Ron Wilson

Ron Wilson

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Live Christmas Tree Selection and Care - Thomas deHaas

It’s the time of year to start thinking about Christmas. And with Christmas comes decorations. And decorations mean Trees. Most growers and retailers will begin selling the live trees the day after Thanksgiving. So, what can you do to keep your live tree as fresh as possible?


The first step on keeping a cut tree fresh is buying a fresh tree. The very best way to ensure a fresh tree is to cut your own!


The following is a link to locate a “Cut your Own” tree in Ohio and/or the United States:


Several websites are helpful in locating farms in Ohio:


In addition, The Real Christmas Tree Board offers links to locate farms as well throughout the United States:


Before you cut, consider the variety of tree. Not all Live Christmas Trees will hold needles equally.

The following 8-minute video describes different varieties of Christmas trees:


The best needle retention of most trees seems to be the pines. White Pine and Scots Pine are two trees that have been in the industry for years.


White Pine has soft needles and flexible branches making it a challenge to decorate with heavy ornaments.


Scots Pine have stiffer branches but may not be readily available from many growers.


Fir trees have become the most prominent trees in the industry.


Balsam Fir has a great growth habit, has stiff branches that can hold many ornaments, and tends to have a great fragrance in the home.


Canaan Fir is the most common Fir grown in Ohio. The seed source of this tree was Canaan Valley, West Virginia. But it grows well in Ohio. It has a similar growth habit to Frasier Fir, holds needles well, and has a good fragrance.


White Fir is another fir that may be available in Ohio. It has a looser branch habit than other firs but has an outstanding blue-green color that can rally Blue Spruce, but needles are soft.


Spruce is another species available in Ohio. These tend to have challenges holding needles throughout the holiday season, so the recommendation is to cut these the second week of the Christmas Tree season, being the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend, usually the first full weekend in December.


Blue Spruce has been in the industry for years. It has a great blue color but has sharp needles, making it a challenge to decorate. Many customers still prefer this tree.


White Spruce has a shorter needle, great conical growth habit, and dense foliage. 


Norway Spruce may be available from some growers. They have a short needle, green color, conical shape and dense.


So, what should I select. The short answer is “Whatever You Like Best!” The key is what to do after you select a tree.


If you are not going to put the tree up in the house right away, place a fresh cut on the trunk and place it in a bucket of water either in a shady place or in a cool garage.


When you are ready to bring the tree in to display, follow these steps:


  • Put a FRESH cut on the tree, taking of ¾ to an inch off the trunk


  • Place the tree in a stand that holds plenty of water


  • The trunk needs to be in water within the hour or less after a fresh cut.


  • If you have purchased a Stand Right and Stand Straight Stand and the tree needs a hole drilled in the center of it, have the tree farm put a fresh cut on the tree BEFORE they drill it and get it in water within the hour. If you try to put a fresh cut on it at home, it may not fit correctly in the stand.


  • The tree needs to be WATERED!!! When first in the home, it may need to be watered twice a day


  • The tree needs to be watered daily. My recommendation is the same time each day by the same person!


  • The tree should be placed in a home in a cooler room not next to a heat source. Cool temperature means in the low 70’s.


  • If/when the tree needles begin to dry, it needs to be removed from the house, even if this is before Christmas. A dry tree is Not safe!


  • Water is the BEST way to keeping a tree fresh. If the trunk dries out, it may stop taking up water. It will begin to dry out.


  • As far as lights, twinkle lights tend to give off less heat that the traditional larger bulbs. Heat is not a friend to Christmas Trees. Or just decorate the tree outside or on a screened in porch!


If you prefer, watch this short 4-minute video on how to care for a live Christmas Tree:


For additional information and videos on Real Christmas Trees visit the following:


Information about real trees in general with video content:


In addition, The Real Christmas Tree Boards hosts a Facebook Page:


Merry Christmas!!!

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