Holiday Trees

How To Buy A Holiday Tree

Selecting the ideal holiday tree is an enjoyable part of the holiday season. Choosing the “perfect”Photo: Single Christmas tree growing on a tree farm. tree will be easier if you know what species you are looking for, the different features that indicate a good tree, and how to maintain freshness.

Species

Many species of evergreen are used for Christmas trees, although some are more popular and in greater supply than others. No one species can be considered the best all-around Christmas tree, since each has its own distinct characteristics.

Selecting A Tree

Here are a few guidelines to help you select a tree:

  • Determine where you will display your tree. Measure the space be fore you go tree shopping. Determine what height you will need and whether all four sides must be suitable for display. Select a tree that is the right height for the space you have chosen for it. Don't try to put a tree into a space that's too small for it. Cutting large portions off either end will alter the natural taper of the tree.

Be sure that the base of the tree is well-supported and the tree is placed away from fireplaces, radiators, electric heaters, televisions or any other source of heat.

  • Freshness is important when selecting your tree. Run your finger down a branch - the needles should adhere to each twig. The needles should be resilient, but not brittle, and shiny and green. Shake or bounce the tree on the ground lightly to see that the needles are firmly attached. If only a few drop off, the tree is fresh and with proper care should retain its freshness indoors throughout the holiday season.

Do a freshness test. Gently grasp a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward you. Very few needles should come off in your hand if the tree is fresh. 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 and will occur over the lifetime of the tree.

  • Select a tree that meets your needs. The branches of a blue spruce are sturdy enough to hold heavy ornaments. The limbs should be strong enough to hold ornaments and strings of electric lights.
  • The tree should have a strong fragrance and good green color for the species.
  • Once you've chosen your tree, keep it in a sheltered, unheated area such as a porch or garage to protect it from the wind and sun until you are ready to decorate it.

Check the tree for freshness, cleanness, health and trimmings and be sure it displays the best qualities for the species. Following these steps should ensure a healthy, attractive tree, but the care of your tree does not stop here.

Christmas Tree Care

If you buy your tree several days before it will be set up and decorated, store it outside. Cut the butt of the tree diagonal about one inch above the original cut-this opens the pores and aids in the absorption of water. Place the butt end in a container of water.

When you bring it into the house, saw the butt again, squaring off the diagonal. This facilitates placing the tree in stand as well as aiding absorption. Keep the butt end of the tree in a container of water the entire time it is in the house. Refill the container daily as the tree requires a lot of water. Sprinkling water on the branches and needles before you decorate the tree will help retain freshness.

  • Open flames, such as lighted candles, should never be used on or near the tree.

Never leave your home with the Christmas tree lights still on. The longer the tree is indoors, the more combustible it will become. Check electric light cords for fraying and worn spots that could early lead to fires. Also do not overload the electric circuits and avoid the use of combustible decorations.

Before you set up your tree, make a fresh, straight cut across the base of the trunk (about a quarter inch up from the original cut) and place the tree in a tree stand that holds a gallon of water or more.

Warning: Keep the tree stand filled with water. A seal of dried sap will form over the cut stump in four to six hours if the water drops below the base of the tree, preventing the tree from absorbing water later when the tree stand is refilled. If a seal does form, another fresh cut will need to be made.

A tree will absorb as much as a gallon of water or more in the first 24 hours and one or more quarts a day thereafter. Water is important because it prevents the needles from drying and dropping off and the boughs from drooping. Water also keeps the tree fragrant.

In addition, keep your tree away from heat and draft sources like fireplaces, radiators and television sets. Test your light cords and connections before hanging them on the tree to make sure they're in good working order. You don't want to use cords with cracked insulation or broken or empty sockets. Also be sure to unplug the lights before you go to bed or leave the house. Never overload electrical circuits.

Sensible precautions such as these will help preserve the unique beauty and tradition that only a real Christmas tree can provide.

All About Christmas Tree Care