It seems like the Christmas season is beginning earlier and earlier. I see city Christmas lights already displayed while traveling each weekend. I'm used to Christmas music beginning the day after Thanksgiving. Since I love the Christmas season, I'm going to join with everyone else and get it started now.
If you are like me, you enjoy a tall, live Christmas tree in your living room. It adds spice and life to the holidays. Our family had an annual tradition in selecting and putting up our tree. But a bad tree is no fun. Here are some things to consider when selecting a Christmas tree this season.
Select a tree that is bright green, has flexible needles, and fresh. We generally want a tree that tapers gently from a full bottom and has enough branches for hanging ornaments. First, decide where you will put the tree in your home. With this in mind, you will know what height you need and whether or not all four sides must be suitable for display. A tree that is placed in a corner only needs three good sides. Remember, trees look smaller outside than they do in a house.
Most people look for a tree that is healthy, damage free and well trimmed. Freshness is very important. Many growers spray paint their trees and although there is nothing wrong with this, it may conceal dryness. When you run your fingers down a branch, the needles should remain attached to the twig. Brittle branches and shedding needles are a sign of dryness. Also, fresh needles bent between the fingers will not break. Another test for freshness is to lightly shake or bounce the tree on the ground. If only a few needles drop, the tree is fresh and with proper care it should stay fresh throughout the season.
Also, a tree that is fresh will often have a strong fragrance. However, not all trees have this “pine scent.” The Leyland Cypress, a common Christmas tree, has little smell. This may be a disadvantage to those who desire this Christmas fragrance.
Once you select your tree, give it a bath. Chances are, there will not be many insects on the tree this time of year. However, some small spiders and aphids or various insects manage to escape the cold by hitching a free ride inside. Prop your tree up outside and give it a good hosing off with water before bringing it inside. This not only eliminates insects but dust and dirt as well. Be sure to let the tree dry thoroughly before bringing it inside and decorating with electrical lights and ornaments.
If you buy your tree several days before decorating it, store it outside. Cut the butt of the tree at a diagonal about one inch above the original cut and place it in water. When you bring the tree into the house, make a new cut straight across. This will facilitate additional water uptake and make it easier to put the tree in your stand.
Mount the tree in something that can hold a lot of water. It is usually necessary to check the water level daily to make up losses from evaporation and water absorbed into the tree itself. Be sure that the tree is well supported and located away from fireplaces, radiators, electric heaters, television sets or any other sources of heat. Heat not only poses a potential fire hazard but also drys out needles, causing them to brown and drop quickly.
Trim your tree with care and enjoy a Merry Christmas.
For additional questions, contact the Thomas County Extension office at 225-4130.