Selecting a fresh cut Christmas tree
Cutting and decorating the family Christmas tree is some of my best holiday memories. My family, living on a farm in the country, chose to cut a wild red cedar from the pasture. We would trek out looking for the perfect tree. Finally, we would find the so-called perfect tree for the house. Many families have these memories, as the tree is the centerpiece of holiday decorations.
Finding the perfect tree is sometimes an exhausting search. Here are a few tips to help you select a tree to make memories.
First, know your space. When looking at trees in wide-open spaces they all look smaller. Trees tend to grow in size once in the home. Know the height and width required for the space. In some cases those one-sided trees may be perfect if space is limited. They can be pushed closer to the wall or window, conserving space.
Choose a fresh tree. There are several tricks to help determine the freshness of cut trees. Bounce the tree on the ground. A fresh tree should drop few needles when bounced on a hard surface. If a lot of needles fall from the tree, this is a warning of what will happen in the home after a few days or weeks.
Freshness can also be determined from the feel of the needles. Run your fingers down the needles. They should feel moist and flexible. Next run your hand against the flow of the needles. They should also feel fresh and flexible when pulled back. Look for another tree if the needles feel dry or inflexible.
Once the perfect tree is selected keep it in water. Cut at least 1 inch from the base before setting up and place in water immediately. Water the tree with warm water to help keep the natural resins from plugging the vascular system of the tree. Initially the tree may drink a gallon or more of water a day, slowly decreasing its use. If the tree dries out, then no more water will be taken up, thus leading to a dry tree.
Avoid the sales pressure to buy tree preservative when you purchase your fresh cut Christmas tree. Studies show adding anything to the water, whether it’s a homemade “remedy” or a commercial product, HARMS fresh cut Christmas tree foliage. Sugar, fertilizer, or chemical contaminants in the water actually aggravate needle loss. So just use plain fresh water, and lots of it. (To read “An Evaluation of Christmas Tree Preservatives” click on the link http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/fletcher/programs/xmas/research/production/harvest/owen_preservatives.pdf)
Once you bring it indoors keep the tree away from warm drafts such as a heat vent or fireplace. Dry air will quickly dehydrate the tree shortening its life and increasing the chance of a fire.
Make selecting the Christmas tree a family affair. It will help create memories that will last a lifetime.