12 best real Christmas trees for turning your home into a festive delight

·11-min read
Try to place your tree away from heat sources such as radiators, as these can dry out your tree and shorten its lifespan (iStock/The Independent)
Try to place your tree away from heat sources such as radiators, as these can dry out your tree and shorten its lifespan (iStock/The Independent)

Christmas is just around the corner and it’s time to order the tree, which is why we’ve come to the rescue with a guide to the best real Christmas trees available. Whether you’re after one of the pint-sized ones that are becoming increasingly popular, or the growing range of options on sale at the UK’s biggest supermarkets, we’ve found something to suit all.

But first, a quick guide to tree care. If your tree is freshly cut (in other words, it’s not a potted or rooted tree that can be replanted), it will probably be in desperate need of a drink when it arrives in your home. But don’t just stick it in water – ideally, you’ll cut an inch or two off the base of the trunk in order to aid its water absorption. This is important because the tree’s sap will have created a kind of seal after it was initially cut down, which makes it harder for the trunk to soak up water.

The tree should be placed in water as soon as possible, even if you’re not yet putting it on display. When you do, opt for a tree stand that has a water reservoir, and top the reservoir up daily – you’ll be surprised at how quickly water levels drop, especially in warmer homes.

Try to place your tree away from heat sources such as radiators, as these can dry out your tree and shorten its lifespan. If possible, place the tree away from southern-facing windows, which will expose your tree to the strongest sunlight.

How we tested

First things first: we’re huge fans of Christmas, which means we can tell a good Christmas tree from a bad one by scent alone. Well, almost, but you get the point. As testers who pride themselves on seeking out the shapeliest, healthiest and lushest Christmas trees, we’ve gained a deep appreciation of everything from needle retention and branch thickness to trunk length and profile, all of which matters when it comes to Christmas tree criteria.

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We considered a wide range of factors when it came to assessing our trees, whether it was the ease of the ordering and delivery process, the health of the tree or any nods to sustainability. The trees below are the best of the bunch, now you just need to work out which one’s for you.

The best real Christmas trees for 2021 are:

  • Best overall - Croft & Cole fresh cut Christmas tree: From £64, Croftandcole.com

  • Best for packaging - Beards and Daisies Northern Lights Christmas tree set: £30, Beardsanddaisies.co.uk

  • Best for availability - Tesco Nordmann Fir: £20, Tesco (in-store)

  • Best for customer services - Christmas Trees Korean Fir: From £77.99, Christmastrees.co.uk

  • Best for sustainability - The Stem Nordmann Fir Christmas tree: From £50, Thestem.co.uk

  • Best for potted perfection - Pines and Needles five-foot pot grown Fraser fir: £79.95, Pinesandneedles.com

  • Best for bushiness - Pines and Needles five-foot Norway Spruce: from £45.95, Pinesandneedles.com

  • Best for decorations - Bloom and Wild Creative crafts tree: £39, Bloomandwild.com

  • Best for the perfect profile - Croft & Cole Potted Christmas tree: £99, Croftandcole.com

  • Best for value - Aldi Nordmann Fir: £24.99, Aldi.co.uk

  • Best for Londoners - Fantastic Services Christmas tree: From £64, Fantasticservices.com

  • Best for healthiness - B&Q 180-210cm Nordmann fir: £39, Diy.com

Croft & Cole fresh cut christmas tree

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

It was love at first sight with this tree, which was wonderfully bushy and well balanced, and in excellent condition on arrival. Croft & Cole claim to seek out only the finest Nordmann firs grown in the UK, and that there are multiple quality checks prior to dispatch.

It’s a claim which is easy to make, but given the lush appearance of our tree, it’s clearly more than just spin – unlike some of the trees, which arrived desperately in need of water, this one had clearly been given some serious TLC before it turned up on our doorstep.

