Choosing and Care of a real cut Christmas tree

   Ah-h-h-h, the smell of a real cut Christmas tree; it’s the environmentally friendly and traditional choice for the holidays. There are many types to chose:  White Pine (long soft needles), Black Hills Spruce ( shorter stiff needles), Balsam Fir (the original Christmas tree, fragrant softer short needles), Douglas Fir (sweetly fragrant soft flexible needles), and the 2 most popular real cut Christmas trees, Scotch Pine (longest lasting medium length needles and stiff branching for those heavier ornaments),  and Fraser Fir (fragrant  soft blue green needles, good branching habit for ornaments).  So choosing a real tree becomes a matter of personal taste and likes.  

Things to consider when picking a real cut tree:

- Give the tree a needle check for freshness.  Take a needle off the tree and flex it between your forefinger and thumb.  If it’s fresh, it’ll bend and spring back.  Gently pull on a branch allowing it to slide through your hand.  If you have a handful of needles, that’s not the tree for you!  Lastly, pick up the tree and gently thump the bottom against the ground.  Some needles will fall, but it should only be a few.   - Next, measure the tree to be sure it fits in your home.  If you don’t, I guarantee it’ll be bigger at home than it is here at the tree lot!   - Bring your tree stand along just to make sure it fits, but don’t put it in the stand permanently until you’re ready to put it up in the house.   -If you’re going to put the tree up when you get home, have the folks at the tree lot put a fresh flat cut on the bottom, removing about 1 inch.  Then sleeve the tree for transporting home.  If you’re not going to put it up right away, do not put a fresh cut the bottom.

Caring for your real cut tree:

 [A Christmas tree is a living thing; treat it as you would a cut flower to keep it fresh.] 

-If you buy your tree several days before setting it up, store it outdoors in a cool and shady place, protected from wind and sun.  You may want to make a fresh flat cut on the butt of the tree (remove about 1 inch), and store upright in a container of water.  Feel free to mist it with water on occasion.   -Spray your tree with WiltStop.  This seals moisture in the needles, keeping your tree fresher, longer.  Do this before bringing the tree into the house.  (Use WiltStop on all your fresh holiday greens.)   -When you bring the tree inside for decorating, make another fresh flat cut at the base before placing it in the stand.  If you’re going right from our tree lot to the indoors (within 6-8 hours), our garden pros will make the fresh flat cut for you.   -Place a ‘tree disposal bag’ around the base of your tree before putting the tree in the stand.  This bag will help make clean up easier after the holidays are over.   -Your new tree is thirsty!  After placing your tree in the stand, add warm water (containing a Christmas tree preservative) to the stand immediately, and be prepared to add this water solution daily, or as needed.  Do not let the stand go dry.  Once dry, the bottom of the tree will seal back over and no longer take up water.   - Place your cut tree away from fireplaces, radiators, heat ducts, and any other source of heat.  Even in front of picture windows exposed to the sun will heat up.   - Check your Christmas lights for safety, and turn them off when the tree is unattended.  Continue to check your tree for freshness - use good judgment when deciding if a tree is too dry and needs to be taken down.

 After the Christmas holiday:  --Place your tree outdoors to make a shelter for birds and other wildlife.  –Cut the boughs off and use them to winter mulch perennials.   -Do not burn your tree in the fireplace.             

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