Time is running out to buy a real Christmas tree. Your timing is good for the tree, however, because, by Christmas Day, a tree that has stood out in the cold for awhile will be better preserved than one in your warm house since Thanksgiving.
When you go shopping for a cut Christmas tree, here are a few ways to be sure you get the freshest, most attractive tree possible:
• 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. Don’t take it inside until you are 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 have a live, potted tree, dig a hole for it now, before the ground is frozen and 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 recommended. 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.
Here’s to a safe and happy holiday season!
If you have a living Christmas tree, it important to know what it is before planting it! As an arborist, I often see big Italian stone pines and Canary Island pines planted too close to homes!