Whether it’s the eight-foot color-coordinated Christmas tree or the Charlie Brown-esqe one-ornament masterpiece, choosing the right Christmas tree can be perplexing. Getting it to last all season can be tough, especially if the growing season hasn’t been all that helpful. Fortunately, two experts weigh on how to get the perfect tree and keep it green throughout the holidays.
Elizabeth Lamb, who holds a Ph.D. in plant breeding, works with Cornell Cooperative Extension’s New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. “The fresher the tree the better, which is a good reason to buy local,” she said. “The branches should be springy and smell good. A few loose needles aren’t a problem but you shouldn’t get handfuls when you brush the branches.”
Once you find that tree, Brian Eshenaur, plant pathologist with the New York State Integrated Pest Management program, recommends water is the key to keeping that tree fresh.“The best way to preserve the tree’s freshness is to keep the water flowing from the cut bottom of the cut trunk to the needles,” he said. “When you bring it home recut the trunk if you can, especially if you think the tree has spent some time on the tree lot and the cut stump looks dry and dirty. That way you’re sure to have open ‘pipework’ to keep the water flowing which will keep the needles fresh.”
Here are a few great tips to keep handy when you and your family select your tree:
- Don’t be afraid to handle and bend the branches and shoots. Green needles should not come off in your hands. Also, the shoots should be flexible. Avoid a tree if the needles are shed or if the shoots crack or snap with handling.
- Look for a tree with a good solid green (or blue green for some species) color. Needle yellowing or a slight brown speckled color could indicate there was a pest problem and could lead to early needle drop.
- Have fun looking over all the types of trees. New York growers are producing a wider variety of trees compared with past years. One can find New York grown firs such as Fraser, Balsam, Douglas and the bluish tinted Concolor fir. Spruces and old-fashioned pines can also be found. Each variety tree offers its own shape, color, fragrance, and branch stiffness for holding needles.
- Christmas trees should smell good. If there isn’t much fragrance when you flex the needles, it may mean that the tree was cut too long ago.
- If possible, make a fresh cut on the bottom so the tree’s vascular tissue (pipe work) is not plugged and so the tree can easily take up water. Then, if you’re not bringing it into the house right away, get the tree in a bucket of water outside.
- Once you move your tree gets inside the house, don’t locate it next to a radiator, furnace vent or other heat source. And always remember to keep water in the tree stand topped off, so it never goes below the bottom of the trunk.
You can find a Christmas tree farm in your area by visiting www.TexasChristmasTrees.com and choosing North East Texas Region for Lufkin, Nacogdoches, and Jacksonville areas or South East Texas Region for Beaumont and Lumberton areas.