles and have a lovely slender shape making them suited to smaller homes or corridors. They're increasingly popular in central Europe and look great with simpler decorations or just a string of pretty lights. Best to buy this tree in mid-late December to reduce the amount of needle drop.

Buy yours from John Lewis or B&Q

6. Douglas fir 

Very popular in the US since the 1920s, the Douglas fir has soft, dark green or blue green needles. The tree is popular for its good needle retention and a lovely citrus fragrance. It's a statement tree and they can grow extremely large.

Buy yours from the Tree Shop or Trees Online

7. Lodgepole pine

Strong: Lodgepole pine Christmas tree Credit:  Andrew Crowley

Native to the US, this tree's straight stems were supposedly once used by Native Americans as the central pole for their wigwams. It's a bushy tree with yellowy-green needles and is very good for needle retention.

Buy yours from Alba Trees or Needlefresh UK

8. Noble fir

Grey-green: Noble fir Christmas tree Credit: Daily Telegraph

This fir has attractive grey-green needles that tilt upwards and very strong branches, so is a good choice for hanging heavy decorations on. They are native of the forests of Washington and Oregon and were introduced into Britain in 1830. They're hard to find in the UK and more expensive, although their needle retention is among the best. 

Buy yours from Barcham Tree Specialists

9. Scots pine 

Credit: Eden Christmas Trees

Sightly less common, the Scots pine (Scotland's national tree) is a native tree with bright, blue-green foliage and a lovely fragrance. The needles are quite sharp, but they have excellent retention - even when dry. The branches are known for being strong if you're planning on lots of decorations.

Buy yours from Beecham Nurseries or Eden Christmas Trees 

How to make your real Christmas tree last

  • Keep it outside or in a cool place for as long as possible before moving it inside.
  • When you're ready to decorate it, chop a couple of centimetres off the stump and put it in water straightaway.
  • Water it every day - they drink lots - and try to position it away from radiators and open fires. Christmas trees don't like heat.
  • Always turn your Christmas tree lights off before watering and going to bed.

Where can I buy real Christmas trees?

These suppliers are a good place to start:

Not sure if a cut Christmas tree is for you? You might find our guide to the best artificial Christmas trees useful.

For more Christmas features and gift guides, see www.telegraph.co.uk/christmas