Published December 15, 2012 | By Robert LaHoff

  1. Measure the height of your ceiling and the thickness of your Christmas tree stand’s base. Sounds simple, however many people think their ceilings are bigger than they are and that their Christmas tree stand adds several inches to the overall height. Remember your tree sits on the bottom of the stand not on the top.
  2. Relationships are everything! Chose a location you feel comfortable with as several try to capitalize on this commodity. Many trees are cut well before the holiday season even gets here. Choose Your Own Farms and better independent garden centers have control over this equation.
  3. Pull on the ends of the branches, not too aggressively, and see if there are any needles in your hand. A few are Ok, but there should not be a lot of shedding in your hand. Also, bend the tips of the branches to see if they are pliable. Pliable branches suggest that the tissue is very much alive. The tree should not feel dry!
  4. Shaking the tree and seeing needles drop on the inside shows two things:

A. Conifers shed their interior growth in the fall/early winter!

B. Christmas trees are stacked on top of one another for transport and in so doing needles will fall into      one another. Both of this is normal…. Pull on the ends for freshness!

  1. Be mindful of the trees overall appearance. There are many grades to Christmas trees, thus contributing to price differences. Bundle trees and #2’s are those that may have imperfect sides or holes. Premium trees are those that have been sheared many times to offer you the quintessential pyramid shape.
  2. There are many types of trees available. Some of the more popular are Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir, Douglas Fir, Noble Fir, Grand Fir, Canaan Fir, Scotch Pine, Blue Spruce and Norway Spruce. There is no right answer as to which one to buy. Some chose for scent, others chose for branch strength, to hold their ornaments, while others chose for longevity. Fraser Fir seems to be one of the more popular choices today that can do all of this.
  3. Trunk Splits: Sometimes you will see small cracks at the base of the tree going towards the treetop. Rest assured a fresh cut would still allow the tree to drink water.
  4. Make a fresh cut on the bottom of your tree. Some call this taking a “Cookie” off the bottom, a cut that is roughly ½-1 inch. After doing this the tree should be placed in a bucket of water or in your stand within a few hours. Do not allow the tree to dry out going forward or another fresh cut may be needed!
  5. Consider wrapping your tree in a blanket, having it netted and tied to the roof of your car or placing your tree inside your vehicle to diminish the drying out process. Trunks should face forward on top of the car!
  6. Clean your stand with bleach and water prior to putting your tree into it. This will kill any bacteria that may be in the stand.
  7. Consider putting a tree bag on the bottom, when setting your tree up, for easy disposal later!
  8. Once your tree is standing, in its stand, check it daily for water. An average 6-8 foot tree could drink upwards of a gallon of water a day for the first few weeks. Shaving the sides of your tree down to get the tree in the stand may suggest it’s time to buy a stand with a larger reservoir.
  9. “Adding a few drops of bleach every time you replenish the water, for the tree to drink, will help keep the xylem vessels clean and enable the tree to drink more freely. Think of this like cholesterol in the arteries…. We want free flow not blockage” (Stephen Schuckman, ISA certified arborist; NJ certified tree expert and continuing education instructor at Rutgers OCPE).
  10. Keep your tree away from heaters, direct sunlight, fans, drafts, vents and your fireplace.
  11. When the season is over consider using your tree for mulch or as a wildlife habitat.

My hope is that this simple check list will accompany you during your decision and make the whole process just a bit easier. Good luck!

Posted in Garden Tips