Scotch pine, Douglas fir and Fraser fir are among the most popular selections for fresh cut trees. Scotch pine has stiff branches with good needle retention. The Douglas fir has soft needles that radiate in all directions from the branch. When crushed, its needles give off a sweet fragrance. Fraser fir is considered to be the Cadillac of trees. It has stiff branches and soft, short needles that are very fragrant. If you’ve never had a Fraser Fir, it’s definitely worth considering.
How to Select a Clean, Fresh Tree
A cut Christmas tree will last the entire holiday season without becoming too dry or dropping a lot of needles, provided it is fresh and given proper care.
When selecting a cut tree from a retail tree lot, more care is needed to ensure that the tree selected is fresh. The best way to determine the freshness of a cut Christmas tree is by how firmly the needles are attached to the branches.
You can check by lightly grasping a branch of the tree and gently pull the branch and needles through your hand. If the tree is fresh, very few needles will come off.
Other methods of checking the freshness of a Christmas tree include needle flexibility, tree color, aroma, and a look to see how dry the bottom of the trunk looks.
Caring for the Tree Before it Goes in the House
If the tree is to be stored more than a couple of days, I suggest placing it in water until you are ready to take it inside your home and decorate.
Give your tree a fresh cut, an inch or more is adequate. Generally a cut will be good for about 6-8 hours. Anything longer than that, the tree should have another fresh cut. Sap will usually seal the bottom of the trunk and will more than likely prohibit or disrupt water intake.
Once inside, refrain from placing your tree near sources of heat such as a fireplace, an open heat duct, or a radiator, or in front of a window that receives the direct sun. Consider using a tree disposal bag and place the bag around the base of the tree before it is put in the stand.
The most important thing you can do is make sure your tree stand is large enough and strong enough to hold your tree. If you’re in doubt, then it probably isn’t. In addition, make sure your tree stand can hold an adequate amount of water.
Water is important because it prevents the needles from drying out. Your tree should take in a fair amount of water, especially during the first week, and it’s important that the water level in the stand never goes below the cut end of the trunk. If that happens a seal of dried sap will form, then you’re out of luck!
When you string lights on your tree, use only approved lighting that carry the UL (United Laboratories) stamp of approval. Carefully inspect electrical lights and extension cords before decorating your tree. Remember, before going to bed or leaving the home, turn the tree lights off.