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Over the Garden Fence

Where gardeners come to find out what's happening out in the yard.

Selecting Your Holiday Tree

Posted by Richard Hentschel -

Down the Garden Path

Richard Hentschel, Extension Educator

Holiday tree shopping, whether you are going to cut your own or visit your favorite lot to purchase your tree, is upon us.  Some of the common favorites are Balsam fir, Fraser fir, Scotch pine and White pine, each having different needle characteristics, fragrance, and color. There are of course many other kinds of trees to pick from any retailer or lot. There are several more kinds of Fir, Pines and Spruce.

There will be the family debates about how the tree will look full of ornaments and lights. Do you want the ornaments to hang, do you want the lights throughout the tree or just on the exterior, do you want a short needle or long needle tree and the list goes on. Take a tape measure along because those trees always look smaller in the lot than the space you actually have in the family or living room. If you are going to have to make the tree smaller, save the boughs for decorating elsewhere in the home or in the planter by the front door. No matter how the tree is chosen, any tree should be as fresh as possible. Cut your own trees may have the edge this year compared to last year with the cooler wetter weather this fall. The goal should be to have your holiday tree retain good color and moisture for 3 to 4 weeks indoors. Trees on a lot will typically last in the home quite well too. Tree lots may offer to put a fresh cut on the base of your tree. This is a good idea to encourage water uptake once inside your home. Setting your tree into a bucket of room temperature water for a few hours will also help before you bring your tree indoors. If it is going to be a few days before you set up the tree, plan on making a new cut yourself at home. Wait a few hours before decorating to allow the branches to open up again. This will not be needed with a cut your own tree. While you are waiting, enjoy the fragrance. Once inside check the water reservoir often for the first few days and never let the tree run out of water. When that happens the tree is not likely to last as long even if you refill the reservoir.

After you are done with your holiday tree, reuse it in the yard as a feeder station for the birds or cut the branches off and use them to protect tender perennials during the winter or take advantage of the community-recycling program. If you bought a living tree for use indoors, your tree will have a limited time indoors, maybe a week is all so plan on getting it back outside quickly. Our ground is not frozen so placing some straw over the planting site will ensure you can go ahead and plant your tree later.

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