Tree stations are starting to pop up all over neighborhoods and it's beginning to feel a LOT like Christmas (excuse the pun). Here are some helpful pointers and things to take into consideration when selecting that perfect green beast and keeping it fresh for the next several weeks.
Photo by Flickr user hodgers
Q: What are some of the more popular trees and what is the difference between them?
A: The three most popular trees all happen to be in the Fir family. The fraser fir has a blue cast on the underbelly of its short needles. The balsam fir has a true green short needle and generally feels a little more open because their trunk can be a little more exposed. The douglas fir is impressive with its longer green needles giving it a furry and fat appearance. They all have a natural scent and strong branches.
Q: Once I figure out what type of tree I like, what else should I look for before I bring it home?
A: Make sure that the tree does not have a large crack going up its trunk and that the needles are pliable. There will be some needles that drop off but if the ones that are still attached to the tree can bend you are in good shape. Granted, when it is below freezing you will not be able to readily check for pliability because the needles may be frozen.
Q: Why do some lots have trees still bundled? How am i supposed to know what the tree will look like?
A: Some lots will keep trees bundled not only for space practicality but it can assist in holding in more moisture in the needles of the evergreen. The longer a cut tree is open and exposed to the sun and wind the quicker they loose that moisture and can become dry. You can measure the bottom branches even when they are bundled to see how long they are, therefore giving you an idea of its spread. If you request that the tree be opened and it is below freezing temperature please be aware that the limbs are frozen and should not be forced too hard to open for fear of damaging the limbs.
Q: If the tree is frozen and I take it home should I let it sit outside until it opens up?
A: No, the tree lot should cut the bottom a couple of inches off the bottom of the trunk in order to allow the tree to drink. Make sure that you get the tree in water when you get home versus waiting to do so. If you wait too long after the tree has been cut it could seal again and refuse to drink. Once the tree is in place, allow it to fall overnight before decorating it. It might make a little bit of a mess, but you're giving your tree a chance to let it do exactly what it needs to: drink, warm up and thaw. As a side note, have the bottom couple of limbs cut off for you as well allowing enough space to easily put it in your stand without causing complications. You can always use the extra cut offs for other decorative purposes around the house.
Q: Is there anything that I can do to keep my tree fresh for the holidays and stop those pesky dried needles from dropping?
A: The best thing you can do other than make sure that there is always water in the stand is to site it correctly. When contemplating where to place the tree display it in area that is devoid of direct sun and any heaters that might blow towards the tree which will cause the needles to lose moisture at a more rapid rate. And keep it well-watered. Never let the water level drop below the cut of the trunk, as this will again invite the tree to seal and refuse to drink.
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