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Monday, April 22, 2024
Growing Together: Picking the perfect fresh-cut Christmas tree

It is hard to believe, but it is getting that time to go out and purchase a fresh-cut Christmas tree.

In fact, some tree vendors are already selling out.

Your tree is your canvas, so it's important to select a good one — gorgeous ornaments can do only so much for a scraggly tree. Some people prefer the look and smell of a real pine or fir tree, while others like the reliability of a fake one.

Here are some tips for selecting the perfect fresh-cut Christmas tree:

Determine where the Christmas tree will be going. This seems like a basic first step, but knowing exactly where the tree will be placed allows you to determine what size of tree will fit in that space.

Do not be afraid of using a measuring tape! Even though we think we can visualize the space and guess on measurements, it never hurts to take actual height and width measurements to know what size of tree will work for your room.

When out shopping for your tree, take along your measuring tape to double check. Make sure you take into consideration that you need space for a tree topper as well as a tree stand.

Get a well-shaped tree. If you want a real tree, make sure you see it out of its netting. Many tree lots keep their trees wrapped up to conserve space, but it is impossible to know what the branches of the tree will look like until it is opened up.

Look for full, evenly spaced branches and a symmetrical shape that tapers toward the top. Remember that you do not want a tree where the branches are so dense that it makes hanging ornaments difficult.

Buy a tree that isn’t dropping a lot of needles. It is normal for an evergreen tree to drop some of its oldest inside needles. Run a branch or two through your hands to see if a lot of needles (especially toward the tips) are dropping.

This is a sign that the tree is already starting to dry out. You should be able to feel if the needles are dry as opposed to fresh. A fresh tree will have a pleasant fragrance, not a musty smell.

A freshly cut tree will last indoors for about two to three weeks before drying and starting to drop a lot of needles. You may want to buy your tree early to make sure you get what you want, but if you are doing that it would be best to keep the tree outside in the cold temperatures until you are ready to set it up a few weeks before Christmas.

The most common varieties of evergreens that are sold as Christmas trees are: Balsam Fir, Noble Fir, Fraser Fir, Douglas Fir and Scots Pine (sometimes mistakenly called Scotch Pine). Balsam and Noble Fir hang on to their needles the longest.

Wait to make a fresh cut on the base of the tree until you are ready to move it inside for set up. A fresh cut will allow the tree to draw up water.

Once you have made that fresh cut, set it up in a suitable-sized tree stand that has a deep water reservoir. The first day you can expect the tree to draw up about one gallon of water and one or more quarts of water every day after that.

Make sure that there is water sitting in the stand at all times.

Happy Christmas tree shopping!

Joanne Young is a Niagara-on-the-Lake garden expert and coach. See her website at joanneyoung.ca.

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