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December 4, 2023

Christmas Tree Selection And Care Tips

We hope that you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Now as we focus on Christmas, Christmas tree lots are popping up all around town. To help you select the freshest, most attractive tree possible, and to care for it to prolong its beauty through the season, I offer the following tips.

When shopping for your live, cut Christmas tree…

• Check the shape from all directions. Be sure there are no bare spots and that the tree is conical in shape. Flat spots indicate that they were planted too close together in the field.

• Run your hand across some of the branches. A handful of needles will indicate that the tree was cut too early and you are apt to have a Charlie Brown tree by Christmas.

• If running your hand across the needles is too rough on your skin, bend a few needles. They should bounce back. If they break, the tree was cut too early.

• Tap the base of the tree on the ground. A “puddle” of needles on the ground indicates an old tree.

When you get the perfect tree home, cut a quarter inch off the bottom and immediately put it in a bucket of water. Use a hand saw not a chain saw. The heat generated by the chain saw will “cauterize” the vessels that take up water, defeating the purpose of cutting a piece off the base.

Keep the tree in the garage at least overnight so it gets acclimated to warmer temperatures. I suggest that you not take it inside until you’re ready to put it up. It’ll do better in the cooler temperature of the garage.

When you do take the tree inside and put it up, be sure there’s always plenty of water in the stand tray. If your tree is already set up, check the water level and keep the tray full for as long as the tree is inside.

If you opt for a potted or balled and burlap tree, check for freshness by checking the color of the needles to be sure they’re dark green. Bend a few needles to make sure they bounce back and check the soil in the pot or root ball to make sure it’s moist.

Dig a hole now, before the ground freezes, if you opted for a potted tree or balled and burlap tree. You should cover the backfill with a tarp to keep it from freezing. Cover the hole with a piece of plywood or other protection to keep people from falling in the hole. Keeping a live tree in the house for more than a week isn’t advised. And, you should plant it as soon as you remove it from the house. It’s also a good idea to spray the tree with an anti-desiccant after planting.

I hope you’ll enjoy your “real” tree. Christmas tree growers are farmers who use sustainable techniques to assure that we have plenty of trees each Christmas.

Finally, recycling your tree after Christmas closes the circle of life by creating mulch to help other plants grow. Take it to one of the many recycling stations around the area to have it ground.