Buy a tree that’s had the netting removed for display >> that way you can see the shape and be confident the tree has been looked after. Trees left in netting, in the warm climate of a garden centre for example, are more prone to needle drop, which and can shorten their life.
The colour of the needles should be a dark green colour >> (rather than pale and washed out) and should feel waxy to the touch, not dry. I recommend gently stroking the tree to see if any needles come off easily. If they do, keep looking.
If you’re really concerned about needle-dropping >> go for a Nordman Fir, which is known to retain its needles. Some garden centres offer a no-needle drop guarantee on these types of tree.
Keep your tree fresher for longer >>by chopping or sawing a few centimetres off the bottom and soaking it in a bucket of water outside, either overnight or for as long as possible, before bringing it inside.
Once you’ve brought your tree inside >> make sure you fill the stand with water to continue to feed the needles.
Keep your tree away from direct sunlight >> draughts and heat from radiators and fireplaces to avoid drying it out, which will shorten its life. Ideally, try to use LED tree lights which emit less heat. They’re also better for the environment.
David Mitchell is a tree expert at Wyevale Garden Centres with branches in Gosforth, Morpeth and Stockton.