When the winter holidays approach, you want your tree to look its best. Here are my tips for choosing the best tree:
1. Choose a fresh tree. It is simple to say but hard to do! Most of the trees on the corner sales lots were cut six weeks ago and perhaps a thousand miles away. Visit several lots before you buy a tree – - just to test the freshness of the trees. Examine tags on the trees to see if they indicate where the trees were cut. It’s a long, long way from Oregon and Colorado to Atlanta!!
• Hold a branch about 6 inches from the tip. Pull your hand toward the tip, allowing the branch to slip through your fingers. Very few green needles should come off in your hand if the tree is fresh.
• Lift the tree a couple of inches off the ground, then bring it down abruptly on the stump end. Outside, green needles should not fall off in substantial numbers. Remember, inside needles do turn brown and shed naturally every year.
• Until you are ready to decorate, keep your tree outdoors, standing in a bucket of water and protected from the wind and sun. This will help the tree retain its moisture.
The National Christmas Tree Association has a very informative site.
2. Try a cut-your-own tree farm. You will be guaranteed of freshness and it is a great December outing! Take your kids or the children of friend for a memorable trip. You can choose from hundreds of perfectly shaped trees. Choose-and-cut farms supply saws, wagons and rope. Many have wagon rides and hot cider to help you enjoy the trip.
3. Never transport a tree home without wrapping it in plastic sheeting or a big plastic bag. The needles will be as dry as toast if you do – and they can not recover enough water to rehydrate themselves unless you soak the entire (ital) tree in a tub for a day.
4. Cut off the bottom 1″ – 2″ of the trunk and immediately stick the trunk in water. In this way, new water-carrying tubes in the trunk will be exposed and they will immediately start sucking up the liquid. Don’t let the container of water get empty – expect the tree to need a gallon during the first 24 hours. By the way, water is the BEST liquid to give the tree. Commercial “tree feeding chemicals” don’t do any harm – but why waste your money on something your tree doesn’t need?
5. Why not a living tree this year? It can be a terrific family tradition and the tree can be used to landscape your yard or a nearby school or “beauty spot” after the holidays.