The perfect Christmas tree
Simple tips for selecting and caring for your choice
November 27, 2003
By Janet Russell
Victoria County Master Gardener
For many families, selecting a Christmas tree is an annual tradition. Bringing home the tree signals the official start of the holiday season. Proper selection of a tree will help make the season even more enjoyable. In today's market, healthy, fresh, fragrant and affordable Christmas trees are abundant and available to anyone who wishes to have a real tree. A few simple care tips will help you select and then keep your cut Christmas tree fresh and fragrant throughout the holiday season.
When buying a pre-cut tree, buy early for the best selection
and to ensure your tree receives proper care. Ask the retailer whether his
trees are delivered once at the beginning of the season or at different times
during the selling season. I checked with the owner of a local nursery, and his
trees are received in three separate shipments. The Christmas trees come from
The freshest trees should have a healthy deep green color. To test for freshness gently grasp a branch between your forefingers and pull it toward you. Very few needles should come off in your hand. Shake or bounce the tree on its stump. You should not see an excessive amount of green needles fall to the ground. Some loss of interior brown needles is normal. The base of the tree should be straight and 6-8 inches long so it will fit easily into the stand. Remember, when you bring the tree home you will need to cut 1 or 2 inches off the base of the trunk. Stand the tree in a pail of water and keep it out of the sun and wind until you are ready to decorate.
Water is the most important ingredient for keeping your tree
green. Remember, trees are very thirsty. Many people have concocted mixtures
for watering their Christmas trees. The National Christmas Tree Association
reports that Dr. Gary Chastagner, a researcher at
When you bring the tree home, put tap water in your stand and check it twice a day. Your stand should hold at least 1 quart of water - and a 1-gallon stand is even better. If the stand goes dry, the tree trunk will seal and will not be able to soak up water. If this happens, take a screwdriver and hammer and make a cut in the trunk down to the cambium so it can begin to soak water again.
I have always found it such a nuisance to water a Christmas tree once it's decorated with a tree skirt and surrounded by presents. Gene and Marine Anderson of Guse Hardware came up with a suggestion found in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. They suggested buying a funnel and a 3 to 4 foot length of vinyl tubing to slip over the funnel outlet. Fasten the funnel/tube with a twist-tie or twine in an out-of-the-way but reachable part of the tree. Extend the tubing down the tree trunk and into the reservoir. Now you can water the tree through the funnel without bending over or disturbing the tree skirt or its ornament. I am going to try this clever idea.
Heat can cause premature drying of your fresh Christmas tree. You need to locate your tree away from any heat source. Decorate with small lights, which give off little heat, or use a spotlight to showcase your collection of beautiful decorations. This will help your tree stay pretty and green. A local nurseryman suggested spraying the tree with a polymer coating that holds moisture in the needles. It is used on shrubs when transplanting. It comes in a spray bottle and does not leave a sticky residue. It is also good to use on fresh cut garland. Fresh cut trees, if properly cared for, will last at least five weeks before drying out.
If you have a desire to go out and cut down your own tree,
go to the Web site http://www.texaschristmastrees.com/
and you can find Christmas tree farms in Texas. I found locations listed near
You may also consider a living Christmas tree. A good tree
for this is a
To have a real Christmas tree is to "Buy
American." The National Christmas Tree Association reports that more than
32 million Christmas trees are sold each year. Nearly all of these trees are
grown on tree farms across the country. The total area of tree farms in the
With the proper selection and care, you can enjoy a fresh tree throughout the holiday season. I wish for you the perfect tree - and a very merry Christmas!