From the Desk of Ed Hume: Cut Christmas Trees

December 2, 2009 at 12:00 AM Leave a comment

It’ll soon be time to put on a raincoat or heavy winter jacket and begin the yearly hunt for that perfect Christmas tree.  But first, we need to answer some questions regarding our hunt.

First, where do you go to get a cut Christmas tree?  The four most popular places are 1) cut Christmas tree sales lots (most cities and towns have several on street corners or in parking lots), 2) U-Cut Christmas tree farms (where you can choose a farm-grown tree, pay for it, and then cut and take it home), 3) designated times in select areas with a government permit (generally, you pay a minor fee and cut a tree on specified Federal or State lands), and 4) private property (with this option, you must obtain permission from the property owner before cutting the tree.)

The native Douglas fir is the most popular cut tree here in the Pacific Northwest.  However, the Fraser fir is fast becoming even more popular because it remains fresh a bit longer.  Then there’s the Noble fir which often will stay green and nice for up to two-to-three weeks or more.  A fourth selection for some are the various varieties of pines, which are often selected mainly because of their woodsy fragrance.

It should be noted that not all evergreens make good cut Christmas trees.  Soft needled trees like Cedrus deodara and Cedrus ‘Atlantica’ tend to drop their needles rather quickly indoors.

Now, here’s what I consider the important steps in buying a cut tree at the local cut tree lot: First, when you walk into the lot, look down.  Are there a lot of green needles on the ground?  That could indicate the trees were cut too soon, mainly before a frost could set the needles on the tree.  It’s a warning that once those trees are brought into a warm home they will continue to drop needles.  What does that means to you?  It may be a possible fire hazard, or by Christmas you may end up with a tree with no needles.  A few green needles on the ground are to be expected because of unloading, handling, etc.  At the same time, don’t be alarmed about brown needles or even a few yellow ones.  Those are inner tree needles that have naturally turned color and are dropping due to yearly shedding.  But if there are in fact a lot of green needles on the ground as mentioned earlier, I would suggest you turn around and move on to another Christmas tree lot where the trees are fresher. (Christmas lights and dry needles create too much of a possible fire hazard for me.)

What if you don’t find that perfect tree right away?  Look for about 15 or 20 minutes and then if you don’t find the right one, go have a cup of coffee, otherwise the trees begin to look all the same and you are apt to choose the wrong one.

When you have selected the right one, take it home, cut about ½ inch or more off the bottom (butt) of the tree, and stand it up in water.  Leave the tree in water outdoors until you are ready to bring it inside for the holidays.  Indoors, keep the tree in a Christmas tree stand that has a water receptacle.  Check the water level daily to be certain it does not dry out.  You also want to be certain your tree is not placed too closely to heating ducts or heating elements of any kind.

By observing just a few simple ideas, you should end up with a great looking, fresh Christmas tree that is also apt to be less of a fire hazard.

Next week we’ll talk about the advantages of living Christmas trees.  See you then!




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