Now that Thanksgiving is over, many of us will begin our annual search for the perfect Christmas tree. Here are a few things from University of Illinois Extension’s website section Christmas Trees & More to keep in mind when selecting your tree:
- Decide on where you will place the tree. Will it be seen from all sides or will some of it be up against a wall? Be sure to choose a spot away from heat sources, such as TVs, fireplaces, radiators and air ducts. Place the tree clear of doors.
- Measure the height and width of the space you have available in the room where the tree will be placed. Take a tape measure with you to measure your chosen tree and bring a cord to tie your tree to the car.
- Choose a fresh tree. A fresh tree will have a healthy green appearance with few browning needles. Needles should be flexible and not fall off if you run a branch through your hand. Raise the tree a few inches off the ground and drop it on the butt end. Very few green needles should drop off the tree. It is normal for a few inner brown needles to drop off.
- Remember to choose a tree that fits where it is to be displayed. For example, if the tree is displayed in front of a large window, then all four sides should look as good as possible. If the tree is displayed against a wall, then a tree with three good sides would be okay. A tree with two good sides would work well in a corner. The more perfect a tree, the more expensive it is.
- Make sure the handle or base of the tree is straight and 6-8 inches long so it will fit easily into the stand.
Once you get your tree home, there are several things you can do to keep it lasting throughout the holiday season:
- If you aren’t putting your tree up right away, store it in an unheated garage or some other area out of the wind and cold (freezing) temperatures. Make a fresh one-inch cut on the butt end and place the tree in a bucket of warm water.
- When you decide to bring the tree indoors, make another fresh one-inch cut and place the tree in a sturdy stand that holds at least one gallon of water. Or, a rule of thumb is one quart of water for every inch of diameter of the trunk.
- Be sure to keep the water level about the base of the tree. If the base dries out, resin will form over the cut end and the tree will not be able to absorb water and will dry out quickly.
- Commercially prepared mixes, aspirin, sugar and other additives added to the water are not necessary. Research has shown that plain water will keep a tree fresh.
- Take down the tree before it dries out. Many fresh cut trees if properly cared for will last at least five weeks before drying out.
For more information on Christmas trees, visit University of Illinois Extension’s website section of Christmas Trees & More at www.urbanext.illinois.edu/trees.