We also love the options for customisation. It was easy to add extras such as wreaths to our order and there’s also a wide range of sizes to choose from too. There’s also multitude of delivery options, which didn’t just include named day delivery but contact-free and so-called safe space delivery.

Buy now £64.00, Croftandcole.com

Beards and Daisies northern lights christmas tree set

Best: For packaging

Rating: 9/10

We were instantly smitten with this miniature potted tree – a Picea conica (a hardy, evergreen dwarf shrub) which came with a Santa’s sack-worthy supply of decorations, including a beautiful star topper and battery-powered fairy lights. There was no chance of transit-related damage, either – the tree, which had clearly been well watered prior to its dispatch, came in a box that had the word “fragile” slapped all over it, and it was swaddled in a roll of padded cardboard. We loved the fact that the decorations were made from sustainably sourced paper, too. The trees, which can be replanted, range in size from 40-50cm.

Buy now £30.00, Beardsanddaisies.co.uk

Tesco Nordmann fir

Best: For availability

Rating: 8/10

A perfect profile and impressive needle retention – even for a Nordmann fir, which are known for this particular quality – meant this tree, which had a light scent and came in a festive red pot, was an instant hit. It’s another tree which has clearly been well watered and cared for, and we love the consistent bushiness. Our tree had less taper but a slightly wider-than-average profile, with a top-to-bottom branch thickness which meant plenty of room for all our ornaments. It’s available to buy in-store and is brilliant value, too.

Buy now £20.00, Tesco.com

Christmastrees.co.uk korean fir

Best: For customer services

Rating: 9/10

For something a little different, we recommend this beautiful Scottish Borders-grown Korean fir, with its dusky purple cones and perfect profile – a wide, thick base that tapers to a narrow tip. The branches were sturdy enough to deal with the ornamental overload we inflicted on this particular tree. While its smaller size – Korean firs are generally shorter than Nordmanns – makes it a brilliant option if you’re looking for either a second tree or searching for one to display in rooms with low ceilings. We also loved the tree’s subtle fragrance and the brilliant needle retention, which makes it ideal for homes with pets or children.

Buy now £77.99, Christmastrees.co.uk

The Stem nordmann fir christmas tree

Best: For sustainability

Rating: 8/10

Full disclosure: currently, The Stem only delivers trees to addresses within the M25, although there are plans to roll out nationwide delivery in time for next winter. It’s a seriously sustainable enterprise – the trees, which are available in three sizes, are delivered via electric van, and 10 trees are planted for each one sold.

As testers with certain needle drop-related issues (all we’ll say is that this stems from a particularly painful incident involving a Nordmann needle and a toe), we loved the fantastic needle retention, as well as the consistent bushiness. The Nordmann fir isn’t always the most tapered of trees, but if you’re a fan of the “less is more” approach when it comes to decorating, this tree is for you.

Buy now £50.00, Thestem.co.uk

Pines and Needles five-foot pot grown fraser fir

Best: For potted perfection

Rating: 8/10

We’re firm believers that Christmas trees aren’t just for Christmas, which is why we’re huge fans of pot-grown trees. Pines and Needles’ trees are all grown in Scotland, and our beautiful Fraser Fir had lush, thick needles and a bushy profile with that all-important feature – an ultra-rigid central stalk which effortlessly supported our supersized tree topper. We kept things simple by ordering just the tree, but we loved the wide range of options which could easily be added – we could have requested installation and decorating services, and even specified the room we wanted it delivered to.

Buy now £79.95, Pinesandneedles.com

Pines and Needles five-foot Norway spruce

Best: For bushiness

Rating: 9/10

This beautiful tree made us wonder why we’ve spent so much of our hard-earned cash on pine-scented candles – our tree smelled fantastic, and its scent quickly filled our front room with a seasonal, forest-fresh aroma. We loved its wonderful thickness, which made it easy to decorate – the sturdy branches were thick enough to hold some rather chunky tree decorations, while the depth of the foliage did a great job of keeping our endless lengths of tinsel firmly in place. Adding accessories such as tree stands and fairy lights (all of which were brilliant value) was a breeze, too.

