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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis

The Best Christmas Tree from David Robson

Posted by John Fulton -

The search is on for that best ever Christmas tree. If you are looking for the "freshest" tree, you will want to visit one of the local choose and cut tree farms. If you are planning on purchasing your tree off a sales lot, buy your tree now. Not only will you be assured of a better selection, but also it is important to keep your tree as fresh as possible and that means getting it into water. Few tree lots continually bring in fresh cut trees; what you see now is probably all that they will have.

Whether you cut your own tree or buy one off the lot, water replenishment should be your primary concern. When a tree is cut (and whenever the stem end is taken out of water and exposed to air) a seal forms which prevents the tree from taking up water.

Once you get your tree home, make a fresh one-inch cut on the butt end and place the tree in a tub or large bucket of warm water. The tree may go through a gallon or more of water for the first several days after being cut.

Leave the tree in water in a cool protected location until you are ready to bring it indoors for decorating, even if it is for a week or more. An unheated garage is ideal. If the tree stops absorbing water before you are ready to set it up, make a fresh cut on the end.

When it's time to bring the tree indoors, make a second fresh cut on the stem at least an inch above the original cut. This will enhance the tree's ability to take up water. Before the new cut has a chance to dry, place the tree in a water-holding tree stand.

It is important that the tree stand holds a large reservoir of water. If the well goes dry, a seal will form and you will need to make a fresh cut. That's no easy job on a fully decorated tree.

Check the water supply daily and refill as needed. A 6-foot tree may need a quart of water each day. If your tree doesn't consume a lot of water, it probably isn't a very fresh tree.

Research continues to show plain water is as good if not better than most homemade or commercially prepared products in preventing a fresh tree from drying out as long as you keep the basin filled.

For safety reasons, the tree should not be decorated with cotton, paper or other materials that are flammable. Wax candles and other types of open flame should be avoided. Lights and wiring should be checked for worn spots and cracks, and care should be taken not to overload electrical circuits. Keep the tree away from heat sources like fireplaces and heating ducts.

While you are watering your tree, check the battery on your smoke detector. A great stocking stuffer for friends and relatives would be a replacement battery for their smoke detectors.

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