Follow these tips for choosing your Christmas tree

Johnny Morgan, Reed, Donald P.  |  1/4/2011 1:12:15 AM

News Release Distributed 12/02/10

The smell of a live Christmas tree has a way of making the season bright, but there are a few things you need to know before you make your choice, according to LSU AgCenter forestry specialist Don Reed.

As for price, the live trees that you go out to a tree farm and cut will cost more. Because most of the stores buy in bulk, they can afford to sell at a lower price, which is normally around $6 per foot.

When buying live trees from a garden nursery or from other stores, one of the first things Reed recommends is that you do the “freshness test.”

“I like to run the needles through my fingers, and if they start to come off in my hand, I know that’s not a fresh tree,” Reed said.

To ensure freshness, Reed said buying a live tree on the stump is the best option. You’ll know the tree is fresh, but there are a few other concerns that need to be addressed.

“The one mistake that many people make when buying from a Christmas tree farm is not having the measurements from their home,” Reed said. “Trees look a lot smaller outside than they will when you get one home.”

Reed says measure the height and the width of the area where the tree will be in the house to avoid having a tree that’s too big.

Once you get the tree home, then it must be cared for, which means watering regularly.

“You really need to make sure you get it in some water quickly,” Reed said. “Water, water and more water will keep your tree looking good throughout the holiday season.

"People don’t realize how much water these trees can take up, especially in the first 24 hours," Reed said. "People normally put the tree in a gallon or two of water and within about 24 hours, the tree has absorbed all of that water, and its sitting there out of the water."

When this happens, the tree builds a callus on the cut end of the trunk. So even when you put water back in its stand, the tree won’t take up the water, Reed said.

"I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping plenty of water in the stand," Reed said. "Even if you buy the tree and are not going to put it up for a day or two, go ahead and put it in a bucket of water. And keep water available for the tree as long as you have it up."

Barton Joffrion, area agent with the LSU AgCenter, provided additional tips for taking care of your tree this year:

– Locate the tree away from any heat source.

– Check wires and connections on all lights.

– Keep gift wrappings and other flammables away from direct contact with the tree.

– Only plug lights in if adults or responsible individuals are at home, and keep an eye on tree.

– Unplug lights before you go to bed.

There is still good use to be made of the trees even after the holidays, Reed said.

“Many neighborhoods have collection days where trees can be picked up at the curb after Christmas and made into either mulch, fish habitat or used to help slow coastal erosion.”

Johnny Morgan
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