Finding Right Tree Helps to Make Season Bright

— Written By and last updated by Diane Lynch

Q: What do I need to consider when selecting a Christmas tree?

A: As we are quickly approaching the holiday season, many will take on the task of finding a Christmas tree. If you are one that goes for getting a fresh tree, then you will be on a search for the “perfect Christmas tree.” Whether you select one from the many lots in the area or actually travel to a Christmas tree farm, there are some things to consider when picking out a fresh Christmas tree to help it look great throughout the holiday season.

Before going out to buy a tree, determine where in the home you will be putting the tree so you have an idea of the tree size needed. This will prevent you getting home with a tree that is too big and then having to cut off some of the bottom to make it fit. A good rule of thumb when deciding the size of tree needed is to select one that is at least one foot shorter than the ceiling height.

An important step in selecting a Christmas tree is to consider the freshness of the tree. Check on things like when the tree was cut and the distance shipped. The more recent it was cut and the shorter distance traveled will mean that you can put it in water closer to the time it was cut.

There are a few ways to check the freshness of a tree. One way is to shake or bounce the tree and look at the needles that fall off. If green needles fall to the ground, then select another tree. It is okay for older, brown needles to fall but not young, green needles. Another freshness test is to rub your hand through a few branches. Needles should not easily come off the branches and should not feel brittle. Besides freshness, you want to also look for one with good color, density, and no apparent damage. Be sure to inspect the trunk of the tree and avoid ones with split trunks. Trees with splits in the trunk will not take up much water and will dry out very quickly.

Once that perfect tree has been picked out and brought home, there are things to do to keep the tree looking well through out the holiday season. If it will be a few days before you set up and decorate the tree, it should be stored outside in a cool, shaded area. Just before placing the tree in the tree stand, saw the base about one inch above the original cut. The base of the tree should be kept in water throughout the entire period that the tree is in use. Check the water level in the tree stand daily. The tree should be placed in a location away from sources of heat, like vents, fireplaces and woodstoves, which would dry out the tree more quickly.

By checking for freshness and quality of a Christmas tree before purchasing and providing proper care once it has been brought home, you can have a fresh Christmas tree to enjoy throughout the holiday season.

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Jessica Strickland
Extension Agent
North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Wayne County Center
P. O. Box 68
Goldsboro, NC 27533
Phone: 919-731-1520
Fax: 919-731-1511

Written By

Photo of Jessica StricklandJessica StricklandExtension Agent, Agriculture - Horticulture (919) 731-1521 (Office) jessica_strickland@ncsu.eduWayne County, North Carolina
Posted on Dec 4, 2013
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