Choosing The Perfect Christmas Tree

Patricia M. Arledge, Sharpe, Kenneth W.

News Article for November 30, 2015:

It was a warm Thanksgiving but we did get a big frost that is showing up in warm season grasses and helping with some leaf color in the hardwoods.

One of the post-Thanksgiving rituals for many is getting the family Christmas tree. It is a great memory to load up the children and go out to a local Christmas tree farm and let everyone get involved in selecting just the right tree.

The key to getting a good Christmas tree is to make sure it is fresh. The easiest way to tell is to select one that is still growing and cut it that day or at a later day when you are ready. Buying from local choose and cut Christmas tree farmers can give you assurance of a fresh tree.

You can also buy a tree from a Christmas tree lot or nursery that retails Christmas trees but you will need to pay more attention to detail in order to get a fresh tree. You know that many of the traditional Christmas tree species are not native to our area so they have to be cut and then shipped here. There has to be some lead time for the grower to cut them, ship the tree and finally get the trees to retail outlets.

One of the best indicators of freshness is the smell of the tree. Is there a strong fragrance coming from the tree? The quality that most of us are looking for in a live tree is the fragrance that permeates the home, so it should smell like a Christmas tree. Next, look at the color. It should have a good green color not a lot of yellow or brown.

The needles can also tell you a lot about freshness. Fresh trees will have pliable needles that will bend without breaking. If you gently pull the needles, they should not pull out. You can also shake the tree lightly, you will always have a few needles fall but it should not be raining needles if the tree is still fresh.

Once you have established the tree is fresh, look at some other common problems. Size matters and when you get on the lot the bigger trees always look better. Be sure to keep the height of the tree under your ceiling limitation. Do not forget to take into account the height of the tree stand and any tree topper that all have to fit in between the floor and ceiling.

Check the straightness of the tree trunk. Most people are only going to decorate 3 sides of the tree and one side will be up against a wall. If you have a large bend in the trunk it can throw the center of balance off and the tree can be more vulnerable to falling. A tree falling can be a traumatic and loud experience in the middle of the night. Straight trunks are best.

When you get the tree home cut the end of the butt of the tree and immediately set it in the stand and fill it with water. If you are not ready to put it in the stand, set it in a bucket of water. This cut will open up the vascular system of the tree and allow it to uptake water and rehydrate the tree to keep it fresh. Trees will take up a lot of water initially so check the water level morning and evening the first few days and then once daily. If you allow the tree to run out of water the butt will callus over and it will not continue to take in water and become very dry and dangerous. We just got a new tree and it took up 1.5 gallons of water in the first 12 hours.

Now just keep the tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces, vents, heaters, spot lights and candles and it should last the entire holiday season.

For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at

12/2/2015 2:03:05 AM
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