Buy now £45.95, Pinesandneedles.com

Bloom and Wild creative crafts tree

Best: For decorations

Rating: 9/10

This pint-sized tree came with a huge number of decorations, although adorning our tree with them wasn’t a problem, thanks to its bushy profile and study branches. It also came with lights, and the pretty, hessian-like pot had its own decorations – a string of pink, furry pom-poms. Chunks of turf-like material didn’t just ramp up the greenery, but minimised the risk of soil-related spillages and absorbed excess water, too. We’d recommend this for smaller homes as well as for gifting – and we also loved the fact that there’s a range of (free) gift cards to choose from.

Buy now £39.00, Bloomandwild.com

Croft & Cole potted christmas tree

Best: For the perfect profile

Rating: 9/10

Our well-watered Nordmann Fir, which came in a sturdy plastic pot, had clearly been well cared for prior to its arrival and we loved the profile – a fat, wide base tapering to a narrower tip. Croft & Cole’s potted trees come in one size – between 4ft and 5ft tall – and they’re all grown on UK plantations carefully vetted by owners Rebecca and Thomas. We loved the wealth of information relating to the care of our tree, which – when replanted – will apparently grow up to one foot per year.

Buy now £99.00, Croftandcole.com

Aldi Nordmann Fir

Best: For value

Rating: 8/10

Our large Nordmann Fir, grown on a sustainably managed Scottish tree plantation, cost just £24.99 and had a wonderful A-line shape and thick, plump needles covering the entirety of every branch. We opted for one of the large trees, which measure between 190 and 210cm, although medium and potted versions are available, too.

We were especially keen on the stately central stalk, which was the perfect thickness to support our tree topper. In fact, it was so tall we had to snip off a couple of inches, so it might be worth doing some measurements first if you’ve got low ceilings.

Buy now £24.99, Aldi.co.uk

Fantastic Services Christmas tree

Best: For Londoners

Rating: 8/10

We’ll kick things off by getting our biggest gripe out the way: our pot-grown Norwegian spruce was desperately in need of water by the time it arrived on our doorstep. Luckily, after 24 hours of tender loving care, it bounced back to robust health.

The tree had a beautiful profile and a fabulousness bushiness, although two downsides are the lack of transparency – we weren’t able to confirm the tree’s origins, only that it was grown in England, Scotland or Denmark – and the fact that Fantastic Services currently only deliver to addresses within the M25. That said, if you live in this area it’s a great option – despite the initial dehydration issue, the tree was healthy and lush, and Fantastic Services offers decoration services, too.

Buy now £64.00, Fantasticservices.com

B&Q 180-210cm nordmann fir cut christmas tree

Best: For healthiness

Rating: 9/10

We loved the long trunk on our Nordmann Fir, which sounds like an odd thing to get excited about, but so many trees have been sliced off incredibly close to the lower branches, making it harder to insert the tree into a pot, and for it to absorb the water it needs initially. This is another tree which can be easily ordered alongside various accessories (we were seriously tempted by the barrel-shaped tree skirt) and we were pleased to see that the tree was in fantastic health on arrival.

Retailers like B&Q must shift thousands – if not millions – of trees every year, and in our experience the bigger retailers often drop the ball when it comes to pre-delivery tree care, but this certainly wasn’t the case with our festive fir.

Buy now £39.00, Diy.com

The verdict: Real Christmas trees

Croft & Cole bag the top spot simply because of the ease of ordering, the health of the tree and its profile, which was absolutely perfect. Beards and Daisies’ northern lights Christmas tree set was a brilliant, giftable option that came with a generous supply of fantastic decorations, and Tesco’s Nordmann fir proved that trees from high street chains can be just as good as those from smaller boutique suppliers.

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